I’ve been in Peru for a little over 3 weeks now and wanted to share some highlights from this past week…
Every Wednesday is “Immersion Day” in which we get chance to leave the training center and work with neighboring communities. This week we went to visit Callahuanca, a community in the Sierras about an hour and a half away known for their palta (avocado) and Chirimoya (Andean fruit). We started off the day by splitting up and talking to different members of the community. Each of us was given a different assignment I was supposed to talk to people working on the chacra (small farm). When I asked someone where I could find the chacra, however, they said there wasn’t one close by. Given that I had less than 40 minutes until the next activity and my only mode of transportation was walking I had to improvise. As luck would have it I ended up coming across a man working in his back yard on what seemed to be a smaller version of a chacra so I decided to approach him to see what I could find out about life on the chacra. He told me that he lived in Lima but on weekends he would come to Callahuanca to help his family and to work on the chacra. He said that the main crops were cherimoya and avocado and explained the harvesting process to me. Before I left I thanked him for his time and he asked his friend to take a picture of us for his “Facebook”.
Next I went to the school where I met up with the other volunteers and in small groups were assigned to different classrooms to teach a class using different Participatory Analysis for Community Action (PACA) techniques we had learned during the week. My group taught a class of quinto de secundaria (high school seniors) and we did an activity with them that assessed the community’s strengths, weaknesses, threats, and opportunities. We found that pretty much all the students agreed that avocado and cherimoya crops, and tourism were the primary strengths of the community. They mentioned that problems with drugs and alcohol, and lack of efficient health services were some of its weaknesses. The students told us that the unpredictable climate was one of the threats to the community and they had the most trouble thinking of opportunities that existed in the community.
Friday was another big day because after giving a presentation on my findings in Callahuanca, I had my 30-minute presentation on my research project on child labor in Peru. During my investigations I found that 1 in 4 children in Peru are currently working and 50% of them are expolited. These children work in the streets or on farms, but in severe cases, they can be found working in the mines, brothels, as drug mules, domestic servants and even as child soldiers. There are some organizations working to combat child labor in Peru but in order to make any substantial changes,laws need to be improved and vigorously enforceddeveloped, and increased funding is also needed. Here is one of the current campaigns La Calle no es Su Lugar (The Street is not their Place):
Saturday we spent the day in Lima, which is about an hour and a half from where I’m living (Morón/Chaclacayo). First we visited the presidential palace and then we took a tour of the Catacombs. I made sure to make some ghost sounds as we were walking down into the crypt…the tour guide wasn’t too happy about that. I had ceviche for lunch and afterwards I took a tour of the mall and shops in Lima. We took a colectivo back to Chaclacayo, but it was very different than the colectivos I’ve taken previously. Colectivos, in Argentina are busses, but here in Peru they are vans apparently. There was the option of taking the combi back but it would’ve taken 2-3 hours because it stops frequently to let people on and off and runs about $3 soles (equivalent to around $3.) A colectivo, however, is about $7 soles, but doesn’t make any stops and gets back in half the time.
Another big highlight of the week was joining a nearby gym and I’ve started dance and aerobics classes every day on my way home from the training center. Coincidently the woman who runs the gym also taught the outdoor Aerotón (Zumba) class I took the previous week. I love taking her classes because she has such great energy, makes classes a lot of fun, and gives us a phenomenal workout while also perfecting our dance moves. She’s strong and tough yet feminine and just an empowering person. Fitness has always been one of my passions and I’d like to use some the dance and exercise routines that I’m learning with groups of women and girls from my community when I go to my new site.