March 1, 2005: Headlines: COS - Peru: Blogs - Peru: Safety and Security of Volunteers: Personal Web Site: Peace Corps Volunteer Lindsey in Peru

Peace Corps Online: Directory: Peru: Peace Corps Peru: The Peace Corps in Peru: March 1, 2005: Headlines: COS - Peru: Blogs - Peru: Safety and Security of Volunteers: Personal Web Site: Peace Corps Volunteer Lindsey in Peru

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Peace Corps Volunteer Lindsey in Peru

Peace Corps Volunteer Lindsey in Peru

"I received a disturbing phone call from my Peace Corps boss today. He wanted to know about 8 murders that had taken place in La Esperanza on Sunday."

Peace Corps Volunteer Lindsey in Peru

March 1, 2005

I received a disturbing phone call from my Peace Corps boss today. He wanted to know about 8 murders that had taken place in La Esperanza on Sunday. My site mate lives in La Esperanza, but I hadnít heard anything about any murders. When I got to work in El Milagro, I asked my counterparts about the murders and they said one of them had in fact happened right outside our center at 2:00 pm on Sunday afternoon. That gang members from La Esperanza had come to El Milagro to kill someone from the prison. Supposedly, four innocent people were killed in the violence of the weekend. Many of my kiddies said they had seen the body. They even took me outside to see the blood stains on the road and on the walls. It was pretty scary and it made me worry about my own personal safety. I called Peace Corps with the additional news but they just told me to be on alert, like I could predict when a shoot out was about to begin!

February 28, 2005
Today was my day to catch up on sleep, straighten up a bit, and take Nela to get her vaccinations. I have had a busy last couple of days.

Last Monday, I received an email from the Peace Corps Director saying that there will be a group of American doctors in Trujillo and they needed a translator. Definitely intrigued, I stopped by their hotel (which just happened to be about 5 blocks from my house) on Tuesday and spoke with the man-in-chargeís wife. By Wednesday, I had heard back from them and planned to start an early day with the group on Friday. I arrived at 7:00 am, not sure what to expect, and found 65 people eating a vegan-approved breakfast, readying themselves to board a huge passenger bus. After a few introductions the director of the group told me I would be helping out in the clinic. On the hour bus ride to Casa Grande, I discovered it was not only a medical effort, but a mission group, in conjunction with a construction crew. At the clinic (a public hospital that has long since lost its funding), I was put in charge of organizing the mob waiting to see the doctors and answering general questions. I found that most of the Peruvian people appeared to be in generally good health, but anxious to see the American doctors. In appearance and by local standards many of the people in attendance did not seem to be in poverty. The doctors werenít concerned; they wanted to offer free medical services to everybody in the community regardless of status. There was also a dental clinic and pharmacy.

I was able to volunteer and help a doctor assist a particular old woman of nose cancer. He wants to foot the entire bill for her to see a specialist/plastic surgeon to have the area treated. I told them both I could coordinate her treatment and payment of the services. The little old lady just cried in my arms as she was leaving.

We finished up the day at the clinic and headed to the church construction site. The crew had built a new church and playground for the community. Along the front wall of the only just constructed church flew the Peruvian and American flags. To see the red, white, and blue symbol almost brought tears to my eyes. In a community that needed so much, it made me newly appreciative and so proud for all that I have.

It was quite amazing to see what the construction crew had completed in just 2 weeks. There was already a multitude outside the church and the community members were approaching in groves. We entered the church and were immediately locked in; it was a weird feeling, almost like lab rats on display, as all the townspeople peered in from the metal grates on the windows. The mission group then organized a give-away of toys, toothbrushes, and various supplies. The townspeople filed through the church to collect the gifts in what looked to me in an orderly fashion. Accounts from some of the volunteers outside said it was a lot more chaotic.

The mayor was in attendance and made a speech of thanks for all the volunteers had done. There was also a band and a TV crew. We were served bottled Cokes then sent on our way. The send-off almost felt like we were famous, with waves, screams, kids jumping and moto-taxis running after the bus until we made our way out of town.

When we got back to the hotel, I was invited to dinner and was once again treated to a no meat product meal and I have to admit it was all very tasty. I then had the opportunity to chat more with the members of the group. One of the teenagers said she knew I was a Peace Corps Volunteer when she saw me, that there is a certain look to a volunteer. What is that supposed to mean? I found that most had traveled abroad before and had a consciousness about life in third world countries and in my opinion with their hearts in the right place. I stayed for a worship service and only then discovered it was a Seven Day Adventist Mission group. A little surprised that I knew several of the hymns sung, I was asked if I had anything to contribute. I told the group it had been a wonderful day and I had been so blessed; it was so true. I had so enjoyed getting to know this group from my country, helping others, and worshiping God. I realized quickly that itís not the denomination of the church but the common belief in God that is important.

I really clicked with one of the medical workers, a physician assistant. We exchanged stories of living in Mexico and Latin American life. She was there with her oldest daughter, who would be traveling to Chile from Lima to do a study abroad semester. She was intrigued by my stories of El Milagro and immediately began her own personal campaign to have all the left over medicines and supplies be donated to me and my site.

On Saturday, I hung with some of the women by the hotel pool. It was a great day to just be with people of my own culture and language. Nela was a big hit as well. Later that night, I gave a photo presentation of El Milagro to the entire group and was a little amazed at the complete attention they gave me and the onslaught of questions. After a year of working in El Milagro, I think I have become a bit jaded to the reality of the situation. Extremely stirred, many of them gave money and said to put it toward the community. I ended up with somewhere around 700 soles and the promise of leftover supplies.

I showed up on Sunday morning to the stir of everyone getting ready to leave for Machu Picchu. I couldnít believe the amount of stuff they were giving me! It filled the entire bed of a truck Ė fruit, vegetables, bread, medicine, toothbrushes, clothes and more. One guy even gave me a sack of new, clean towels that he said to keep for myself. It was tearful as I stood on the sidewalk and waved goodbye to the group. In a very short time, I felt I had grown close to several of them and would definitely hate to see them go.

Since YMCA had scheduled a field trip with the families of El Milagro for the afternoon, I was immediately able to give our families the perishable food from the mission group.

When this story was posted in June 2005, this was on the front page of PCOL:

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Story Source: Personal Web Site

This story has been posted in the following forums: : Headlines; COS - Peru; Blogs - Peru; Safety and Security of Volunteers


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