Chorrillos, better every day
Today, a part of our group continued on with the construction project at the shantytown of Pacífico de Villa in the municipality of Chorrillos. Our group started the work on Monday with members of that community.
We are helping to build a retaining wall between the small elementary school, Pronoi Niño de Jesús, and the community centre. The project involves digging, moving rocks, working with rebar, mixing and setting cement and so much more. The wall will reinforce the ground behind the school and eventually enable the school to be expanded in order to better accommodate the growing demand. Currently, 70 students attend the sparsely-furnished school with plywood walls.
As soon as we arrived this morning, a public announcement was made calling all the ‘vecinos’ (neighbours) down to the work site to help out and to show that ‘estamos unidos’ (we are united) in improving the community. In Pacífico, announcements are made throughout the day using a loud-speaker located at the community centre to provide news and announce events. Before long, we were working alongside over thirty people from the community and the kids were running around the work site. There were a large number of women involved in the work we were doing. Many of the men work steady or odd jobs during the day and the women remain in the community with the kids.
The people in Pacífico have a strong sense of responsibility for their community. Everyone is encouraged and very willing to contribute however they can when there is work to be done. It is reassuring to see them all involved in the construction because it shows that they believe in the work that is being done there. We heard about a community centre that was built by a volunteer group four years ago with little involvement of the community. The building has been empty since it was built because either the community either didn’t need it or don’t feel any sense of ownership for it.
At some points during the week, volunteers from our group were providing English lessons or helping out with homework for the kids in the community whose parents were working at the construction site. At other times, the kids wanted to help out by moving rocks and shovelling.
When we left, the supports for the wall were securely in place and the community members was going to pour the cement for the first half of the wall.
The slogan for Chorrillos is ‘Chorrillos, cada dia mejor’. Our project in the community of Pacífico is small, but we hope that our work, will help make life better for some.