Greetings from Perú

Posted on January 13th, 2014 by

Due to some technical difficulties and limitations here in Perú, our first post is later than expected. We left Gustavus Friday morning and arrived in Lima late Friday night. We spent a night in a local hotel, and left early the next morning for a long bus ride north to Chimbote. Throughout the bus ride we were able to take in the Peruvian countryside and coast, witnessing a stark contrast between the lifestyle of the Peruvians living in the parts of Lima we drove through. Small, hand-built houses dotted the mountainsides, some in clusters, others alone, along the Pan-American highway, and we saw few cars, primarily trucks and construction vehicles. The amount of vegetation varied widely from place to place along our route as miles of mountains and sand dunes would suddenly give way to green oases with communities drawn to the water source.

When we arrived at the mission, we were greeted by Katie, the volunteer coordinator, Sister Peggy, and Father Elmer. Our first night here we attended a Catholic mass performed in Spanish in the mission church with citizens of Chimbote. The mission is a center of growth and support in the community and thrives off donations because it is not government affiliated. In the mission complex where we are staying, there is a church, dormitories, classrooms, recreation and eating area, two libraries, gym, playground, and some of the greatest views of the city.

On Sunday we were given a tour of Chimbote and the various mission outposts in the community. There are seven soup kitchens that offer meals once a day and serve hundreds of families and the outposts also provide libraries and church services for people who cannot travel to the main parish.

The weather is comfortably warm during the day and cool at night, which has been wonderful! We have been here for two days, and we have already played two soccer games to enjoy the beautiful weather.  By inviting more and more locals and members of the mission to play with us, we are getting to know the culture, people, and Chimbote better and having a great time!

Today was the first day of teaching and healthcare for us, and both groups had to be flexible with some unexpected events. Class sizes for the first day of teaching were lower than expected and many kids showed up unexpectedly as well, so there was flexibility with planning for the groups`various sizes. The kids were very excited to speak in both Spanish and English, and their energy was contagious. We had a fun time reading, playing games, singing, and drawing to practice English words through memory and action.

The healthcare team began orientation by visiting the local hospice where we will begin work tomorrow. As we discussed the scarcity of water and the widespread diseases, we began to understand public health issues in Perú and our roles here for the next two weeks. Our orientation was cut short because of a miscommunication between coordinators, but we were flexible with the situation and returned to the mission to see the morning students off for the day.

We look forward to the coming weeks along with the surprises and challenges they will bring!

Dan Ly & Rebecca Hare


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