Thursday, April 29, 2010

Paucarbamba Community Meeting

Paucarbamba Community Members

It has been three months since the floods devastated the Sacred Valley ...... and the community of Paucarbamba. Almost 40 families lost their homes, livestock, crops, and their personal belongings. One thing they have not lost is their will to improve themselves. For the past three months, Casa Hogar del Sol, MySmallHelp, and Desana(the group now known as Sueños) have been working with this community..... first with food lines, then temporary comedors, then dental treatments, and now the next phase..... helping the families that want to participate in a long term growth plan for each family in the community.

Today, we held the 'kick off' meeting with the community members to explain the plan. We are so fortunate to have Nelida Huillcanina (our Agronomist) and Carlos Gibaja (Casa Hogar del Sol) to help us 'outsiders' understand the local culture. Nelida had prepared an easy to understand contract for each family to read while she explained what would be expected from each family and what they would get in return.

Nelida explaining the plan.
The families that signed up for the plan today will receive a complete program to raise and sell a higher grade cuy (guinea pig) and therefore improve their economic condition. The Sueños Plan that was approved by the team (Carlos, Nelida, Leander, Lou, George, and Kathy) is all encompassing ..... Sueños will supply the cuy, cuy food, supplements, and continuing training on raising bigger and better cuy. Much research has been done on this project and Nelida, Leander and Lou feel confident that these families will be much better off 1 year from today.

The plan is not all 'give' by Sueños .... the families in the program have signed contracts that spell out what they must do and what they must provide ...... with a timetable of when these items must be completed. Nelida and Leander (along with Cristian Calderon) will be responsible for much of the 'every day ground work'. In addition to the cuy, the community will be given FREE classes in English and other appropriate topics to be determined by the team.
Carlos signed each contract.

This day was very special to us since we have been working on it for three months. At times we thought it would never come together...... but today the magic happened ...... the community asked questions, gave important input, disagreed a little but in the end, they signed the amended contracts and everyone was happy and looking forward to working together..... the key word is TOGETHER!!!!

George and Kathy leave tomorrow for the United States ...... they feel very good about this project and look forward to working with the rest of the team.....'remotely from the US'. Louise will be heading back to the UK and she too is looking forward to working with the team via Skype from the UK. That leaves Carlos, Nelida, Christian, and Leander to do most of the work. We are in good hands since Leander is the Project Leader. Our DREAM has come true..... the community of Paucarbamba is slowing getting back on their feet and we are a small part of their recovery.
"So Kathy, wasn't this the most amazing day?"

Keep following our blog for more updates on the project in Paucarbamba ..... oh, enjoy all the photos from today.....

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Cleaning up our new classroom

by Louise Whitaker
The teacher in the school in Paucarbamba has kindly donated a classroom to us. This is fantastic news as it will enable us to get going straight away with training workshops for the community. In the first instance, Nelida, our agronomist will use the classroom to start the cuy training. After this we plan on using the classroom for English lessons, computer lessons and artisan training.

When we received the room it was pretty filthy and disorganized, so a big thank you goes to the volunteers from Loki Hostel in Cusco who helped us tidy it up and give it a good old clean!

Monday, April 19, 2010

Helping with the maize Harvest- April 9th 2010

by Leander Hollings (Mysmallhelp)

At the moment the community of Paucarbamba are busy harvesting their maize. Much of the community’s crops were destroyed in the January floods, however at the moment time is being spent seeing what can be salvaged from the maize fields.

The maize that is completely black or waterlogged is useless, that which has speckled leaves and is ok inside can be used as animal feed and those with clear white leaves can be sold on the local market for tamale making (a traditional maize dough wrapped in maize leaves) and the corn dried, and sold on the local market.

We invited a team of volunteers from Loki Hostel in Cusco to come and help Marie Elena with her Harvest. Marie Elena is a single mother with 2 children. We had already helped her fix the door to her temporary house, and wanted to offer her more support. With a fantastic Group of volunteers, kindly organised by Pauline from Loki, we all enjoyed helping Marie Elena out, getting to grips with farming Peruvian style and of course, trying the obligatory chi-cha (locally made beer from maize)

Thank you so much to all of our volunteers and we hope to continue to offer assistance with the harvest whenever we are in the community.

American Dental Mission in Paucarbamba

by Leander Hollings (Mysmallhelp)

As massive thank you goes to George and Kathy (from our partner charity Desana Giving in the US) for organising a dental mission to the community of Paucarbamba.

The team from the US and Peru worked tirelessly for 2 days treating adults and children in the community. For most members of the community it was the first time they had ever sat in a dentists chair and there was definitely a nervousness in the air when we arrived!

The dentists and their teams did an amazing job, treating people in the comedor and in a disused classroom in the school. There were huge problems with the community’s teeth as no-one in the community could confess to brushing their teeth regularly, mainly due to the cost of toothbrushes and toothpaste. The dentists gave classes on brushing techniques and left everyone with a toothbrush and some toothpaste.

As a result of this mission, we have decided to include monthly workshops within the community covering Basic personal health and sanitation to try to ensure that when the dentists return, they are not pulling out so many teeth! ( We were depressed to see 18 month old babies with decaying teeth….).

Pictured here are the Dentists, Dental Assistants and Dental Students. Left to right: Tula Oros Camargo (Dentist - Cusco Peru), Kathy Meyer (Dental Asst. - Sioux Falls, SD), Dr. Mike Houk (Dentist - Team Leader - Sioux Falls SD), Dr. Mel Thaler (Pediatric Dentist - Sioux Falls SD, Sherrie Lura (Dental Asst. - Sioux Falls, SD), Angela Cook (Dental Student - University of Nebraska Dental School), Dr. Craig Crooksley (Pediatric Dentist - Sioux Falls, SD), Melissa Guerreo (Dental Student - University of Nebraska Dental School), Addison Killeen (Dental Student - University of Nebraska Dental School), Loo Thaler (Dental Asst - Sioux Falls, SD), and Vladimir Oblitds Cuba (Dentist - Cusco Peru).

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Maria Elena's New Door - Paucarbamba

by Leander Hollings (My Small Help)

Maria Elena is a single mother who is living in a temporary adobe house in Paucarbamba with her son and daughter. Volunteers, Fredy Saavedra and his friend Geraldo went to help her make her house more comfortable. They used the wood and other materials provided by the Association Casa Hogar del Sol to seal the roof and they made a secure door with a lock so that Maria Elena can leave the house and go out to work in the fields when her children are at school. Maria Elena and her children are very grateful for the continued support from the Association Casa Hogar del Sol.