Posted April 18, 2012 @ 7:22am | by Comunidad


I went to the villages supported by Comunidad in July of 2011.  The purpose was to check on school progress and also to host the first annual Comunidad reading competition.  I had no idea what that would look like, but brought along enough prizes for first, second, and third place for teachers, adults, and children alike.  I also brought along an ace interpreter.  This was a luxury.  The two previous years I was on my own with my very limited Spanish abilities.  

Jose is the historian and naturalist that Melanie uses on the Arequipa to Puno leg of her tours through the Andes.  I knew first hand how knowledgeable and well-spoken Jose is.  When we arrived in Corazon de Naupas, the village was excited to host the reading competition.  They rolled out to greet me with their usual over-the-top assembly and entertainment ritual.  By now I was used to it and was set with a sun hat, jug of water, and beforehand visit to the outhouse.  With Jose to interpret, I was able to finally tell them how the Walter Ebertz Memorial Library (biblioteca) came to be in the first place.

My father died in February of 2009.  He was a founding board member and lover of the Quechua people.  We had collected $6000 from his funeral and were going to do something special, but what?  I spent my first cold, cold night in Naupas on a mattress on the floor upstairs of the school house, nestled in a sleeping bag under a heavy load of wool blankets collected from a variety of houses.  When I went to bed that night, I asked the spirit of my father to visit me and inform me of what to do with the $6000.  

I woke up the next morning and realized that I had no visit during the night.  In fact, I hadn't even rolled under the weight of wool atop me.  While I was disappointedly folding my blankets, a man knocked on the door and shyly came in with a gift of homemade cheese, soft boiled egg, neither of which are everyday breakfast fare.  He came to thank me that his son could now read.  He barely remembered learning himself, and was so pleased his son could read, and this he learned in pre-school.  Thanks Comunidad for providing a pre-school and reading, he declared!  Off he went.

I was fully dressed and eating my bounty, when Feli the teacher came in the room with my hot water for coffee and another visitor.  This was a grandmother with homemade cheese, and boiled potatoes.  The bowl was so stained and well-used.  It was covered with an equally well-used, but clean cloth to keep it warm.  She was coming to gift me and explain how she loved that her grandchildren could read.  They learned in pre-school and continued on in primary.  They didn't have either school there before Comunidad showed up.  She herself could not read, so really appreciated it.

She practically bumped into my third visitor with cheese, eggs, and potatoes.  This was another dad.  I knew he was coming to thank Comunidad for helping his child learn to read, but why three in a row?  This time I was fully awake.  "How do you know your child knows how to read", I asked.  "There are NO books anywhere in the community.  Do you have any books at home?"

He replied something to the effect that he just knew his child could read.  Something about photocopies........Then I burst out laughing!  Scared him off, I fear.  My dad may not have come during the night, but he sent three visitors back-to-back before I was fully up and ready for the day.  

Now a year later I was able to explain to the villagers that my dad was the smartest man I knew.  How did he get so smart?  Reading.  It's pretty much that simple.  He had sent me the word to get them reading too.  I told them (through Jose) that my dad was watching the first annual reading competition, because this was exactly what he wanted.  He had to send three visitors before I connected the dots. I imagine they would have continued coming eternally.  Even the men had tears in their eyes from hearing this story.  Let the reading competition commence!



View All
Filed Under: In Peru | Permalink
XML Sitemap