During my visit to the shanty town of Comas, in Lima, I felt that any moment my heart would burst. I constantly had a lump in my throat from the moment I stepped out of the taxi to meet a bunch of cheerful, excited youngsters aged 4 – 11, eager to take me on a tour of their own personal little gardens. I had come to see an example of Tierra de Niños in action and the experience was very moving. Continue reading
Category Archives: Lima
Las Palmas is a shanty town on the outskirts of Lima that is a stark reminder of the harsh reality of Peru’s extremities of socio-economic disparity. The community has over 300 families but does not have a water or electricity supply. Water is bought in on trucks, and electricity wired in from neighbouring communities, resulting in the actual cost of water and electricity being much higher than in wealthy areas such as Miraflores. Continue reading
Day 1: Chorrillos
21 students and 5 teachers from 11 different countries and 18 different schools arrived in Lima on Tuesday July 17th. On the following morning we all headed off to the Chorrillos day care centre in Lima to paint the playground wall. It was a good activity to help us get to know each other, as well as provide a service to the centre.
Chincha is a large town about 200 km south of Lima in the Ica region. It was greatly affected by the 2007 earthquake and the devastation is still very much visible today. Many families are still living in the temporary US Aid shelters and the town is still littered with destroyed, half-standing buildings. I visited the Sunampe region, where students from Markham College of Lima have been building houses since soon after the earthquake. After the earthquake Markham College initially organised donations and collections of food and making survival packs, which were sent down to Chincha by the truckload.
The next major project was to rebuild the school in Sunampe, the poorest area affected. Students raised over a 1/4 million solés and physically built the school from the ground up, solid structures of brick and mortar with several classrooms. They also provided many resources. Later they built homes for the families of the children who attend the school. Over time they also built 30 community centres and I saw two of these. The mayor’s wife pointed out one that is used in the mornings as a kindergarten and the afternoons and evenings for a range of activities and meetings.
The biggest problem thereafter was how to decide who needed houses the most.
This is where the mayor’s wife became actively involved in setting up a society that helped select those most needy. Yesterday I saw students in ranging in age from 11-20 in 5 groups in their second day of house building. The mayor organises the laying of the concrete slab and the students do all the rest from raw materials bought and delivered from Lima. One of the DT teachers made the design and the students construct the panels, erect the walls, make windows and doors, put on the roof and paint the inside and outside. There is some flexibility in the design, depending on what the family need.
Students from ages 11 to 20 were busily involved in the various tasks when I arrived on the second day. Alumni who have had been involved at a younger age, had returned to assist and lead the groups. The three boys who won the Kurt Hahn award in 2010 for their leadership in this whole initiative were in their university holidays. One is now studying engineering at UCL had arrived 3 weeks earlier with 2 friends in the same course to build 3 eco toilets they had designed (see photos). Once finished they will run workshops with the families on how to use them. They also built 4 eco stoves. Here is their website with more details on this wonderful initiative. https://sites.google.com/site/peruproject2012/home-1
For the duration of the house building the students camped in tents in the mayor’s back yard, who also provided them with breakfast each morning. The families of the new houses made lunch for each group (with some financial aid). It was a wonderful atmosphere with much hard work. The local children also got involved in the painting and also tried their best to have a say in the colour choices. Tomorrow a new group of Markham students arrive to begin another 5 houses.
Pachacamac is an archaeological site near Lima, built between c.200-1450 CE, before the arrival and conquest by the Inca Empire. 17 pyramids have been identified, mostly temples. The site has layers of buildings with the earliest being c. 200-600 CE, then later the Huari built their administrative centre on this site (600-800 CE). After the collapse of the Huari empire, Pachacamac grew as a religious centre with many temples being built (c. 800-1450 CE).
The Incas invaded the area and used Pachacamac as an administrative centre but also allowed the Pachacamac priests to continue their priesthood. The Incas added 5 more buildings plus a temple to the sun.
After exploring Pachacamac we went to an interesting restaurant in Lurin. It was if we had been transported to Bali! It was built with bamboo. The kitchen was outside with clay ovens. The food was amazing!
This week I spent some time at a day care centre for needy kids. It was difficult, but also a great experience. I went every afternoon for 2 hours. The centre is for 1 – 5 year olds and they are there all day from 7:45 to 5pm. I was first introduced to the centre by Mr Alan Tin-Win of Markham College and a group of girls on their service work. This particular day they were painting one of the classrooms.
The centre is divided into 4 sections: one section for 1-2 year olds, and a classroom each for 3, 4 & 5 year olds. The centre has its own kitchen and the children are given morning tea, lunch and an afternoon yoghurt type drink. Social workers determine whether families need this support. Health care workers visit regularly to monitor children’s health and growth. There is also a psychologist who visits to meet work with some of the children with behavioural issues, plus gives support to the teachers. A dance teacher who has his own classroom, takes the classes on rotation, teaching them traditional Peruvian dances. After lunch all the children have a half hour nap and this you will see in the photos. They are very cute when they are asleep, but when awake, they are a handful. Several of the boys are quite aggressive – certainly more aggressive than I have ever experienced in children this age. I was pretty shocked at some of the behaviour and one boy I had to keep a hold of all the time during activities as he would lash out at other kids, completely unprovoked. In one of my sessions, two 4 year old boys had a full on fight and had to be pried apart.
Due to my limited Spanish, I took short sessions in English: numbers, colours, greetings and simple songs plus I did some music activities. I only worked with the 4 & 5 year olds. On the whole the kids were very sweet and loved affection. On my last afternoon they had a “fiesta” which involved all ages dancing and a visit from Barney. I really enjoyed my time there and will go back when I return from the project in Cusco.