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Monday, May 25, 2009

Helping Hands

Over the past week, we have had an opportunity to see more of Pisco and its surrounding area. We have shopped in the market and eaten at local restaurants, we have visited and worked in outlying communities. We have tried to digest the startling pauverty here and have sat in the central plaza taking in the gaping space next to the town hall building where a cathedral once stood, having crumbled during the earthquake killing over one hundred inside.

On Tuesday thru Thursday, we worked in a bamboo-home community, rebuilding a bamboo structure more suitable to accommodate the family of five living inside. These communities are what we, unfortunately, would perceive as `shanty-towns`, erected in the dessert to house the masses of displaced people following the earthquake. The homes are typically bamboo posts, crushed bamboo walls, lined with plastic and crushed bamboo ceilings/roofs as well. These homes don’t have plumbing per say and the bathroom is often a bucket in the corner of the house. In some communities however, public toilet blocks have been built (PSF has also helped to build some of these).

Friday, we worked on a project building a fence at a school, while Saturday we attended a fundraiser in a small community of 88 families, located within a greater community (about 1,000 families) called El Molino. This community moved to their dessert location when their seaside neighborhood was wiped out during the earthquake/tsunami. They families of El Molino have banded together and have organized themselves to create some positive change in their community. PSF has been working with them to help them realize some of their needs. The local ladies cooked for us and the money raised was to support their efforts in raising funds for a medical aid station and a day care. As they are a good distance from decent health care, they would like the ability to treat minor accidents and other basic needs in a small aid station and, while work is scarce, there is no-one to look after their children when they do find opportunities. To generate income, some may clean fish at the docks at 3 or 4 am, some sell vegetabls in the market, some collect plastic bottles for the recycling refunds and some scavenge scrap metal from the rubble piles to sell by weight.

A woman, Mary, explained to us how PSF is the first group of people who has ever taken an interest in helping them and that they are eternally grateful. She explained how hard the life is there and though they seem to be fine with their shanty homes, it is not easy to live in such conditions. She delivered an emotional address that I think made us all think about the work we were doing. After spending an afternoon in El Molino and after reflecting back on our first week of work in Pisco, we are certain we made the right decision to stay an extra week to help where we can.

It was great to see a community such as this one that has pulled together so strongly to help each other and work together. It seemed like a strong environment for change and I found it inspiring to see such strength in what appears to be such desperate times.

1 comment:

  1. Your hands and feet and spirit and soul are serving your "fellow man" and making a difference in this world!