I recently received a letter from my Grandma TenPas in which she wrote that she's still not exactly sure what I do here in Peru. I realized that this is definitely my own fault so I'm taking steps to reconcile it.
Currently, I have three main projects. Two of them have been going on for awhile and one is brand new.
1) Proyecto SUENA: This is a group of kids, ages 3-13 that meets every week. John William and I started this group together but the real leadership comes from a group of University mentors from Huaraz. We're hoping that through the kids relationships with the mentors they'll feel more comfortable with the dream of continuing their own education. We play games, do leadership activities, and are hoping to start a vocational training workshop to provide some additional structure to the group.
2) The Library: I don't even know if it's fair to call it a library... more like my bedroom where kids can check out books for two hours each day. When the school is done with it's construction I've been promised my own classroom. Once I have a classroom, I'm going to move the "library" there and start applying for books from NGOs (you need a library space before you can apply). This is a pretty informal project right now but the kids seem to love it.
3) Pasos Adelantes: In the up-coming weeks, I am going to be starting HIV/AIDS awareness classes/groups/clubs in my site and another town nearby. I've been planning both of these groups for a couple of months and finally got the go ahead from both Health Posts to get started. These groups are going to be with older kids (14-17) and are based on a manual that was written by other Peace Corps volunteers. I'm very excited to get started.
Okay, so formally, that's what I do here. But there's a lot that goes into each of those projects... for example:
- grant writing: I recently spent twelve hours writing two grant proposals
- meetings: To set up Pasos Adelantes, I scheduled and re-scheduled countless meetings. I would show up and the person the meeting was with wouldn't be there. Or they would call and cancel the meeting. Or I would go to the health post for our 9am meeting and end up sitting in the waiting room until 1pm, at which time I had youth group. Or... well you get the point.
- hang out: The biggest perk of being a youth development volunteer is that whenever I'm spending time with youth I'm doing my job. So afternoons playing Uno, throwing a Frisbee, or reading picture books to my host niece count as "work".
So hopefully that helps shed some light on what I'm doing here in Ancash.
A quick story:
This morning I was walking back to my house from the Health Post and stopped to talk to one of my neighbors and invite her to an up-coming meeting. I started playing with Rosmi, one of her daughters, who requested that we play the "Pretty Little Dutch Girl" clapping game... (my family should know what I'm talking about... I am a pretty little Dutch girl/as pretty as can be/ and all the boys around the block go crazy over me...). Of course she doesn't understand the words and, though I've thought about translating them I never have because how can you explain the lines "My boyfriend's name is Tony/he lives in the land of Bologna/with 48 toes and a pickle on his nose"?
Anyway... we were clapping and singing and across the street the neighbors were tying up a particularly unruly pig. It was making a good bit of noise so I was keeping one eye on the situation while trying to clap to the right beat. I'd look at my hands, then look at the pig. My hands. The pig. My hands... and then I looked up and they had killed the pig. Right there, on the side of the road, blood all over the place. My neighbor is just walking around with a bloody knife, there's a dead pig on the side of the road, it was ridiculous.
Probably the first, and last time, "Pretty Little Dutch Girl" will serenade a pig slaughter.