I`m finally getting a rhythm here in Peru. It took this long (I`ve been at stie 11 months!) but I think I got it finally. That`s normal I hear, especially for being the first volunteer in my site. I had my doubts till recently; failed projects, meetings nobody came to, etc. But something changed. I`m not exactly sure at what moment it was, but it had something to do with two things:
1. I can finally offer something except education. I`ve written a grant (hopefully the money starts flowing soon…) for 33 stovetops to build improved kitchens (cocinas). I have 45 families in total in three communities. One is where I live and the other two are tiny communities accessible by foot only.
2. I took my two adolescents taking my sex ed course to a leadership conference we put together in August. They`re fairly motivated to teach others, paint murals and make radio spots.
The cocina project is huge. It´ll take me pretty much the rest of my service to
complete. The mothers in the project must attend six classes, one a month for six months, in order to receive the cocina. This is a big item for them; it costs about 170 soles here and their equivalent to Medicaid pays them 100 soles per month for food. So it`s be practically impossible for them so save this kind of money. And I like the project because they have to be involved in the process. It`s not just a gift. They have to build the adobes for the cocina and work with me to build the actual cocina. The classes will stretch through the rainy season and we`ll be building the cocinas from about April through August. I finished my first three classes (the same but in each community) last week. Out of about 45, I only had 4 mothers not come to the first class (most on time). This is legendary here where they don`t have planners, calendars or even watches. It`s actually fun. My biggest challenge is language. And it`s not Spanish anymore. Most of these mothers don`t speak Spanish. Just Quechua. And yeah, I know a few phrases, but I doubt I could ever teach a class in Quechua even if I studied my ass off for the next year. You can`t guess words in Quechua like you can in Spanish. But, that`s why my host mom comes with me- to translate and make me legit. The classes are about nutrition, hygiene, gardens, building corrals for their guinea pigs, early childhood stimulation and how to make their home healthier.
And for the adolescents, they`re teaching what I taught them to four others right now. Then we`ll have six peer educators to teach classes during school hours about sex and sexuality. Like I mentioned before, they don`t know shit about birth control and ITSs. This is the first sex ed class ever for this school. Hopefully the teen pregnancy incidence will decrease a little….
I´ve been working my ass off making a huge garden. It`s a lot of work, but hopefully we`ll have a shit ton of vegetables here during the rainy season. All I can grow at this altitude and climate. I`ve been digging through a mountain of rocks.
And I`m still teaching in the primary school every day. The kids are kinda growing on me, I must admit. It`s still not my favorite thing to do but I`m completing my classes and probably won`t take more on. Except in the art realm. I have ideas for this….more to come.
And I still teach boxing but only private lessons to one girl. She`s really got some potential. I use Ace bandages to wrap her wrists. Maybe I`ll bring some back from the States. If I can find them.
Speaking of that, I`m visiting home for New Year`s and early January. I`m flying in to New Jersey to see Alex and then to StL to visit my parents. I can get some cold Diet Dr. Pepper, some cold IPAs, some hot ass mother f*ing showers or BATHS and drink from the faucet. It`s all about liquids for me. And temperature control. Those are the comforts of home I miss the most.
I`m taking violin lessons. I have a teacher here teaching me the traditional music of the area. I`m not learning how to read music and they use Do Re Mi instead of C D E so it´ll be interesting. And I`m doing research to see if I can afford a harp, That´s the other instrument of this region and they`re relatively cheap and I can take lessons here too. Some day I gotta figure out how to bring back two cats, a guitar, violin and possibly a harp. Shit. But worth it. This is where my creative side is taking me and I`m rolling with it. I think I really miss live music. If I have to make it myself, so be it.
It`s now my second Halloween, second Thanksgiving and second Xmas coming up for my life in Peru. But I think I´ll see some of those Stateside next year. Vamos a ver.