PeruCrew
Friday, June 25, 2004
 
For San Juan day yesterday we went to the community of La Merced which is about 2 hours out of town. It is so green there. I have never seen anything like it in the States. Everything just grows and grows. It was nice to see the community. We saw some of the kids that we went to camp with a few weeks ago and that was fun. We also dedicated the opening of a new well and latrines that FH put in with the cooperation of the Canadian government.

When we got back we ate Juane which is the traditional food for San Juan. Everybody was out at the rivers or in swimming pools. We drove by one place where there must have been, no exaggeration, 5000 people in one 10 acre park with one small pond and one swimming pool with another several hundred waiting in line to get in. Pretty crazy. I got a picture of it and will put it up online.

I have gotten requests for more pictures and will try to get a bunch more up this weekend. Have a great weekend and please never hesitate to post a question in the comments.

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Computer Update:
As many of you know, my brother got a bunch of computers donated to FH Peru for the offices and the Refuge of Hope. They arrived about 10 days ago, but are still stuck in customs. The staff in Lima have gone back several times but customs keeps asking for more and different paperwork. It is a good learning experience for me in how things work in a developing country. It is like trying to work with immigration in the United States. Nobody gives you the same story and everybody asks for something different. The next team leaves next Wednesday with the rest of the computers and I don't even know if they are going to be able to bring them yet because we can't get the price on how much customs is on each computer. I am not going to have them bring them if duty costs more then it would cost to buy one here in Peru obviously.

So I am learning what it is like to work with the government in a developing country. Add to all that I am trying to communicate to the Lima staff in Spanish which is still spotty at best.

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Wednesday, June 23, 2004
 
Here is an article on an agreement being reached between the US and Brazilian governments on how to shoot down drug planes near the Peru/Brazil/Columbia borders. A bunch of the missionaries I work with down here are pilots for SAM Air (South American Mission) that flies people to hard to reach jungle areas in this same region. I will be interested to hear what they say about this.

On related drug news, the head of Peru's largest airline has been declared a drug kingpin by the US. US citizens are no longer allowed to fly this airline (one of two that flies to Pucallpa). I will link a story when I find one.

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Toledo's popularity is up 1 percent to a whopping 7%. Only 7% of Peruvians approve of their president.

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Tuesday, June 22, 2004
 
Thursday, June 24th is the festival of San Juan which is a national holiday in Peru, but celebrated with more fervor here in Pucallpa. I don't know all the details, but the festival is loosely based on celebrating John the Baptist. Traditionally, people make Juana(a dish made out of potato I think) that they try to make look like the head of John the baptist. Usually families go swimming for the day as well.

The Sunday before the festival they always have a moto-taxi race which goes from 30km outside of town into Pucallpa. One of my students entered and was knocked out of the race because he hit a dog and flipped his moto-taxi. Out of the 50 people that entered the race only 10 actually finished it. It sounds like complete madness to me. My student said normally nobody gets killed, but there are ambulances all along the race to pick up the injured people. Many crash into eachother. A picture of a bunch of moto-taxis is at http://www.perucrew.com/images/feb2004/street1.jpg

I can't get the image of 50 of these things tearing down the road running into eachother.

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Friday, June 18, 2004
 
Here is an email I got from Pete (from FHUSA) who was robbed in Lima. The thank you towards the end is especially nice. The staff here in Peru is great.

Mark,

Here is an overview to clarify the details for you and the staff:

We were stopped at a red-light nearing the airport. Sharon Berg (who
was in Pucallpa with us) was sitting on the left side of the car in the back I was on the right. Suddenly her window shattered and a guy came into the window over top of her and grabbed my computer case (which had all my notes, pictures, etc.) and went back out the window. Now...from here everything is a blur, but instinctively I knew that computer held a lot of information so I must have instinctively dove threw the window...not all the way out, but up to the waist and caught the computer bag. I guess we scuffled a bit (Sharon says I was pounding on him...though I don't think I did - that wouldn't be Christian!) All I know is that I was determined to get the computer back and with God's help he (the robber) gave up and I got it back. (I then grabbed him by the collar and told him that Jesus loved him and that he better stop stealing...and then gave him a quick training on the VOC....just kidding!) Once back inside I realized I was bleeding pretty good. I guess I got a gash in my hand during the scuffle. Thankfully I had a heavy shirt on so the damage was minimal. After it happened several friendly Peruvians pulled up and asked if we were all right and then apologized for the attack. The taxi driver seemed upset...shaking his head as he took us to the airport. The airport officials didn't like all the blood I guess so they sent for an ambulance and told me to get in. Of course there was no English spoken in the ambulance, but soon American Airlines sent an interpreter who stayed with us the whole time and they told me the nurses thought I had gotten my hand broken or at least the tendon was cut. We went to one emergency room, but it looked a little rough (not too sanitary) and Rosaura told me to leave there and that she would take to the Anglo-American Hospital. Rosaura and Eduardo (her son) picked us up at 1 am for the hospital. The doctor cauterized the vein and put in about 8 stitches gave me pain killer and we headed back to the airport for the delayed flight which left at around 5 am for Houston. God was good and now I have a greater connection with Peru! In fact the warm response by bystanders and others to the incident increased my love for Peru.

