We started the day at Pacifico de Villa, a small village within San Genero, Chorrillos. We met the great people that make up the communities there. We saw plywood houses, no running water, dust and stray dogs – along with big smiles and open hearts. We were greeted by some of the leaders of Chorrillos’ communities who explained recent progress in their communities and what some of their outstanding needs are.
Our group’s reflections following this initial meeting included the relationship between dignity and development. In this case, and in so many others, how do you provide assistance without imposing on the dignity of those on the receiving end? The answer may lie in listening. In this situation, ensuring that we listen, understand and take direction from the experts on the ground that live that reality every day is definitely a good way to start.
The head teacher from one of the schools in the community was among those welcoming us today. A shy woman with a kind smile, she humbly thanked us for coming and explained what improvements need to be made to her small school so it is more appropriate for the 70 children that come to it every day. Even as she spoke, she became increasingly confident – she was the one calling the shots.
The second part of the day, we visited the centre of Lima and spent some time wondering the streets, visiting the Mueseo de San Francisco (catacombs and all) and caught a glimpse of Peru’s new president – Ollanta Humala as he returned to the Government Palace.
These two contrasting worlds, Pacifico de Villa and the centre of Lima, but both could teach us so much.
By the way, we did get a bit of sunshine today.