Tuesday, July 29, 2008

For Sale!

We are in the heart of our 2nd Artesian Fair. I thought the first one was a lot of work - this one is 5x the energy. (It's also a lot longer - an entire week of selling). We are on Day 5 and have sold some things here and there, but not as much as I was hoping for. Many people have passed by our stand, interested, asking, commenting, "how beautiful"...but not buying. One of our groups worked really, really hard to make ponchos for this fair, and as of today still haven't sold anything. Breaks my heart. For me it is so eye-opening to be on the selling side. Even just selling one little thing - an earring for less than a dollar, brings hope to a women struggling to get by. I have often been on the buying side, "too much money," "not interested right now...." or whatever other excuse there might be. That buy that I almost made, or make in the future, that is hope for someone on the other side. Reassurance. Support. Got to keep our head up - the big buy is coming soon....

In the meantime we are holding mini classes in our stand to attract more customers. This afternoon it was sewing with ribbon. At one point we had a crowd of more than 20 people checking us out. It is good propaganda for Discover Hope and a huge self esteem boost (or embarrassing moment) for our women. But, after today we may have recruited a whole new bank of women, who knows?

Saturday, July 26, 2008


Exhausted...nice title, huh? There is really no other word to describe how I feel. This has been the fullest, most stressful week of my Discover Hope life in Peru - new banks, classes, Strategic Planning meetings, disagreements with co-works, somewhat normal things that just seem to pile up one on top of another. Oh, and our Artesian Fair started yesterday. I was expecting about 20 plus women to participate with their goods, and as of yet we have less than half of that. Everyone backed out on me in the last minute - no time, can't do it, we don't have enough things to sell. We are making the most of it and gonna sell what the women have - which is beautiful stuff. I just think we might run out of stuff in the next couple of days and then we will be left with an empty stand. Hoping we are left with an empty stand because that means that people will have sold things! That is the point.

I was planning on leaving the women in charge of the stand to sell, but being that this is our 2nd Feria we are a little low on the experience side. So I am spending more time in our stand than I had planned - working overtime, but since my brother is coming soon, I will reclaim my free time to entertain.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Walk, Walk

I desperately have been wanting to walk out in the countryside - go for a day hike up one of the gorgeous mountains surrounding Cajamarca. This past month I begged my friends. No one would go, or they stayed out too late at the disco to get up early, or I canceled because I was sick.
Finally yesterday my walking wish came true. Hugo and I walked up to a laguna about 2 hours straight up from Cajamarca. There were no towns, no traffic, no music. Just some donkeys, wood gatherers, birds and scattered adobe houses spread throughout the countryside. It was lovely to be near an aparently clean lake, especially with my as of late wave of homesick for midwest summer activities. We rested under the bright sun with the peace that only a countryside hike brings.
We returned to Cajamarca with tired legs and happy hearts. I entered work today with the confidence and peace of mastering an enormous mountain only yesterday. Part of my work day consisted of going out with one of our loan recipients this afternoon to visit women interested in our rural health sessions - recruiting the troops for a better turnout this coming Saturday. I walked around with Juana in the countryside to visit women, interview them about their families, kids, and favorite health topics. We stayed close by her house and actually didn't walk that much; which my legs were grateful. We started to finish up at 6:30, because the last public transport minivan/combi leaves at 7pm. I played the waiting, waiting, waiting for the combi game. Juana, her friend and I watched the sunset while we waited and I finally realized that the combi might not come.

Let's start walking...

Juana's friend and I began our countryside hike back to Banos de Inca, a town which most definitely has combi's at night. My legs began to ask me, Why? I had no good answer, except that we couldn't stay out in the countryside waiting for a minivan that might never stop by. After a nice conversation about loans, loan sharks and families with my new friend - and 40 minutes later - we arrived in Banos de Inca, just in time to catch the combi arriving from the countryside from our departing spot.

