Recent Posts

March 14, 2010

Serving in the Jungle

Kelly and Micah volunteer for a fair trade company called Chanchamayo Highland Products.  Founder Jose Jorge grew up on a farm and understands how difficult it is for agriculturalists to support their families and provide a better life for their children.  He pays higher prices than most other buyers by insisting that those who produce his coffee beans and rain forest fruit do so sustainably.  But he can only buy as much as he can sell, and thus far his customers are limited to a small segment of the certified organic market in France and Germany.  One of his biggest…

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March 10, 2010

Serving in Chimbote

Chimbote is famous, both among Peruvians and former SSTers.  Peruvians think of the fish that are caught here, home to some of the best Ceviche on the coast.  SSTers think of Father Jack, Sister Peggy, Charles, Jaime and the hundreds of other characters who perform good words and minor miracles at Our Lady of Perpetual Help Parish each day. Sadly, the city still suffers from deep poverty caused in part by overfishing, this year’s El Nino effect and the resulting decline of its principal industry.  Seeking to avoid the smell that characterizes an aging fishing port, most of the wealthier…

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March 4, 2010

Service in Cusco

Sometimes you just know you are in the right place, at the right time. When heavy rains and flooding in the Cusco area arrived in late January, we were forced to cancel our plans to visit Machu Picchu.  But the disappointment this brought was little compared to the devastation suffered by those living in the low-lying areas of Lucre and Huacarpai. From the disaster emerged a new service opportunity for three of our students.  Tori, Joe and Jeff are working with pastors and volunteers from the San Jeronimo Mennonite Church to help residents of these farming communities clean up the…

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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…

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February 18, 2010

Most of Lima’s population is made up of recent immigrants from the Andes or rain forest who inhabit the “cones” located to the north, east and south of the city.   We began visiting the Southern Cone during the second week of the program to learn what conditions are like for people living on the margins — economically, socially, culturally. The city of Villa Maria is over thirty years old.  The original estera (reed mat) walls erected by the first settlers have been replaced with sturdy concrete blocks.  The residents benefit from running water, sewer and electric hookups.  The neighborhood may…

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February 14, 2010

Farewell Party

Friday night we celebrated our time here in Lima with a big party, or despedida, for our families and friends.  We thanked the host families for welcoming the students into their homes and their hearts.  We thanked the language instructors, Leo and Oswaldo, for teaching them how to communicate more effectively.  We thanked Celia for coordinating our program here in Lima.  We thanked Alicia for helping out with Goshen Tambo and hosting us at her home in Villa Maria.  And we thanked Willy for guiding us during our visits to the new settlements  south of Lima. We said our thanks…

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February 7, 2010


What do people living on the margins south of Lima need more than anything else?   There are many answers to this question, but the one that first came to mind for Corpusa is something basic and essential:  water. Chavin de Huantar is a young neighborhood an hour’s ride from the city in a place called Villa El Salvador.  Corpusa and her husband were part of the “invasion”that took place here 10 years ago.  With hundreds of other homeless families, they showed up one day with construction materials in hand and divided the land into sixty-square-meter lots — each about 20…

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February 6, 2010

We have developed a series of workshops this semester focused on how artists and artisans — dancers, musicians, cooks and others with particular talents — support themselves. We began with a workshop on dance by a long-time friend of the program, Pedro Farias.  Before demonstrating dances from the Andes, jungle and coastal regions of Peru, Pedro described what it was like to grow up in a musical family here in Lima.  He started performing at the age of four, traveling often with his parents and siblings to festivals in his family’s hometown of Piura.

January 31, 2010

We traveled an hour south of Lima and found ourselves in another world.  Before our adventure we asked the students two questions:  (1)  Are you ready for a hike? and  (2)  Have you ever spent the night in an orphanage? The consensus?  “Yes” to the first question.  “No” to the second. Quebrada Verde (Green Ravine) is a rare find just 20 miles south of the bustling metropolis.  Residents of this hidden hamlet have worked with a local nonprofit group to protect the natural area known locally as Lomas de Lucumo (Lucumo Hills).  We hit the trail eager to soak in…

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January 28, 2010

Change of Plans

We appreciate your patience waiting for our blog to be restored.  While the folks at Goshen College were dealing with the technical issues required to re-build the blog, the folks in the mountains of Peru are dealing with the heaviest rains in over a decade.  We had planned to travel to Cusco this week for a service project with a Mennonite Church in the village of Lucre followed by a visit to Inca Ruins and ultimately, Machu Picchu.  Then we learned about the flooding in Cusco — streets are like rivers, low-lying areas like ponds, the airport closed, the rail…

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