Tuesday, November 27, 2007

November Peru Projects

Other Projects In Peru
During our three days in Iquitos, Peru we were busy organizing and managing several other projects related to the schools we are supporting there. The following is a recap of these projects.

Jack Wolff School of the Dolphins
We helped build the Jack Wolff School in Iquitos during 2004. This school has grown from 160 students to over 500 kids today. The original seven rooms have expanded to a second building with six more rooms. Our support this year was to provide $5,000 for installing electricity for lights and purchasing 50 more desks and chairs. With the new lights the teaching schedule can be expanded to include night classes. Everything seems to be in order at the school but their need for supplies and make repairs continues to be a problem. We had some good meetings with the directors to prioritize the needs at the school. We will be committed to help them in the future with intervals of $1,000 for projects such as new black boards, building repairs and school supplies.

Possible New School
There is a possibility for a new school located 46 kilometers from Iquitos on the main highway toward Nauta. Since this new highway was paved two years ago it is now possible to travel the 100 kilometers between Nauta and Iquitos in about two hours by bus. The new school location is in the village of Nuevo Triunfo which is 3 miles off the main road. The problem is the village is on a one lane dirt path which is only accessible by foot. For a new school all the building materials would need to be carried on the backs of a caravan of workers. There are about ten stream crossings on tree trunk bridges which would make transporting supplies by horseback difficult.

We met with the village directors and discussed the locations and style of school building they wanted to build. Before the plans progress too far we decided to hire a design engineer from Iquitos to visit the village and determine if the soil and foundation plans were suitable for a school. We paid the engineer $500 for this initial evaluation. If the engineer says a new building is possible the village and designer will make a budget for the construction considering the materials and extra work needed to transport supplies. A new school could cost about $20,000 for the basic building and another $5,000 for equipment and supplies. If everything goes as planned we should have a budget and enough information to decide if the village can begin construction before Christmas.

Party for Homeless Street Kids
A tradition during our last night in Iquitos is to have a birthday party for the kids who live on the streets of Iquitos. Some of the children are orphans and some of them stay in shared group rooms. Most of them live by begging food or offering to shine shoes for tourists near the main plaza. This year we walked the streets and give out 49 invitations to a secret restaurant which is serving a dinner of roast chicken, salad and fried bananas. We also serve birthday cake and have an outfit of new clothes for the kids. What is most amazing is how well behaved the kids are during dinner. Many of them have not had a full meal in days but they will sit and wait until everyone is served. Instead of eating all their dinner they always save half for tomorrow. The dinner party and clothes this year cost about $500. This is always one of the most satisfying projects for our group to be able to meet and share a meal with the kids.

Returning to Lima
When we departed Iquitos we flew back to Lima. New arrivals Patrick Hunt and Klaus Schrieber joined our group to continue for eight more days by bus to deliver supplies to the Puerto Ocopa Orphanage and Chosica Girls Home. Terry, Veronica, Peggy and Lothar returned to the United States. Eighteen year old Cristhian Correa returned to Piura, Peru after seeing his country in a new way.

Chosica Girls Home
Last year we began supporting a girls foster home in the town of Chosica. It is located on the western slopes of the Andes Mountains outside Lima. This is where eight year old Aracely lives. This year we visited the home and learned more about why the girls live there. The home is for girls ages 5 to 17 years old who have been abused or neglected. There are eighteen girls who live there now and are supported in part by the government and Catholic Church. Their living conditions are pretty basic and without frills. We had breakfast there one morning which consisted of powered milk flavored with cinnamon and a piece of hard bread. Most of their other meals are as plain.

We met the new director and his wife who live at the home. Since they took over last year they have cleaned the beds and head lice are no longer a problem for the girls. The director gave us a list of products they needed. They use lots of basic food items like bags of rice, sugar and pasta. They also needed cleaning supplies, laundry soap, shampoo and girls menstrual products. We also bought each of the girls a new change of clothes. All together we spent about $600 at the Chosica Girls Home.

The Puerto Ocopa Orphanage
We discovered this orphanage by accident in 2004 when we did a bicycle tour over the 16,000 foot Andes mountains and then continued another 200 miles into the jungle. The Puerto Ocopa Orphanage was at the end of the road without much contact from the outside world. During our tour we were very impressed with the one hundred kids at the orphanage and their needs for basic necessities. The next year we began to organize delivery trips to bring them food and clothes. This would be the fourth year we visited the orphanage to deliver products. Each year we have been able to bring larger quantities of bulk products such as rice, pasta and other cooking supplies. We brought them 100 more books for their library. This year we transported over 4,000 pounds of food and supplies which filled a small dump truck for a cost of $3,500.

During our visit we toured the sleeping areas for the boys and girls. The earthquake in August had destroyed some distant towns in Peru. The orphanage received minor damage to their 100 year old brick structure. The second floor rooms were unsafe and most of the bedrooms were moved to the first floor. Now the main sleeping rooms were jammed so tightly with beds there was barely enough room to walk between them. Most of the smaller kids were sharing beds. There are now 43 girls in 36 beds in one room. We could see they needed more bunk beds so we went 50 miles back to the town of Satipo to find a carpenter. We were able to order nine more good wooden bunk beds and eighteen mattresses for about $1,500. The members of our group were inspired by the visit to the orphanage. Patrick, Klaus and Susan each contributed several hundred dollars of their own money when they saw the needs of various projects which needed to be supported. One of the best parts of these tours are the personal contacts and connections that are developed between our group and the local people.

In the future we will continue to support the Puerto Ocopa Orphanage as part of the projects were are involved with in Peru. During our travels we were always finding more projects which could use help. We had to keep directing our focus to projects we could start and finish within our budget. It was always hard to say no to someone who needed help. We are reevaluating all the plans and projects in Peru for the upcoming year. We want to thank everyone for their support this past year for making all these projects possible.

TAX deductible donations for future
projects can be made to:

Christ Lutheran Church Peru Fund
P.O. Box 303
Sharon, WI 53585

Contact: Lon Haldeman


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