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April 7, 2010

Final Days in Peru

We finished our program back where it began three months ago — at the edge of the Pacific Ocean.  Kauai is a retreat center operated by the Biblical Union Church, a two-hour drive from Lima.  The facilities include simple accommodations, a meeting area, a pool, and the star attraction — a wide, sandy beach. We began our first day revisiting our theme of poverty and migration.  We asked each student to describe the particular problem that his or her service organization was attempting to solve.  How were they succeeding?  How were they not?  Then we moved outside and posed another…

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April 7, 2010

Lake Titicaca

When we realized the railroad to Machu Picchu would be closed this season due to heavy rainfall and flooding, the students and directors began discussing alternatives.  We immediately reached a consensus.  If we couldn’t visit the capital of the Inca Empire, we would instead visit the legendary birthplace of the first Incas and the center of the Andean World:  Lake Titicaca. Not only did we learn a lot about the past during the last week of the term, but our trip to the highest navigable lake in the world gave us a chance to experience living culture among people who…

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March 29, 2010

Final Projects

Our students returned to Lima this weekend after finishing their six-week service terms, a happy reunion. While living in the provinces each had an opportunity to research a topic of interest, using personal interviews as their primary source of data.  We began the weekend with a stimulating day of research presentations at Goshen Tambo.  The titles of their presentations reveal a wide variety of topics

March 29, 2010

Reflections by Julia Baker: “It was our second day here at Yurac Yacu and we had a lunch invitation. Nancy, one of the Peruvian women that works at The Lazy Dog Inn, was having a birthday and it was being celebrated with a nice lunch, a feast we were of course invited to even though we had never met Nancy. Crowded into Nancy’s dark adobe house we ate together – tin plates piled high with potatoes, a cuy and very spicy sauce. A one-liter coke bottle was passed around and squares of chocolate cake toppled onto the tin plate. For…

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March 25, 2010

“Colores en Casa” by Julia Baker Standing on the corner of Arequipa and Angamos, I see her, A splash of color against the gray. Hot pink, orange and blue, skirt fanned around her knees. A woven manta, heavy with child, crosses her shoulders. In her hands, the bottom half of an empty Inca Kola bottle, her begging cup. Looking out across the meadow, I see her, A rainbow at home against the green fields. Sheep, cows and children flock around her. A striped manta, full of herbs, luisa, anis, balanced on her back. In her hands, the mano of her…

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March 23, 2010

Serving in Huaraz

There are seven students serving with four organizations in the greater Huaraz area. Sarah and Julia are volunteering for Andean Alliance, a nonprofit organization started several years ago by Diana and Wayne, owners of the Lazy Dog Inn.  Each morning our students leave the comfort of the Inn and walk a bumpy trail to a nearby community of Quechua-speaking farmers.  They work with preschool age children, promoting early childhood development among a population of kids that receives relatively little physical, intellectual and emotional stimulation.  In the afternoons, they devote their energy to teaching English and playing games to help further…

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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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