A note of thanks...During my brief stay in Lima and Pucallpa, I truly
began to love the Peruvian people and especially the FHI staff. Rarely have I been in a field where I felt so warmly embraced - so quickly. God has blessed Peru with a staff that truly exhibits Jesus Christ and which lives out the Vision of Community. It was wonderful to watch how warmly the school, community and church leaders in each community embraced the FHI staff...clearly this reflects the kind of relationships FHI is building wherever you all work! This was evident as we went up river to the villages and as we visited the different schools and community events in Pucallpa. There was so much energy and joy wherever we went. It was also fun to be in the Pucallpa office and to meet all the staff and to hear what each person did. One of the things that stood out was how long many of the staff had been working with FHI. This longevity of staff tenure speaks of solid leadership and caring and relational management. Please extend my thanks to the leadership and staff of the Pucallpa office...you truly made our time memorable!

Mark...I am jealous of the great community and fellowship it seems God has blessed you with. May He continue to bless your time in Peru...and greet and thank the staff as you see them.

Pete

Peter Howard
Special Assistant to the President
Food for the Hungry
480-609-7740
peter.howard@fh.org
www.fh.org


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Thursday, June 17, 2004
 
I changed the layout of the blog a bit. I think it is more readable now.

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Wednesday, June 16, 2004
 
Sorry for the lengthy blog absence. I know it has left a profound hole in your daily routine not to have new info from me.

Last week we had the US Board of Directors as well as the President of FHI here in Peru. But before I talk about that I am realizing that the structure of Food for the Hungry is probably a bit complicated and worthy of a brief explanation.

Food for the Hungry(FH) is a partnership of several different semi-independent NGOs (Non-profits). There are 5 main funding organizations that raise the funds for the programs that are done in countries like Peru. They are: FH USA, JIFH (Japan), Canada, KFH (Korea), and FH England. These organizations are responsible for raising the funds and managing the donors (such as Child Sponsors). So when you go to www.fh.org you are visiting the website of FHUSA of which Ben Holman is the president and is headquartered in phoenix. Food for the Hungry International (FHI) is the NGO that actually does all the relief and development work. Randy Hoag is the president and FHI is headquartered in Bangkok Thailand.

So, Randy Hoag (President of FHI), Ben Holman (President of FHUSA), and the FHUSA board of directors came to Peru. I was able to go upriver with this group to one of the communities we work with there. I am going to hold off describing the community until I get back from spending a week there in early July. The visit of this group went pretty well overall I think. Unfortunately _IN LIMA_ the taxi of one of the board members was attacked by a thief who broke the window and tried to grab the bag of his wife. He then proceeded to help her hold the bag and resist the thief. But the thief pulled a knife and cut his arm and he had to go to the hospital for stitches. This is really sad for the Peruvian staff because they love their country and know that what this board member will remember is the attack. Unfortunately this is the reality of Lima. Hopefully some day this will change.

My teaching is going well. We are in the middle of teaching Microsoft Word. I am enjoying it because I am seeing real progress in many of the students. They started class literally never having used a computer and are now able to get around OK on it.

I have been asked about the demographic makeup of the class. A little over half the students are between 18-24. The remaining are adults. Each class has 16 students because we only currently have 8 computers (7 now as one of them broke) and having more then 2 students to a computer does not give them enough time on the machine. Some of the students are physically handicapped as well (maybe 1/4th of each class)

That is all for now, but I will really try to write more often. The first team with computers is arriving today in Lima. Hopefully they will make it through customs...

UPDATE: It was Peter Howard who was robbed in Lima, not Marty. I posted an email from him up above.

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Thursday, June 03, 2004
 
I read the following principals of community development used by Brazil's Prosanear (Water and Sanitation Program for Low-Income Urban Populations) project in a World Bank report on poverty. It is remarkably similar to the way FH engages a community:

  • Start community participation at the very beginning of project preparation
  • Ensure that cost-recovery and subsidy rules are clear and transparent
  • Make formal, long-term arrangements for operating and maintaining systems an integral part of the design
  • Discuss all feasible technical options and their costs with communities
  • Coordinate projects with the local government's urban development plan from the outset of preparation
  • Confirm that the local government has a strong commitment to the project and poverty reduction


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    I will be teaching Monday, Wednesday, and Friday in the afternoons starting next week. This is good as I am not getting enough Spanish practice in the office as most of the staff is usually out while I am working in the office. Lately I have found and am installing an antivirus program on all the machines in the office as well as working on teaching the staff some. I like being over at the Refuge of Hope a lot. It is a really cool place. In the afternoons they have several vocational programs happening. There is sowing, cosmetics/hair cutting, woodworking, metalworking, and computer training. The place is hopping.

    I play basketball with local americans and staff from the Refuge every Friday night and occasionally on Tuesday. I have yet to play soccer which is a bit frustrating. Speaking of soccer, the Peru national team beat Uruguay two nights ago 3-1.

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