Wednesday, September 13, 2006

peru project

i love this little girl. she looks exactly like bani. only one person who read this blog knows who i mean. bani was this little boy in montero, where we grew up, who was a little wild thing. a fighter, a huck fin, he'd punch a random innocent kid and then sprint away. he had this look in his eyes--and then he'd smile and it was absolutely dazzling.

so--i have to give you the scoop on the peru project. these kids live in a shanty town on the farthest outskirts of lima--at least an hour away from the center of town where the tourists hang out. their parents have moved here from the rural areas in hopes of making a better life. i wish they wouldn't come--it MUST be better where they were before--less polluted, more natural, etc. but i really don't know. i want to find out. perhaps if they knew what they were getting into they wouldn't have come.

but that's a project for another day. [i want to make a documentary of what life is like in the lima slums and take it to the towns everyone is coming from and show them and say, please stay where you are!!]

anyway these impoverished families are already stuck. there are many single moms. as you know, teenage pregnancy is a terrible but effective way to create a vicious cycle of poverty. another case: we met a woman who came to pachacutec with her husband and 2 sons. the husband abandoned her after they arrived. (i mentioned it here.)

so--let me give you the scoop. i don't like to ask for money but i guess i feel obliged to put the facts out here at least once.

For $30, 150 kids can get a lentils & rice meal (an economic but nutritionally balanced option). Right now, what they are getting is a runny oatmeal hot drink with bread and butter or jam, which costs about $7/meal for all 150 kids.

The name of Alex's organization is Idukay Peru. This means Educating Peru, in Quechua, the indigenous language of Peru (and the Incas). This fledgling organization is currently working in three different communities. I visited Fertiza when I was in Peru 2 years ago. This past summer I got to meet people from the Pachacutec community.

In Fertiza, there is a little school that has opened its doors to idukay peru. In exchange, idukay peru fixed up their bathrooms, which formerly were squatting models. Now they have flush toilets. Also, 150 of the poorest kids in the school, as well as a few older people who have no source of support, are fed breakfast and lunch. Finally, the kids get help with their homework after school. Also, there was a Christmas party with a clown show, hot chocolate, and presents for the kids. I know that Alex took some of the kids on an outing to a park one time too.

There are ladies from the community who make the food and serve the kids.

Fertiza needs:
-steady income to keep up the meal program
-money for books for the school
-a micro loan so that someone can set up a bakery, and maybe get other little businesses started, so there can be a local economy.
-medical & nutritional help would be great, but this weird doctor that we thought was going to come turned out to be really strange, so we scratched that plan. people in spain sent medicine, though.
-people to volunteer. you could stay at alex's house, like i did. it was fun.

There's also Pachacutec. Pictures here. View them as a slideshow but speed it up, because there are 106 photos. The funny thing about the kids is that a lot of them frowned for the picture, but afterwards they'd give these adorable huge grins. So you missed the best part!

My dream is to go back and get the women in Pachacutec making some crafts: hats, scarves, jewelry, embroidered stuff. And then import it here, and sell it--fair trade style. I am doing some research. I have no idea how many barriers there are between now & doing it. I will have to dedicate myself seriously to this project if I decide to take it on--and maybe give up other interests, forget the ceramics studio membership, rock climbing, french books. Can I make this type of commitment? Maybe, just maybe.

I found some websites of others who have had the same idea, and I even got an emailed response from one of them: Rebecca of Nest. If you are inclined to shop, please look around there, and support this excellent project. She is in St. Louis, and sounded excited to hear from me.

Another organization sounded great too...Mad Imports...but they work with women in Africa.

Besides the fair trade idea, there are also micro loans. Kiva is a new website that enables people in the u.s. to give small ($25) to big amounts to help people in developing countries make the money go a lot farther--buy a sewing machine, an oven, so they can start a business, generate income, and repay the loan.

I guess my strategy is to communicate with as many people as I can who seem like they are connected to something like this or know something about it. I will make phone calls, do internet research, etc. Perhaps for once I have to go for it with a blind determination, because that's how things get done.

If you have any helpful input, please share! Thanks.

update: Ten Thousand Villages.


Wikkid Person said...

Reading and not knowing what to comment. To say "Huck Finn, not huck fin" would just be rude, but what else to comment?

fog said...

i don't care if you don't comment on this post. i'll be back to my normal posting next time. bethy's writing is so much more commentable, isn't it.

Wikkid Person said...

Yours is loftier, to be sure. It is easier to respond to down-to-heart, brass tacks stuff about a person, as opposed to a culture and its problems. Of course, I tend to zero right in on personal problems as interesting.

eatyurveggies said...

Bani!!!! You describe him perfectly. I wonder what he was thinking when he was grinning. If we knew, we probably wouldn't have such fond memories of him. It sounds like Peru could become a turning point for you.