Early Childhood programs in Chimbote are community supported with the teacher’s salary supplemented by the state. Because of this, the classroom environments vary greatly. WGC in field staff, Selena visits a few of these programs regularly. She provides demonstration lessons and works directly with children. On Tuesday and Wednesday she took us to two of these classrooms. The first was a 30 minute walk from her home in Chimbote, from the busy city streets into what becomes the campo, farm area. The classroom has walls and cement floors. It is attached to a primary school. The teacher Mari regularly has 12-14 children. But we are in the last days of the school year, so few were in attendance. The children were happy to see Selena and excited to meet her mother!
The next school we visited is a school operated by Edith, one of our Pushaq Warmi women. Her classroom is in Nuevo Chimbote. It is a structure she has built herself. It exist within thatch walls and dirt floors, she has child size furniture and organized learning materials. She regularly has 12 children, 5 of those children will be rising to primary school when the next school year begins in March.
Both of these classrooms have the most important resource in an early childhood classroom, a caring compassionate teacher. Mari and Edith welcome Selena and the demonstration lessons she provides. They are open to suggestions and eager to attend workshops and try out new ideas. We look forward to continuing our partnership with the early childhood education programs in the Chimbote area.
Peru Immersion Trip Volunteers featured on Pushaq Warmi’s Sunday Morning Radio Show
Early Sunday morning the team was met by Anne Catherine Mora, WGC field staff in Chimbote, to walk us to Radio Santo Domingo station. We were met by Sandra and Rosalia of Pushaq Warmi and warmly greeted. Eager to start the show, Sandra gave us an overview of the format, who would speak in what order and topics to be addressed. Kyra Loehnis, nutrition graduate student, had wisely asked ahead of time and was prepared with her answers and notes in Spanish. Kyra answered questions about nutrition issues in Chimbote, specific to sugar and protein in one’s diet. She was followed by Dr. Tomas Uribe who transitioned from he topic of nutrition and its relation to healthy teeth. He spoke of the need to get regular check ups and avoid sugars in young children’s diet to create lifelong dental habits. Both Rosalia and Sandra had questions about dental health which added to the conversation. Finally, Fr. Clemente commented on his impressions of the community here in Chimbote and his activities since arriving.
As we returned to our hotel, we walked through the Plaza de Armas where marching corps were lining up and bands began to play. It was all in celebration of Chimbote’s 110the anniversary as a municipality.
Later in the day we enjoyed a delicious lunch with the Incarnate Word Missionaries and the CCVI sisters in Chimbote, Hermanas, Leonila, Hirayda, Sophie, Lourdes and Mirella. Lunch at La Fontana is always a treat because it is the place with the most greenery in all of Chimbote, that we have ever seen. Food was typical Peruvian, cuy, ceviche, fish etc. Drinks were typical also, pisco, Cuzquena beer and lemonade. We enjoyed socializing and spending the time getting to know each other.
The weather combined with the company made for a perfect Sunday outing.
The day started with Fr Clemente saying Mass at the house of the CCVI sisters. It was a wonderful start to the trip as we reflected on the daily gospel and our purpose here.
The group then followed Hermana Mirella to the Hospicio. She gave a tour and explained the updates of the Sistema de Salud.
Then the afternoon was spent preparing for the workshops tomorrow. The bulk of the workshops will be during the day from 9a – 3p, definitely a busy day.
Before dinner we took a walk to the plaza where we discovered it was World AIDS Awareness day. The community hospital laid out their AIDS quilt and had an uplifting dance performance. It was a fitting end to our day as it reminded us of the mission of the CCVIs to serve the community during healthcare crisis and beyond.
The day ended with dinner at Mar y Luna with the women of Pushaq Warmi. 23 of us sat together and caught up on family and friends. It was a wonderful end to a busy day. Although tomorrow promises to be even busier!
The WGC Peru Immersion trip team has arrived safe and sound. It was a joy being reunited with the Incarnate Word Missionary, Selena Mitchell, who works on our community projects here. She was in Lima completing her residency status paperwork. It was extra joyful for traveler Clara Mitchell to meet up so early with her daughter! Day 1 was spent running errands in Lima, exchanging money, setting local phones – and of course grabbing a great meal; that first plate of ceviche is always so good. Early the next day, Wednesday, we boarded the bus to Chimbote. The daytime bus is great to take to see the glorious coastline of Peru, which you get to see plenty of during the 7 hour ride.
We arrived and checked into Hotel Vertiz at about 8pm. We shared quick introductions with other Incarnate Word missionaries, Diane, Mark, and Juan. Then settled in for a good rest. Tomorrow will start early!
