Walking where there is no road (lyrics from a song by Facundo Cabral)
Today was a unique day and our last full day of volunteer placements. We started out at the at Cristo Rey school, where many of our group were running English classes for elementary and secondary school students since Monday. Instead of English class today, the secondary school students joined us for a day of volunteering. Some went to Cerrito Azul, the school for kids with developmental exceptionalities. The Peruvian students and Canadian volunteers spent the day visiting a museum with the children from Cerrito Azul, and teaching them to ride bikes.
Over at the shantytown Pacífico de Villa, construction continued on the retaining wall which will enable the expansion of their small school. Together, the Peruvian high school students, Canadian volunteers and members of the community made a huge amount of progress on the wall – mixing cement, moving rocks and pouring the first half of the wall.
Another part of our group moved on to another project at Pacífico. The shantytown is built on very large sand dunes at the side of the ocean. There is no running water so water trucks come to the community, parking at the bottom of the hill, and sell buckets full of water. People that live closer to the top of the hill need to walk up steep incline through sand and stone with large buckets of water every time they purchase water because there is no road for the trucks to go up. As the community grows, this is problem in becoming increasingly significant.
Today, the Canadian volunteers, Peruvian students and members of the community spent the day clearing the path for a road for the water trucks. We cleared stones and chiselled away at the rock that lines the dirt walking path that exists there now. There were many community members out to help us, and this hard labour was a unique experience for many of the high school students with us, most of whom live in relatively better-off neighbourhoods in the Lima. Filthy and tired, the group finished the day after having cleared a large stretch space for the new road.
In Pacifico de Villa and many other shantytowns around Lima are considered temporary dwellings and for this reason, have very limited facilities. There is electricity in some houses, but the government will not provide them with running water unless the population expands significantly.
Tonight some women from Pacífico will be joining us for dinner and then speaking to us for the rest of the evening about life in the shantytown.
Another fantastically fascinating day in Peru!