We have had an excellent and very successful week. The week began with an introduction into the Virgen del Rosario Medical Centre and concluded with the Pacifico de Villa general assembly. We were able to speak with all of our program partners for May and with other individuals and institutions within Pacifico de Villa and the surrounding area, who are working towards a brighter future for Pacifico de Villa and the surrounding area.
The week’s highlights included: Tuesday – meeting with Graciela Nieta, Executive Director of a newly developed medical centre in San Genero, attending Thalia Tacsa’s (Pacifico de Villa) dance class. Thursday – We met with the new doctor of the Pacifico de Villa medical post, and the wonderful promoters. Over lunch we met with Marta from one of the comedores (soup kitchens), and an inspirational conversation with Daniel Contreras. Friday – We finished the week with a workshop on Teaching Practices and Program Planning .
On Sunday, following the community church service, Javier and I made our way up the Pacifico de Villa hill to meet with the new president, Hernan Caceres of Pacifico de Villa. As we passed the soccer field we noticed that crowds had surrounded the field to watch a soccer game. On Sunday, during the warmer months, the community organizes their campeonato, or soccer league. Men from each of the sectors in Pacifico play against one another in hopes of winning the Pacifico de Villa cup. The crowds must have amounted to upwards of 100 people. We watched briefly. The game was intense and everyone seemed to be enjoying themselves.
Following a brief stop, we made our way towards one of the highest points in Pacifico. On our way we came across the new president, unable to speak with us at the time, Javier and I decided to continue to make our way up the hill, to the home of Jose Ramirez. As we approached the home we could hear the sound of hammers banging and constant chatter. We approached Jose’s home to find Jose and Florentino leaning on a wooden beam, while banging in another. Jose Ramirez)has been assisting us with our groups since 2011. Florentino Pizarro, is the leader of one of the sectors in Pacifico de Villa, and the president of the Local Educativo (“Education Centre”). Florentino was the first person Javier met when he arrived to Pacifico de Villa in 2011. Jose and Florentino are very good friends.
It was a Sunday and Florentino had come to help Jose with building an extension to his home. The wooden beam that they were both leaning on was one of the support beams for the new wall and roof. Although a simple extension, it is impressive all the same, as it will double the square footage of Jose’s home. Florentino and Jose were engrossed in conversation discussing how they would finish up the final beam, and discussing the next step. They both showed no interest in the excitement taking place at the community soccer fields. Jose and Florentino were focussed on one thing, making improvements to Jose’s home, taking one more step towards a better future for his family. The picture provided a stark contrast to the soccer game taking place at the bottom of the community.
We spent some time speaking with Jose and Florentino. Now well past midday, we knew that we would not be able to stay long. Florentino would have to head home shortly; he would have to be at work by 6pm. Florentino works the night shift as a security guard in Chorrillos. Jose would have to finish up early and get some rest in order to wake up in time for work. Jose works by the airport it is 2.5h hours away from his home by transit. On Mondays, he wakes up at 4:00am to get to work at 7pm. Due to the distance Jose does not return home during the week, leaving his wife to look after his three young children.
We had time to share a delicious Peruvian dish (Cebiche/ Ceviche), freshly ccooked by Jose’s wife. Once we had finished our meal we made our way back down the hill.
As we made our way down the hill, I remembered a phrase that, Jose Carlos, my first taxi driver of this trip, shared with me in passing:
“Life is about work, if you don’t work then there is nothing.”
Jose and Florentino used their Sunday to work, unconcerned by the soccer game taking place lower down in Pacifico, the two were focussed on improving their lives.
On our way down the hill we had a nice surprise as we ran into Isabel (an integral member of the Youth in Action program and one of the members who shared her testimony with our 2012 August group) and Stefanie, a young girl who we have seen grown since 2011 and Thalia (Thalia has charmed a number of her groups with her wonderful Marinera dancing).
Thalia has been taking dance classes and she was the inspiration to the creation of the Thalia Fund. I promised Thalia that I would visit her at the dancing studio on Tuesday evening!
A busy first day: A good start in preparation for the next few months
Within a few hours of arriving to Lima, I just had time to unpack and track down a few voltage converters before Javier Bazan, Regional Manager of SIA Peru called. Javier had a arranged for me and him to meet with Graciela Nieto the Executive Director from Virgen del Rosario, a new medical centre located in San Genero, just fifteen minutes from Pacifico de Villa. Many of you who have traveled with SIA may remember Graciela. Graciela Nieto is a dentist from San Genero and she has been assisting us with various health campaigns. Most recently she guided the very successful dental hygiene campaign in Pacifico de Villa, led by students from the University of Waterloo. Graciela, Javier and I shared a wonderful Peruvian meal, Pollo a la brasa (Roasted chicken with fries and salad), as we mulled over the developments in the area of health over the last few months, and discussed the impending health projects for the year.
While discussing the different ideas that Graciela shared, I was impressed by the passion and care that she showed. Having recently developed a medical centre is San Genero, Graciela is excited to continue to provide a high level of medical care to a population that struggles to receive adequate care in the public institutions. Graciela is one of those people who can bring change and development to her own community. It was inspiring to see her determination.
I spent the rest of the evening speaking with Javier, as he brought me up to date on the developments that have taken place in Pacifico de Villa, the land surveying, the new president, etc. We discussed the progress made on our various projects and spoke about the the projects we are developing this year. We spent the remaining time finalizing the meeting dates and the schedule for the next few days. We have arranged a tight schedule, which should allow us to meet with all our partners, who will be working with us in the coming month, by Tuesday.
As we look at our number of blog views we are continually reminded of the interest that is shown by the SIA community regarding our attempt to motivate and empower through our international development work. As I head to South America for a number of months, we have been given an opportunity to share with you all the developments that take place and the many lessons that the SIA Peru team, the SIA leaders and our wonderful volunteers will learn. It is my hope that over the next few months we will be able to provide you with an accurate depiction of our work through Developing Together. We hope to provide you with stories written both by and about our local SIA team, Canadian volunteers, the local residents, and the many other highlights that we experience. We hope that this forum will provide you with the insight outlining this enriching and worthwhile experience that we are fortunate to embark on every day.
We look forward to sharing the next few months with you and we hope that we will see you in South America one of these days!
We have had trouble with the internet at the retreat house the past few days, and so I leave you with a well-known photo from 2012.
– Building a community of inspired and motivated individuals… Developing Together