July 20, 2012

Service in Tarma

Tarma, the “Pearl of Andes,” is a city 60,000 people located in a valley between Lima and the central rain forest.  Only an hour and a half from San Ramon, the city is a principal access point to the eastern flanks of the Andes Mountains.  At 3,053 meters (10,016 feet) above sea level, the climate is completely different than the rain forest – clear skies, hot sun in the day time and cold temperatures at night.  The temperature and soil is conducive to agriculture and Tarma is sometimes referred to as the City of Flowers – cut flowers are grown here and shipped to Lima and other markets on the coast.  Vegetable production is important as well.  Many of the vegies consumed in the central rain forest are grown here.  The city is also home to a burgeoning artisan industry, e.g. weavings and paintings depicting life in the Andes.

Kaitlyn volunteers at the Compassion International child sponsorship program recently opened at Iglesia Alianza Cristiana y Misionera (Christian and Missionary Alliance Church).  The facility where she works is situated on a steep hillside overlooking the city; the neighborhood is accessible by a windy dirt road or a series of hundreds of stairs.   The families that live here are recent migrants from other parts of the region who have come here in search of work and better schools for their children.  Kaitlyn works in the kitchen, helping the main cook and her staff feed 300 children each day.  She assists however she can – cutting, chopping, mixing, serving, washing, but mostly drying – and helps to lighten the load for the kitchen team.  After everything is cleaned up she enjoys playing with the children who linger at the center, sharing games, laughter and trading words:  How do you say this in English?

Emily and Daisy volunteer at the Colegio Fe y Alegria (Faith and Happiness School) built next door just five years ago.  The school is operated with funding from the state, which makes it public, but with staffing from the Jesuit Order of the Catholic Church, which gives it the feel of a private academy.   The director, Patricia, is a nun from Australia who has devoted her life to education and it shows.  As you enter the grounds you immediately sense order, peace and respect.  The students are calm, happy and eager to learn.  Emily assists in the fourth grade classroom, giving individual attention to students and helping them work on projects, in particular crafts.  She has brought her love of music to the school and has formed a choir that practices during the first half of recess each morning.

Daisy assists in the first grade classroom, working with children who are unaccustomed to school and helping bring order to the class.  She assists with assignments and projects, lending a hand wherever she can.  She is attentive and eager to help out and the children adore the chance to interact with her.  Daisy, along with Emily and Kaitlyn, have made new friends for life and will be remembered by the staff for their excellent examples of servant leadership, willing spirits to do whatever needed to be done.

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