Last Blog - this time July, 2011

Posted July 10, 2011 @ 6:49pm | by Comunidad

Dear Friends:

I am writing about my final days of village life from the relative comfort and 21st Century conveniences of Senorial Hotel in Lima.  It is almost hard to go backwards, but I will try.  I remember when we first went to the Ayacucho Rotary Club meeting with such low expectations, and we ended up with so much help, so much cooperation, that I taught our luckily found interpreter a new word for him in English: serendipity.  He liked it.  So do I!

Serendipity was at work throughout the trip.  We went from Naupas to Chokipampa to Culluhuanca on day two.  We were to have the coming together of necessary people in the latter, followed by a quick lunch visit in Chokipampa.  They are our new high school lunch program.  They have 89 high school kids, but only 15 are local.  The rest walk up to two hours one way to get there.  The teachers and students were amazingly talented - they sang and danced and played excellent Spanish guitars for us.  The primary school there is run by a nearly blind woman, and she needed a stove with gas, rather than wood, and other kitchen amenities.  The secondary school also asked for tables and 70 chairs, and continued to ask for things as we were climbing into the Toyota, "Old Baldy"; oh and can you get some drums and guitars for the music program?  We escaped back to the reading program in Culluhuanca, where we stayed for the night......on the floor.  There was even a squat toilet not too far away, but there was a horse standing over it in the morning when I stumbled over there with bursting bladder.  I had to go so badly that I went outside the bathroom while trying to peer in partial darkness on his rope tangled around things and holding him prisoner in the bathroom.  He gave a horse snort of disapproval at my bladder explosion eight feet from the bathroom door.  Sorry, dude!  Let me get you out of there.

The reading competitions in Culluhuanca had the contestants in each category reading for 3 minutes of the same book.  I suppose that was fair.  It was mind numbing to hear 8 contestants read for 3 minutes each from "Corre, Nicholas, Corre!"  Then both Culluhuanca and Hatumpampa put on adult theater, and oddly much the same play, for first prize winner in the best actor category.  They had the 4 page rules for the reading contest, but decided to give an academy award winning theater performance instead.  Gotta love 'em!  Both villages fed us to stuffing points at every meal.  We moved on to Paccha, where it all began, for the final night and the final contest.

We had a meeting with the teachers from preschool, primary & secondary school shortly after our arrival.  All have needs.  The primary school really um....begged for computers.  I had to agree with them that schools without computers these days are leaving the children behind.  Especially when there probably isn't a school in Lima without them.  That being said, computers are expensive and how were we to supply 10 or so for the 120 primary kids and 5 or 10 more (they have 5 now) for the 85 high school kids?  I told them we absolutely DID NOT have the money now, but we could put our best thinkers to the task. That was before I realized our best thinker was sitting next to me....Mey.  She suggested THEY get the tech school in Ayacucho to rent them some computers for the rest of the year.  THEY get the district government and parents to pay for it.  They all get a little agitated at the idea, because negotiating with the government is often fruitless and demeaning, and squeezing more money from the turnip-like parents is equally arid, but the idea was sound and the officials blowing smoke and "support" in the air showed up the next day.  Anyway, we shall see.

Paccha blew the other villages out of the water with their fabulous reading abilities.  We had quite a few fathers and mothers reading with great passion and expression.  I reminded them again and again that the heros in the United States are the countless people who donate hard-earned funds and never get to hug the kids or parents in person. These people are content to give, give, give.

We made it back to Huamanga tired and dirty, but with hot shower awaiting.  We were about to go shopping one last time for tanks of gas, paper, markers, balls, etc.; then we were to drink wine and dine out before the buses whisked Jose to Cusco and Mey to Lima that very night.  We were about to start this when Carlos, the rotary secretary and great, great, etc., great grandson of Manco Capac popped up requesting me to reappear on the television show that had run on Monday night to great enthusiasm locally.  I know I might seem like a ham, but I'm Pam, I am!  I don't want to be on TV, not ever!  So I whined and complained, wheedled and squirmed until we settled on Jose and Victor replacing me.  So, we had our good dinner with Carlos in tow, and Jose stayed an extra night.  Mey left that night, John and I left at 5:00 a.m.  The story goes that Jose and Victor went on TV the following evening, and did a good job explaining how our visits went and what was accomplished.  I have no doubt that Jose put the proper words out there of how the LOCAL people should take more responsibility for the poor campesinos trying to catch up.  There is no better advocate for the Quechua poor than Jose.  None!  There was to be a large photo exhibition on the Plaza de Armas some time in the future to keep this amazing literary/educational/nutritional program in the minds of the locals.

I'm off on a mini-vacation to Cajamarca, Kremer returns home. Thanks for caring and for letting me share!



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