Serendipity in Peru

Posted July 9, 2011 @ 11:00pm | by Comunidad

Dear Ones:

We arrived after several wheel-well deep, stuck in the mud, get out and lighten the truck, episodes to Corazon de Naupas at 12,400 feet of altitude.  The village turned out to greet us, and I was able (with Jose's help) to tell them how I was sleeping upstairs right up there, I pointed, when I asked my father for help in deciding how to spend the money from his funeral.  The answer couldn't be more clear the next morning when three humble fathers came to thank Comunidad for the school because now their child knew something they didn't: how to read. By the 3rd visiter I had to ask myself, 'how do they know their child can read?  There are no books - nada- zippo!'  That's when I knew my book-gobbling father was sending me the answer: libraries.  The details just needed to be worked out, and so they were.  The Board of Directors for Comunidad are generous, hardworking souls that share the same vision of education, nutrition, and now with a focus on literacy! Today, two years later in that same spot I was ready to be dazzled by a book reading competition.  First they paraded by with signs announcing the "First Annual Walter Ebertz Memorial Library Reading Competion" - that invoked a river of tears to add to my already hard to deal with coughing, nose-blowing regime.  (how much phlegm can the body produce and evacuate, I wondered.)  I needed to evacuate much more in the tear department as it turned out, for child after child, parent after parent, grabbed a book and read in Spanish aloud to the town for 3 minutes.  Often the book was a very familiar title like "One Fish, Two Fish", or "Where the Wild Things Are", or even "Little House on the Prairie".  The books were obviously used, even getting overly used, which made me leap for joy.  Not too high though, as the altitude makes leaping difficult.

That night we had 5 thin mattresses laid on the floor side-by-side, as we froze and snored, gulping for air through snotty noses, sleeping really fitfully at over 12,000 feet of altitude and around 32 degrees of temperature.  A breakfast of quinoa cereal drink, plate of boiled potatoes to be peeled by hand with starch wiped on increasingly dirty clothes, and a stern talk to the teachers and father representatives about how to treat female teachers who live in the village during the week with their own babies.  They have to teach class with baby on back and some parents have been mean-spirited about this.  They prefer us  to pay for a new teacher without baby.  Just the kind of thing Mey and Pamela, two mothers and teachers would take on and crush the opposition.  A few heads were hanging after our lecture about human rights, equal rights, etc.  Then I had to take on the principal who was using the library's "retablo" for his own personal storage.  I had to be firm, but not alienate him, just like with one of my own bad boys in my own classroom.  We parted with a long list of desires from the teachers, some more doable than others: like we can get white board markers, but a closet for teaching materials will have to be discussed with the Board of Directors.  Capice?

The next village was Culluhuanca, about an hour away and at least 1000 feet lower in altitude.  Braulio was there with one of his former students, the director of agricultural water and hydraulics for the Vincos government.  The mayor was also a former student of his in the ag department and he sent a representative from the mayor's office, a man "Z" from Naupas to keep politics in the heart of the fray.  The people of Culluhuanca had petitioned Rotary Club for a tractor last year when I brought J. Kremer through their villages.  They put up quite a plea and at first were crestfallen when Braulio suggested the first thing to do was to analyze the soil and water situation in the area.  Once he thoroughly explained that he himself was taking responsibility for seeing it done, and he smiled and laughed, eyes twinkling like Santa, speaking Quechua and devouring the food set before him, they began to trust the system.  Jose was the liaison between the officials and the people - never before were they in such close proximity and communicating to such success - that it was a little mind numbing.  By August 15 the study will be done, and Culluhuanca will be put on the top of the list for assistance in irrigation.  Then, and only then, does it make sense to talk about a tractor.  You may all read this without the requisite wonder required.  This was a miracle - that exactly the right people were gathered quite by happenstance, sitting on nursery school chairs around a little table in Culluhuanca.  Please take a moment to wonder at the universe and it's use of angels!

To be continued,

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