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!