Tuesday, October 26, 2010

The cuys have landed!

Wednesday 26th October

The cuys have arrived at Cuylandia!

The first guinea pigs have been distributed to the people that have built the homes for their guinea pigs and have grown their food donated by Paskay and have followed all of the training sessions.

According to the “socios” members of the Cuylandia project they are very happy with their guinea pigs and are now more excited than ever about their guinea pig rearing businesses.

The balanced guinea pig food has also been distributed to the “socios” members that have their guinea pigs. They need to make sure that they pick up their 1.3kg of guina pig food from the president each day.

The last guinea pig training session took place today at Cuylandia and the guinea pigs are going to receive their tags on Thursday.


. Each family including in the Cuylandia contract with Paskay are visited on Friday each week to check how they are progressing.

· The growth of their alfafa

· Construcion of the homes for the guinea pigs

· Interest in rearing guinea pigs

· Evaluation on how they have understood the guinea pig rearing training course provided by Paskay

On 1st October 2010 our agronomist reported that 50% of the members have built the homes for their guinea pigs, , 70% had planted the alfafa to ensure that the guinea pigs will have enough food) and 95% are interested in learning more about their new guinea pig rearing business.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Helen Osborn and her experience

I arrived in Ollanytatambo last Friday (1st October) this is my second visit to the town, my last visit was two years ago when my friends and I were on the tourist trail to Machu Picchu. This trip to Ollanta has been a lot rawer than my previous experience. When I say rawer what I mean that working with Leander and Casa Hogar del sol has meant that there is no way of escaping the problems of this town as I have been able to expereince really being part of the community. The work that Leander and CHDS are doing is truly having a great impact on lives of the communities and individuals here.

On my first night we went to visit Lurdes, an 18 year old girl that Leander is working with who has osteogenosis imperfecta (brittle bones disease). Lurdes family are extremely poor, both her mother and step father are alcoholics and on days when Leander or none of the other volunteers are able to take her out she i resigned to the house as she does not have a working wheel chair. What Leander and CHDS are aiming to do for Lurdes is to get her an electronic wheel chair through a recycling campaign in which they need to collect 50,000 bottle tops in exchange for purchase of the chair. This week we printed and gave out posters in hostels in Cusco, one of which being Loki the biggest chain of hostel in south America, so you can imagine their support is greatly appreciated. Lurdes also attends a private jewellery work shop run by Leanders friend Cristian Davila, who is an extremely talented artisan and the owner of the jewellery business Pez de Plata. Lurdes Hands have developed perfectly normally so Cristian is able to teach her his skills in the hope that she may be able to sell her work in the future. Cristian has donated tools and silver for Lurdes to make the first bracelet for herself and 2 additional bracelets which she will be able to sell and invest back in to more silver for her small business. Lurdes really enjoys the workshops and Cristian can see that she is already very talented. Lurdes is very dedicated and concentrates hard as she works with her hands. She showed us a chain that she had made for her brother woven from bronze in hoops a truly beautiful traditional style. I think with the continuation Cristians help this could be a real

opportunity for her. Another aspect of Leander’s work with Lurdes that I was able to see is the research into finding Lurdes a more stable place to live. As I explained earlier both her parents are alcoholics and Lurdes is extremely unhappy living at home due to fear from her step father’s behaviour when he is drunk and lack of care from her mother when she is in the same state. Leander is looking into homes in Cuzco mainly; however on the way back from Tastayoc on Monday Lurdes also had her own idea. We went to visit her biological father’s sister who Lurdes had not seen in nearly 8 years! The aunt agreed that it was not acceptable for Lurdes to be living in such circumstance and offered that Lurdes could live with her family. Her aunt seemed very nice, the house was lovely and her children all go to school and seemed perfectly well cared for. However a decision has not been made as caution is needed to ensure that the family situation we saw on Monday is a reality and consideration is needed into the fact that her aunt house is a bit remote and could mean Lurdes is even more isolated. Yesterday (Tuesday 5th) Leander received a phone call from a tv station who want to interview Lurdes about her situation and the recycling campaign.

We visited the community of Tastayoc on Monday 4th; I was utterly impressed by the work that had gone on in the community, with their new schools, green houses, soup kitchen, childrens playground, and toilet shower block. These investments in the community have majorly improved the community’s life style; all the children now regularly attend school and have a fantastic teacher. Many of the children only speak quechua so they are being taught Spanish in class but they all also seemed very eager to be taught some English. We ate with the community at lunch time, the meal was a mixture of vegetables and tuna, all the vegetables had been grown by the community in their green houses. Therefore thanks to the investment from CHDS we can be confident that all the children are receiving health regular meals.