It is time for WGC staff and volunteers to wrap up this particular edition of the travel blog for a 2-part Africa immersion trip over the past month. In mid July, Dr. Neeta Singh and Nutrition graduate student Maeycela Barrons worked with the BUWEA women on child nutrition training and food planning for the new Child Care Center. In Part 2, WGC Assoc. Director Alison Buck and dedicated volunteers Barb Kelly, Jonathan & Sylvia Hardy, and Elaine Talarski learned so much about the lives, concerns, priorities and projects of BUWEA women in Tanzania and WE-CAN women in western Kenya. We gathered data especially about our new partnership with WE-CAN and we all conducted trainings for capacity building of the wonderfully capable and motivated women we met. They indicated that our presence and our words helped to encourage them. They certainly inspired us! In addition, we spent time at Hekima Secondary School in Bukoba teaching the girls and a new mom’s group about entrepreneurship. We came away with many ideas on next steps and needs to be addressed. In the process we learned much from one another and became a better team. The BUWEA women continue to advance and became resources for others we met. Some pretty cool guys helped us in our travels and visits too. We’re grateful to report that 5 of our 7 travelers to Africa are safely home while the last two will return next week. If you are thinking you might be interested in next summer’s immersion trips, either to Peru or Africa, watch for information and meeting dates later this fall.
We were all impacted greatly by the jiggers treatment sponsored by WE-CAN on our last day in Kenya. This flea caused skin eating disease has been eradicated in some African countries but is still prevalent in particularly poor, red dirt areas of Kenya. This village of Mukangu is very impoverished where people don’t have even enough for one meal a day. It’s a vicious cycle – due to the disease kids do poorly in school or don’t attend, adults are unable to work, people can’t afford the basic sanitation and hygiene techniques, shoes, and concrete floors that would prevent infection or reinfection. Here again, Regina pointed out women’s empowerment would make a big difference in women taking charge of the disease in their families. We were particularly impressed by the university students and WE-CAN volunteers who treated those affected, and later went to their homes to fumigate them. WE-CAN will return to offer and reinforce training on basic sanitation and hygiene. It seems so simple – daily soap and water on the feet, wearing shoes, better floors, and Vaseline on the feet at night. But this is a long term systemic problem. Our partner in Kenya are making an important difference.
We’ve had an amazing 3 days so far working with Rose Wamalwa and WECAN. We have met 250 women in 6 different women’s groups, heard some of their stories, and visited their projects. Mama Regina and Mama Rachel are offering their experience and insights to all, and WGC provided 8 trainings on Nutrition,
Menstrual Health, and Starting/Growing A Business. A wonderful picture of collaboration.
The Mutoyi Vision Group presented us with a gift of a live chicken, a high honor in the local culture. This gift showed how excited the women were to participate in the learning opportunities. We were thrilled and honored to receive this gift, as can be seen in the picture of Alison Buck, Associate Director, joyfully accepting the gift. (Separate, on Facebook)
Going back a few days to cover our last 2 days in Bukoba. Thursday was a whirlwind of workshops held at the Soy Factory on Starting/Growing a Business, Grief and Loss, and Safety/Hygiene/First Aid, all very appreciated and providing new information. We said our farewells the next day at a seaside lunch after our consulting time with Jesca and Polina on office/grant management. They are doing such a great job with everything!
Today – Friday – was definitely interesting as 8 people and a lot of luggage (I warned the company) piled into a safari wagon with no air of course and one person sat on a cooler rather than a real seat. We made a 10 hour journey which took us first to the Uganda border, then through Uganda over bumpy roads where we arrived tonight at Jinja. We only have about 4 hours to go tomorrow to Kenya where we will be for the next 5 days. First we shall see the mouth of the Nile River here. And today we drove over the equator back to the north side. Very interesting history and much poverty. The water is out all over Jinja except for one part of this hotel – even though the biggest lake and river in the world are nearby. We are enjoying traveling with 3 women coming from Bukoba. Excited to see Rose and her projects tomorrow.
Tuesday afternoon August 9… After the Child Development workshop and demonstrating activities to do with young ones, our group was privileged to explore BUWEA’s 50 acre soy farm. The Tanzanian government donated the land in 2005 and BUWEA has operated it as an income producing operation since then. Jesca led us on a tour of the grounds and answered many questions. We were accompanied through the fields of cassava, cabbage, and peppers currently growing by Ms. Pangani, a retired District commissioner who has been wit us and BUWEA. She has 600 affiliated BUWEA members in another city. We were all impressed by the rotating duties of weeding and harvesting cooperatively distributed among the BUWEA women’s groups that keep this endeavor humming. Security and periodic heavy lifting are done by a few BUWEA husbands who live on the property. A beautiful picture of collaboration!