Service in Ayacucho

Posted by Kathryn Schmidt

We have five students in the Ayaucho area.  Joel, Natalie and Maddie are all in the city proper.  Natalie and Joel are next-door neighbors, and Joel and Natalie work in the same clinic so these 3 students connect frequently.  Sawyer is placed in Huanta, which is a smaller town an hour’s drive from Ayacucho and Anya is in Quinoa, an even smaller village also an hour from Ayacucho.  It was so much fun to spend a day with all 5 of these students, watching them laugh and catch up.  We visited most service placements and host families and also went horseback riding and hiking on the beautiful hills and mountainsides of Quinoa.  Willy, our service coordinator, came along to help us hire the appropriate vehicles and get us where we needed to go.

Ayacucho is a mountain city of c. 177,000 people and is 9,000 ft. above sea level.  It features many sunny days, mountain views and a dry climate.   Joel and Natalie are working at a busy clinic at the Centro Medico Belen that sees about 75 patients per day.  They process various tests in the upstairs lab.  From the photos it’s easy to see why these young undergraduates are perceived as fully trained doctors!  (I joked that they look like their own little cast of Grey’s Anatomy.)

Maddie is working in a tiny school that was started by Joel’s host mom.  She enjoys working with this small group of preschool-aged children, teaching them english songs, and helping in the class and giving them love.  She is looking forward to painting some murals at the school.  Maddie is loving Ayacucho with its charming alleys, bustling plaza and many markets and shops.

Sawyer is living in the smaller city of Huanta, pop. 90,000.  Sawyer is working very hard teaching English at the Johannes Gutenberg school, whose motto is: “Support a child and provide opportunities for life.”  The school offers a monthly support program (in a similar vein as World Vision) and as a result has a beautiful facility with computers, and more modern classrooms.  Sawyer works more hours than a typical service and is gaining lots of classroom teaching experience.

Anya is in the small artists’ community of Quinoa, a popular tourist destination as many of the homes are also private galleries.  Anya’s host parents, Ana and Macha, have an amazing compound, which features many buildings for ceramic work and display; it is a popular place for tourists.  Anya has the privilege of painting ceramic figures all day in the sun; one day she even burnt her hands!  Despite that, she is very happy in her placement and enjoying learning the popular Peruvian craft of ceramic figurine creation.  Anya’s host father is a gifted artist: please see below his life-sized ceramic nativity.

All in all, these students are doing well in this next phase of SST.  It’s fun to see them exploring these new regions, working hard, building skills, making friends and learning a ton of Spanish.

Que suerte!