On Tuesday 5th we went to Cusco with 21 members of the main community CHDS is working with (Paucarbamba) to a government run guinea pig farm where the members of the community could learn how to successfully rear guinea pigs to sell. CHDS is working very closely with this community because they were so extensively effected by the flooding last winter, many of them are still unfortunately living in tents. The trip to the guinea pig farm had a great turn out, and the communities members seemed extremely interested and determined to make this business venture work ( I caught a couple of the men from the group exchanging how many notes they had!). The engineer giving the training told us that she hopes the first lot of guinea pigs (around 100) to ready to by 5th November for the community. World Vision was also working with this government run guinea pig farm so it is clearly a well established project.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Vicky Armstrong: Last Update

Well, my time here in Ollantaytambo has come to an end, I taught my last lessons yesterday at Rumira school. Last week was a bit of a strange one because of the strike. The schools were closed Tuesday to Thursday because of the roads being closed, which meant no teaching. Last Saturday a group of Canadian tourists arrived in Cusco with one of the project´s founders, Mama Sharon for a tour of the Cusco area. Carlos, the president of the organisation, runs a tour company called and was running their tour. Our role was to take a group of ten children down to the airport to greet the tourists. When the tourists arrived we held up a banner greeting them saying, ´Welcome Mama Sharon´, they were each presented with a flower by one of the children and we all got on a coach to go into Cusco for lunch.

Children wait with flowers; Mama Sharon arrives; Lunch in Cusco

On Sunday, it was a day off from working and I went for a walk up in the hills behind Ollantaytambo with Henry, the cook who is living with us at the moment. The views were stunning but we couldn´t find a path up the mountain so ended up scrabbling up what felt like an almost vertical slope (if it had been a ski slope, it would have been a black run!). I felt quite nauseous at the top, not sure if it was altitude sickness or fear at the steep inclines on either side of us at the top!

I have taught lessons in schools in Tastayoc, Paucarbamba and Rumira this week. All of them seemed to have learnt some English since I´ve been here..running up to me when I arrive at the school and asking ´What´s your name?´.
The class at Paucarbamba school

I have tried to teach them ´How are you?´this week but this seems to be a bit more challenging! I ate soup with the children in Tastayoc this week as we arrived just as they were eating. This food is provided by the project and gives the children one good hot meal a day.

In Rumira this week we managed to get Libertad, a seven year old neighbour into school. She has not been going to school since her last school kicked her out for some reason (from what I can gather it has something to do with her dad not being around to sign some papers…). She usually hangs around the streets or knocks on the volunteer house, looking for something to do all day. Although all children in Peru are intitled to education, the schools in Ollantaytambo said there was no room for her and she would have to wait until the beginning of the school year (April 2011) it was really great that we were able to get her into school in Rumira. However, it is not a solution in itself as Libertad now has to either catch a bus to school which will cost 2 soles a day, or walk for 30 minutes to get there, along a dusty road. She´ll have to go on her own because her mum won´t take her. Libertad´s mum struggles with alcohol and doesn´t seem that interested in Libertad´s education. She had initially agreed to go with us on Monday to Rumira school however, when we went round at 8am we were told she had gone out and left the 3 children, (one is only 2 years old). Libertad had become reluctant to go to school and had to be persuaded. Having spent 3 days in school now this week, Libertad is loving it and we´re hoping that her mum will be able to find the 2 soles she needs everyday to get to school, but already this week Libertad has come knocking on our door in the morning asking for her bus fare.

Children lining up for school; Class 1 sing a song (Libertad is the girl in the green t.shirt)

Leander went up to Tastayoc on Tuesday with the Canadian tourists to take part in a baptism ceremony. Godparents baptise children here and it is an important role to be a godparent in a child´s life. It was a lovely occasion and the people in Tastayoc prepared lamb for the tourists, cooked especially underground!

Pictures of the Baptisms at Tastayoc

Last night I cooked a traditional roast chicken dinner as a farewell meal in the house, so all that´s left to say is good luck to Leander with her work on the project and thank you to everyone in Ollantaytambo for being so welcoming!