News from Peru: July 8, 2011

Posted July 8, 2011 @ 3:02am | by Comunidad

Amigos & Familia:

Do you believe in angels?  This two week period has been full of them.  It started with meeting Rudy outside the Rotary Club Meeting in Huamanga, who could tug at their heartstrings a bit more eloquently than my limited foreign language skills would allow.  He did that well.  Once we had Braulio, our second angel, the 80 year old retired agronomy professor/new rotary club president on board, it was one angel encounter after another. 

Humberto thought a good way to get the entire village - teachers, parents, and students reading, would be to stage a reading competition.  He sent out the 4 page document setting this up with rules, etc. in each of the 4 villages where we have libraries.  I had the 500 or so new books catalogued, sorted, and ready to go.  We shipped them ahead of us, along with the prizes for the reading contest to begin on Monday. It was just a matter of keeping our ducks in a row.  On Sunday Jose, Mey and I were like a 6-limbed machine, organizing the prizes according to the contest entry information given us.  Of course, this being life and Peru at the same time, the list and the contest matched about as good as diet coke and hot peppers on an empty stomach. 

We had lunch with the rotary secretary, Carlos, and his wife Ally, with 5 year old son Leonardo.  Carlos speaks a little English, and Ally once lived in Florence, Italy, so we managed quite well.  They walked us back to the Santa Rosa Hotel, and I asked them to step into my room to see all the books, freshly sorted and ready to go. Particularly the home-made, beautifully illustrated, hard-bound books made by River Falls High School Spanish language students, were very moving.  I got a little verklempt telling him how last year they made us 40 or so books and we catalogued them and put them in the book "mobiles".  This year they were going to become prizes for the reading contest.  This was partly because they're so darned cute, but mostly because I did not bring down extra check out card/envelope supplies and we were hand making them from manilla folders and taping them in.  Yuck!  Anyway, I was explaining this and a lightbulb visibly went off over Carlos's head.  Away he ran and came back insisting I be filmed for his friends television show. 

I was waiting and hoping that Jose, the next angel in this installment, would show up any moment and interpret for me.  Alas, the film guy came and put all the books just so and filmed away, asking me questions about our literacy program and Fundacion Comunidad in general.  Luckily it wasn't live TV, so I have no idea how stupid I really looked.  Jose walked in 30 seconds after they left.  What timing!

Jose is Melanie's guide from the Colca Canyon to Puno or Cusco on her Peru trips.  I used him as well on my own trip with friends, and I could testify that he is probably the best guide a person could ask for - either knowing the answer or finding out to darned near any question.  I was grateful that he volunteered to interpret for John Kremer, as he navigated his way through the Rotary world and myself, as I navigated through the small-village life in indigenous, rural Peru.  I never expected him to don a halo and sprout wings, but then this was one amazing trip! 

Mrs. Humberto, or Mey, joined us on Sunday and we were met by long-time Comunidad coordinator in the area, Victor.  Victor was the director of the secondary school in Paccha right after we gladly gave control of the school to the government where it belonged.  Remember, the government neglected to ever create a high school in that area and that's were we began the business of non-profit education.  Anyway, Victor assembled our 4 pre-school teachers, our 1 director of high school for our new food program in that village, and they got paid and discussed how well things were going and what was needed.  I sent them shopping with Victor for paper and such, while I met with the scholarship kids. 

Monday morning very early we set out in the Toyota truck Victor rented and drove.  Looking at the tires, I could see I had more tread on my ass than they did!  Nevertheless, we were on a mission.  I prayed only that if we died, it would be on the way back.  I hated to waste all the prizes and books!  Three in the back, two in the front, and 2000 bags of stuff in the back and we set out on the most amazing, incredible, angelic journey through the magnificent, description defying Andes Mountains.  Stay tuned,

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