On Sunday morning we made our way back to Pacifico de Villa for an unstructured day of ‘chillin’ with the people in the community. We planned little for the day, but the community had a full agenda of activities for us.
We started by attending part of a mass. Religion is much more present in everyday life in Peru than it is in North America. A bell rang at 11:30am indicating that the mass was about to begin and people entered periodically for the next half hour. Still, by the time we left, it was standing-room only in the one-room building with a bamboo roof. Dogs wondered throughout the room and onto the alter during the mass, probably wondering what all the excitement was about. The mass itself was animated and full of music. Later, our Peruvian translator Mayra explained that in the poorer communities, mass is used to help educate the people and also to motivate them to succeed.
In the afternoon, the community organized a cooking contest of traditional dishes and a traditional dance contest. We were greeted with open-arms by close well over 50 members of the community and they ushered us onto the stage of their one-room community hall. Many in of our volunteers felt uncomfortable with our position up on the stage but it soon became apparent that they were as fascinated look at us as we were looking at them. The chefs, all local women, each presented their delicious and colourful dish with great pride and explained the ingredients to us. When the dancing started, it wasn’t long before they had managed to get our entire group on the dance floor to partake. A mish-mash of people, colour and movements swept through the community center yesterday afternoon and it was an experience that few of us will forget.
We finished off the visit on and around the soccer field with soccer, volleyball, potato-sack races and taking tours of the homes of many of the local people. The tours were challenging for many of us because the small plywood structures contained so little compared to our Canadian homes. However, we were inspired by the pride with which the members of the community spoke to us about how much they had and how they were working to improve their homes to make a better life for their families.
Today is the first day we get down to work with our volunteer placements. Our group is dividing up to run English Second Language courses for kids and adults, build a retaining wall to support a local school and run a seminar on effective teaching methods.
It’s going to be another great day in and around Lima!