Thursday, September 25, 2008

Financial crisis

So you'll have to understand that I am somewhat in tune with the news in the U.S., but not completely. I have heard the mumbling of a huge financial crisis - economy crashing, assets losing value, banks going under.... I can't say much about what that means and how horrible it may be for Americans. But, I can tell you about a financial crisis that I see everyday with my eyes here in Peru. I spoke with Sebastiana today, she has been a regular at our sewing classes.
"We missed you at sewing class this week."
"I know, I wanted to go but I couldn't. I need to get food for my sheep, help my husband (he just found a new job), and ...well, I just didn't have the 4 soles (about $1) for the co-pay for class."
"Next class. You better be there...and take care of those sheep so that you have some good looking wool this year."

Then there was another conversation I had this week...

I am coordinating our literacy test dates and materials, so once again I find myself at the Ministry of Education (this time I bring my knitting because I know I have to wait at least an hour before I actually talk to someone). As I was waiting (and knitting) I sparked up a conversation with some of the literacy teachers that were also waiting (but not knitting). They had been working for 2 months with promise and promise of a paycheck, yet nothing. They spend loads of money out of their own pocket to pay transport so that they can go out to the countryside and work with their literacy groups. These are teachers, like most Peruvians, that have little to no capital - so the money coming out of their pockets is running pretty low. But, I guess this is nothing compared to the last group of literacy teachers - they worked 6 months without pay. The pay finally came, but that is not the point. Can you imagine working 6 months without pay and being able to live off of who knows what?

I only share these experiences because they go hand in hand with all the amazing experiences I also have here. I don't know what will happen with the U.S. economy or Sebastiana or the literacy teachers. None of us live in a carefree, protected money bubble. Money is a necessity - a source of pain and happiness. We all have our good days, bad days and despair and hope. We face our bad days with the strength and faith that each of us finds somewhere deep inside and our good days is our time to rejoice. And probably what all of us want - no matter where we live - is to be able to spend more of our time rejoicing.

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