Friday, November 28, 2008

Last Literacy update

Literacy tests: 7 out of the 9 women that took the test last Saturday passed and therefore will receive a certificate in January from the Department of Education stating that they are literate! Yeah for Andrea, Elena, Precila, Casimira, Maria Cruz, Sebastiana and Angelica!!!! Good work to all.

Nora is leaving Cajamarca tomorrow, but left the women with homework. When I return in January for another year we will have our first Buy Day with Maggie. Although women have told me, "you're not coming back.." I respond,"See you at our first event in 2009."

I am leaving Cajamara exhausted, but happy for a success first year of inventions, trial, error and learning experience. I will rest for the month of December and be ready for more come 2009!

Until Then....

Friday, November 21, 2008


I don't know where to start as I share my final thoughts about Discover Hope work that is unofficially finishing today. I don't want to bore you, but there were many computer glitches that made the week eventful and turned yours truly into a spaz. I have actually become more of a spaz in these past couple of months than I have in all my life. It takes a lot of energy to be a spaz and I don't especially enjoy it. Maybe it is cultural differences or huge work load or any number of little things. Yesterday I was on the verge of finishing my 20 page year end report when I realized I accidentally erased Microsoft word from my computer. Why would I do something like this? There is no good answer, because I surely didn't do it for the adventure and thrill to see how long it would take me to replace the program.

After my no-good, very bad morning I had a complete change of heart in the afternoon. A group of some of our loan recipients organized a small surprise little going away party for me in the office. There were speeches, a toast, singing, poems, gifts and let's not forget the food and dancing. I was thrilled that the women I have been working with actually organized themselves enough to pull this off. And, it was so nice to show up and not do a thing. Although I was feeling tired and defeated earlier in the day, the women lifted my spirit and put me in very tranquil state. They showed me that among all the classes and activities that were held this year, there has been a spark of love, caring, and confidence that has grown between all of us. So I leave my Discover Hope work this year exhausted, but proud and extremely happy - with more hope for things to come next year.
Last jewelry class this year with loan recipients from various village banks. The women insisted I be in the middle of all of them. Why? So that they could use my camera memory to develop this picture for me, frame it and present it to me.

P.S. Keep checking back at this blog - as there are still the final literacy exams to report....

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Goodbye lunches

Yes, my time (this year) in Cajamarca is down to it's last days. As of yesterday I had two weeks in Cajamarca left on my calendar. I can hardly believe that a year has passed since I arrived in this beautiful and strange city in the Andes. Kinda like my Peace Corps site back in the day, I feel like Cajamarca has made a mark on me and even the annoying things have become so familiar that I think I will miss this little city come December. But, don't worry, those of you who are reading this in MN or WI, I am so excited to get on the plane on Dec. 6 and spend the month with all of you. I just realize I have come to this comfortable, weird place where I feel like home is not only St.Paul, MN. Home is (I am not trying to be cheesy) where the heart is. And at this point I feel like my heart is all over the place.

I have had a couple goodbye lunches with my women and it has been very humbling. Let me try to paint a picture: I arrive in an adobe kitchen with smoke escaping from the small windows. Women are gathered around clay pots cooking on the floor. I sit at the table alone catching up on the updates of animals, weaving projects and sick kids. I receive a heaping plate of rice and chicken while the women hurry to serve all the little brown faces that come running into the kitchen. We must have been 20 people in that smoky kitchen. If I don't finish my food they will place the plate of left-over food over my poor little head (a well-known custom in the countryside). I finish. There is no room for a sweet, warm cup of arroz con leche, but I make room anyway. We continue to chat, there is some yelling, kids asking for more, a little piggy that runs into the kitchen. It is a happy chaos, feeling like I have been invited to participate in an ordinary family event, that to me feels so very un-ordinary. It felt like the most special moment I could have experienced right then and there in an old, dirt house with a group of women that are united by family ties, but also the desire to better themselves. This group that lives in the most humble conditions presented me with a small gift before our lunch came to an end. Like I said, my heart is all over the place - excited for my reunion with family and friends in the midwest and also touched by the grace and gratefulness of my women's groups here in Cajamarca.

Sunday, November 9, 2008


Yes, yours truely is a Madrina. What is a Madrina you ask? The woman that holds a candle and touches the child's shoulder during her baptism and then buys 50 guinea pig for the feast afterwards. Roughly translated = Godmother. Aida, one of our loan recipients in an active village bank asked me to be the Madrina for her middle child, Catalin Stephanie, a couple of weeks ago. At first I was a little hesitant about the great task, but after some deep thought and conversation with Aida I came to the conclusion that it is a honor and job I am up for. Aida and her village bank (many who are family also) have been very supported of me and DHF work and this is an amazing way for me to remain connected to them. Never in the states could I become a Godmother to a person I was working with - conflict of interest. But I am not in the states. In Peru my life is work and work is my life, boundaries that we create in the U.S. do not exist in the same form here. So yesterday I entered more deeply into the life of a Peruvian family that had already entered into mine.
As a Peruvian Madrina one of your most important tasks is to buy cuys (guinea pigs ) for the celebration feast. I told Aida I would help out with the dinner costs, but wasn't especially excited about buying 50 guinea pigs. No problem, we had steak. But, I did complete my other task as a Madrina - I danced to typical "wino" countryside music all night with just about every guest. I left the night with tired feet and a happy heart. Not only was the celebration good old Peruvian fun, but Aida had made all the appetizers and the cake with the recipes from the classes she took with DHF. I got to eat the fruits of DHF labor...and it was delicious!