Monday, March 29, 2010

Peru's Flood Victims: My Small Help

My Small Help is committed to providing immediate disaster relief for flood victims in Cusco and income generation schemes for affected families.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

School Supplies for Paucarbamba

On Friday we visited Paucarbamba to distribute school supplies to the children of the town. Since the floods it has been a struggle for the students to get back into a routine. Since there is currently no electricity they are currently doing homework and studying by candlelight. The situation has improved since Asociacion Casa Hogar del Sol has built the comedor (with funds from MySmallHelp); where the children can work under the electric light. But having a place to do homework is not enough if they lack materials to work with.

The community, concerned about the education of it's children, requested school supplies. We had the parents of Paucarbamba compile a list of what the children needed and thanks to the generous support of American organisation, Desana Giving, we were able to distribute supplies to 29 children from the community.

The lined up eagerly at the door of the comedor where we were organising the stationary and waited their turn as we called them in one by one. Their eyes lit up as they recieved their notebooks, markers, dictionaries and folders. These small items we would otherwise take for granted means the world to these children who have lost so much in the flood. We know that these materials will improve the quality of their education and help restore a sense of normality as we help them rebuild bit by bit.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Building a Comedor (Dining Room)

Saturday 20th March

Fourteen of us volunteers headed out to Paucarbamba to build a comedor (dining room) for the lower portion of the village. We were fortunate to have the rain hold off while people hammered away at the structure. Many joined in the construction, including children who, lacking a hammer, used stones to pound in nails. All are quite creative, for example: bottle caps were used in lieu of washers. Nails are hammered through the bottle caps to prevent the tarp from tearing off of the nails. The women of the village were busy cooking up a delicious meal while others laboured. It was an all day project, with everyone doing their part. By sunset the project was completed and we all enjoyed a hot meal together.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Parariwa Hostel has been busy collecting donations for the people of Paucarbamba. By this week they had collected three large bags full of much needed articles such as clothing, towels, shoes, carry bags, winter scarves, and undergarments. There was something in the bags to satisfy a need for everyone. A carload of five volunteers delivered the donations to the grateful group, dividing the collection of donations among the community. A big “Thank-you!” to all who contributed.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Productive Meeting

Tuesday 16th March

Leander and Carlos hard at work planning!

We had a really productive meeting with Carlos, the director of the charity with whom we are working.

Meetings have been arranged this week with experts in micro-finance and agronomy, to help us get a clearer understanding of the options available for developing sustainable businesses for the flood affected community of Paucarbamba.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Visit to Arariwa (farming micro finance organisation)

Four members of the disaster relief team, Leander Hollings, Louise Whitaker, Collette Brown, and Laura Routsong, made a visit to the Cuy Farm in Huayllapampa to further research the feasibility of promoting the Cuy as a viable and sustainable income for the village of Paucarbamba. The administration was very helpful in providing statistics, financial figures, and more in-depth information regarding the purchasing, raising, and selling of the Cuy. Spreadsheets have been created and meetings are being held to ensure all vital information is provided, before embarking upon implementation of the project. It’s important to have all variables known before making the decision to move in this direction. Thank-you to Freddy for having volunteered to be driver on this day.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Incredible Work

3rd March 2010, Wednesday

This Wednesday we recieved an increadible donation from a friend in Lima named Rosita, one hundred triplay wood sheetsª These will be used to construct our preposed Cuy farm in Paucarbamba, although we have yet to decide on the final logistics.
We picked up the sheets in Cusco with our chauferred camión and began our lengthy journey into the Valley. After a beautiful 3 hour ride we arrived in Ollantaytambo at Carlos's house where the sheets will be stored untill we are ready to use them. Carlos's brother Rojelio, our friend Christian and our friendly driver unloaded the sheets into the watertight safety of one of the rooms.
The days delivery done, we eagerly specualted over dinner about how we were to best use the donation in uniting the upper and lower communities and providing a sustainable income. We look forward to working further with our Cuy farm project and thank Rosita once again for bringing our vision a step closer.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Strange Peruvian customs: Peru

Saturday 27th February

We were invited to a fiesta that the community were having on Saturday night which was great fun and their way of saying thank you for the help we have given so far. The centre of the celebration was a pre-chopped tree which was decorated with plastic kitchen utensils (!).

Everyone forms a circle and dances round the tree with couples taking it in turns to chop at the trunk. Whenever anything falls off the tree the children run to collect it and when the whole tree falls it is a mad rush to grab the gifts!

Publicising the problems : Peru

Saturday 27th February

We were lucky enough to have David with us on Saturday. David is a documentary film maker from the UK, who was staying in Lima and has come up to Cusco to film the problems in the region and is being extremely generous in donating this film to us (completely free) to use in publicising the appeal. Watch this space for footage.

Image: David interviewing a local boy

A good feeling! : Peru

Saturday 27th February

After a mamouth shop in Urubamba market we drove down to the affected community with 2 days worth of food supplies and, more importantly, lots of school items for the children, who start school again on Monday after the long summer holidays.

Most of the children in the community of Paucarbamba lost everything and with school starting it was important that we helped provide them with books, pens, colours etc. It was a lovely feeling to be creating 22 piles of school things for the secondary age children and they were delighted with their gifts and are all now set for school.

As we were leaving the community a rainbow appeared…..

Cuy Research: Peru

Friday 26th February

Following on from the last blog entry, Carlos and I, accompanied by Nellida and her boyfriend (Nellida is a Cuy expert and an agronomist) visited a government run Cuy Farm close to Cusco. We wanted to understand more about rearing Cuyes and the different options available, as well as learning more about the costs and profit margins that could be available to the community. It was extremely interesting and the project is run by a young Peruvian lady who has offered to help us with our project. A really encouraging visit!

Presenting the idea: Peru

Tuesday 23rd February 2010

On Tuesday, Carlos, Eddy and I went to Paucarbamba to present the idea of the Cuy Farm(Guinea Pig Farm). Most Andean Campesinos (farmers) will have Cuy (guinea pigs) running around their house, close to the oven where it is warm. Cuy are a popular delicacy in the Andes in Peru and they are consumed on special occasions by the Campesinos and more regularly, by tourists in Cusco.

One of our hopes for the community is that they become self sufficient through a Cuy Project. Cuy are ready to eat and sell after 2 or 3 months if reared properly and there is significant profit to be made which will help the community rebuild their houses and lessen their dependence on our food donations.

Carlos presented the plan and it was met with much enthusiasm. The name of the project is Cuylandia (guinea pig land!) and we still have more research to do but it was an encouraging start!