March 3, 2010

Serving in Ayacucho

Three students are serving in a new province this semester.  Ayacucho is located high in the Andes, an historically important region that hosted the final battle of independence against the Spanish almost 200 years ago.  It was also the birthplace of the conflict between the Sendero Luminoso (Shining Path) and the Peruvian military in the 1980s.  While the victory against the Spanish colonialists is a source of pride to the locals, the more recent conflict between the maoist terrorists and the government soldiers continues to haunt the tens of thousands who lost family and friends.  Fortunately, the most resilient have founded churches, schools and clinics to help heal the wounds and bring hope to a new generation.

Elizabeth teaches English and spends time with the children and staff at the William Thompson Educational Institute.  There is a strong desire among parents and children in Peru to learn English, but few teachers have lived or studied abroad.  Elizabeth’s natural ease with her mother tongue and her eagerness to interact with Peruvian children make for an unusual learning experience for those enrolled here.  The school was founded by Dionicio, a high school biology instructor, and his wife, also named Elizabeth, a primary school teacher.  The couple’s goal is to provide a meaningful education to disadvantaged children living in a poor neighborhood on the edge of town.

Joshua serves at a health clinic in the village of Quinua, about an hour away.  He works in the reception area, greeting patients as they arrive and helping to keep records of the care they receive.  In the afternoons he accompanies clinic staff on home visits to nearby villages, visiting patients who are too ill to walk.  His enthusiasm, stature and eagerness to get involved help Joshua to stand out in this small community.

Kessa helped to prepare the classrooms at Vidas Kindergarten for the beginning of a new school year.  Summer in the southern hemisphere officially ends on March 21, and school begins this week.  Kessa is a natural when it comes to working with young children, energetic and eager to enter into their lives.   She spent her first two weeks helping to arrange and decorate the classrooms.   Now she is working with a group of five-year-old children who are as fun and full of energy as she is.

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