Monday, November 3, 2008

Peru Mission Report

As I mentioned in a post at the time, we were on a parish mission trip to Peru in mid-October. (Hence my use of Blogger's "scheduled post" feature.) Sunday's St. Al's bulletin includes a summary.
The mission to Paita is divided into two parts. The first part is helping the students of Santa Clara School, operated by the School Sisters of St. Francis headquartered in Milwaukee and staffed by Peruvian Sisters, learn American English. The students in the school begin learning to speak English when they arrive at the school at four years old. They learn from books, tapes, and Peruvian teachers speaking English who have also learned from books, tapes and English-speaking Peruvian teachers. The goal is to help the students in conversation become accustomed to English the way we speak it.

That was our part. We taught several classes each day. The school had six primary grades and five secondary; students graduate at around age sixteen.

One day there was some event across the road that included an extremely loud public address system. The program included playing all the verses of the Peruvian national anthem, followed by all the verses of what the kids told us was the Canto de Paita, the Song of Paita. The kids then surprised us with a request to sing the Star-Spangled Banner. I've never paid closer attention to the words.
At the farewell party, the third grade class treated the visitors to an English version of the "Three Little Pigs" in English they had learned.

In the back of my mind, it recalled
The second part of the mission is to the people in Marco Jara. Marco Jara is a mixed neighborhood on the outskirts of Paita. There are areas of houses made of straw mats, adobe brick and cement block.

These communities start with people moving in and building houses of straw mats. If they can later afford it, they will upgrade by rebuilding a room or the whole house with sticks. Eventually, they may be able to rebuild with brick or block.
Most areas of Marco Jara have electricity, but some are without, water is limited to just a few water faucets in the area and no homes have running water.

If enough people move to one of these settlements, the municipality will extend elecric service. Eventually the people might even get water piped in to neighborhood spigots, from which they can take their household water in buckets.
The families living in Marco Jara try to earn a living in the fish factories where they are paid 2 1/2 soles per hour, roughly 75 cents.

Working in a fish processing plant is one of the better jobs available. We were shown the Hayduk operation, from the previous night's catch unloaded at the dock to the finished products, including frozen kosher whiting fillets.
Many of the children are under-nourished and lack basic medical care. ... Through donations of medicine and lab equipment the pharmacy is able to help the people of Marco Jara with low cost medicine and some basic lab tests. ...

Others in our group worked at Marco Jara with after school programs for children, which included a meal to meet some of the common dietary deficiencies. The meal program is run by Propanide, a local group.

As often happens, our path crossed that of someone else on a mission, in this case people with the Oshkosh Rotary Club's Project Peru - Soy Cow Program.
Friendship Without Borders was also instrumental in connecting a Rotary Club from Oshkosh with the Mayor of Paita to set up the operation of a soy milk machine. This machine will be able to produce up to 250 liters of soy milk to be distributed to the poor of Paita.

I believe that's per day, subject to the soy bean supply.
Thanks to the generosity of the sending community of St. Alphonsus and other donors,

Including blog readers.
Friendship Without Borders was able to continue its relationship with the people of Paita and to provide a small portion of the needs of the people of Marco Jara. Each site was left with a monetary donation to help with needs that come up during the coming year.

For example, keeping the meal program going.
As much as the missionaries take to those in need,

And if you're inclined to say it was only a duffel bag of supplies each, some money, and a week or so there, I agree.
all feel they are more than blessed by the love and hospitality they receive.

It was like being the opposite of a scapegoat.

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