Walking when you want it is thrilling, filling, and peaceful. Walking for necessity doesn't hold the same emotions. Walking to get to the breathtaking view that awaits ontop of the mountain inspires awe. Walking in order to get back to house is tiring, long, and sometimes painful. I got to experience both within 24 hours. Who knows what walk awaits me tomorrow.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Run around

I just need to vent....AAAAUUUUGGGHHH! I can't believe I spent all morning yesterday going around inviting and convincing women to come to a Business/Money management workshop today only to find out in the last minute this morning that our contracted accountant is home sick. After a morning in the countryside yesterday eating crackers, corn and fried pork with women while talking about how great this business workshop is going to be - I had to spend the same amount of time in the phone booth making calls to tell them not to come. I know people get sick- I was just there so I completely understand - but it is just is so much more difficult in this country to organize, cancel and then reschedule. One more shout for venting purposes...AAAAAAUUUUGGGHHHHH!

Sunday, July 13, 2008

House Call

My health is getting closer and closer to normal. It feels so wonderful to have my body back. I have to share some of my weekend health experiences because they are just so not U.S. like (at least not what I remember). On Saturday I just couldn't handle my throat pain anymore so I ventured out to visit the visiting Medical Mission of U.S. doctors at the local hospital. To my disappointment the U.S. doctors finished their work on Friday, so that was a no go. Since I wasn't going back to the clinic that I went to last time, I decided to visit the Centro Medico Padre Luis Tezza where we worked with our women for health trainings a couple of months ago. The nuns there know how to run the show, treat people with love and respect and although the door was closed because they were getting ready for a special mass - they let me in and got me in with a Doc right away. Special, red carpet treatment. Because of my strep throat I had to receive a shot right smack dab in my bottom. Again, my Doc gave me his personal cell phone number so that his wife could stop by my house today to give me my second shot.

Yesterday after my shot I headed out to my rural health education session with our spectacular new nurse, Yardeni. We had a successful first session two weeks ago, but this time around we had 2 returning participants. 2 out of 8 ain't bad, but it ain't great either. There was a total of 6 women, so we got started, learned about what I was just sick with and had an active afternoon. Although it was a great session, I was still disappointed with our turnout. Yardeni and I have to do some serious brainstorming before our next session about increasing participation.

This morning I woke up feeling lots better and calling my Doc's wife about my follow up medical shot. They said they would be right over. A lovely couple (both Doctors) that have actually worked in the countryside before and understood my frustrations with working with low turnout 'campo' groups and the turn from interested to no-show groups. After my shot, we chatted. The couple not only offered their services for our women's groups, but also invited me to a weekend in their country home at the end of the month, complete with B.day party and bullfighting. I thanked them with a bag of U.S. fruit flavored tea (compliments to mom), which made me feel like I was living in bartering time; a sack of potatoes for health care, coconuts for rice, and in this case tea for a medical shot. Without saying, my mood changed drastically from yesterday's disappointing and frustrating health session experience to hopeful and happy in spirit after my house call. I need to go to Centro Medico more often, visit my Doctor to brainstorm how to improve services with Discover Hope and also increase my social life travel options.

Saturday, July 5, 2008

Despite the circumstances...

It has been a hard week. Not work wise, but health wise. The past two weeks my stomach hasn't been quite right. I went to the doctor (3x in one day) to see the Doc. He thought it was Giardia and "you need to give samples." Well that took more days of uncomfort before I could take some meds. Turns out it isn't Giardia, but another parasite, and my Doc gave me the wrong prescription. So I am on the second dose of meds which seems to be cleaning out something. Funny thing when I called the Doc last night he told me - "come to the clinic and knock on my door on the 3rd floor." I don't get it, it took me forever to get an appointment with him, but after I saw him once he give me his personal cell phone and says, "call anytime." I guess I can't be too mad at getting the wrong meds, since he is at my fingertips. Well as I am trying to purge myself, I started getting another bug. Some kind of chill, cold, fever bug. I hope this isn't a side affect of the meds and will pass quicker than the parasites. It definitely isn't all glamorous here in the Development work world.

Although it was a difficult health week, I was still in the countryside and chatting it up with women groups. I visited the literacy group Jehova and things kinda fall into perspective. One of the grandson of the house had lost 2 of his fingers in a work accident while another family member was taken away by Police because of some car dispute. But the women were still working hard at their literacy class, despite the circumstances. That is what it is all about, despite whatever is out there, as human beings we just got to pick ourselves up and deal, work, live, and love it.