05 June 2008

All good things come to an end I suppose

This will be my last blog entry as my time here in Trujillo is finally coming to an end. I have been here for 5 months and it has been a truly amazing experience. Initially I was suppose to be here for 3 months but I extended the stay when I realised just how much I was enjoying it and how much good work there was to be done. I am a sad to be leaving because I am going to miss the kids of Porvenir a lot, but that’s life I suppose.

I am looking forward to seeing my family and meeting up with my friends again. I really can’t wait to get good pint of Harp (Irish beer) as the beer out here isn’t the same. I don’t have too much time at home as I am going to Kenya on the 23rd of June. I am going to work in an orphanage north of Nairobi.

Since it was the last week, Robert and I decided to have a special class with the kids. This week we brought in music and a guitar to the classrooms and played various types of music to the kids. We played rock ‘n’ roll, metal, classical, dance etc...we would then get the kids to write whether they like it, loved it, really like it, hated it or didn’t like it. The kids loved this lesson. Then after this, we all sang John Denver’s ‘Leaving on a Jet plane’ but in Spanish on the guitar. We felt it was appropriate as we are leaving. The kids really enjoyed this.

Last weekend I went to a little town in the Andes called Otusco with my girlfriend Mayra. This was only a day trip. It normally takes a 2 hour bus journey on a treacherous road. However, the bus broke down and then we hitch-hiked on the back of a truck all the way to Otusco, us and about 12 other people! Here is the bus after it broke down:

The weekend before that, the volunteers and I went camping in a nearby town called Poroto. This was very relaxing and was in the middle of a beautiful mountain range in the Andes.

I leave on Sunday night. It takes nearly 3 days to get home considering everything. It is going to be very strange not going to Porvenir on Monday morning.

I would like to say it has been a pleasure working for SKIP and would recommend it to any potential volunteers. I have really enjoyed working with Robert. I have a feeling we will talk about Porvenir for many years to come. All the volunteers have been fantastic but a special mention must go to our director Bee. She does incredible work here and having lived with her, I can appreciate how dedicated she is to the cause.

Finally, I want to mention to kids of Porvenir not just with SKIP but with Indoamericano and Lizarzaburu. They have been by far the best part of my time here in Peru. I just hope that by me being a part of their lives for just a small time has made has made a positive impact on them.

If any potential volunteers have any queries, feel free to contact me m1572202@qub.ac.uk

For the last time, adios

Prof Jose Antonio

19 May 2008

Hello Teacher, My Friend Forever

Friday afternoon is without question my favorite time of the week to be working over at the SKIP office. Happy kids, finished with the week's work, come by to get a jump on their weekend homework, to get tutored in English, or to learn new hobbies like guitar or even chess.

Robert (whose mane is pictured here, a volunteer from Manchester, England) and I tried to introduce the royal games this past week, with fairly positive results.

Here is Robert working with Jhony, who is looking quite pleased with his position. I taught him a few things, and he seemed to take to the game very quickly.

You had to be careful when playing this little dude, however. As soon as it became impossible to legally capture an opponent's piece, he'd try pretty much any move on the board, no matter how implausible, so long as it ended with the other guy's piece in his hand.

Jhony, I know your hunger!

In this picture, Gersen works through English sentences with Joseph, a volunteer from Northern Ireland.

As far as kids go, this Gersen is razor sharp! Loves studying English, loves school, very sweet and motivated kid.

I once tried to help him with some math homework, and he practically laughed at me for suggesting he deign to show his arithmetic.

While other kids are struggling to enunciate the alphabet, Gersen is dropping sophisticated phrases.

"Hello Teacher, my friend forever. My name is Gersen. I am from Peru. I am ten years old. I love school."

-Ari Olmos

18 May 2008

Trip to Iquitos

I have quite a lot to report since the last update. I and 3 other volunteers made a trip to a city called Iquitos in the Amazon jungle. It was quite a journey getting there. First it took 24hours on a bus from Trujillo to a place called Tarapoto. This was followed by a 4 hour car journey to a place called Urimaguas on a treacherous road at night.

We stayed a night in Urimaguas and then got the boat to Iquitos. This was a 3 day boat trip. There wasn’t much to do on the boat except play poker and listen to music. The food on the boat was really good. You actually had to buy a hamac for the boat to sleep on which was cool. Here is mine:

We then arrived in Iquitos and we were met by an ex-SKIP volunteer called Felipe. He helped us out a lot and got us sorted with a place to stay.

When we in Iquitos we made a trip to the Amazon. We spent 3 days there and took many excursions. We saw many cool animals including monkeys, snakes and many beautiful birds. Hera re a few photos of us trekking and canoeing:

Our first night in Iquitos we tried Ayahuashca. It is a drink made from special plants from the Amazon and is a strong hallucinogenic. It was the most incredible night of my life. I never thought experiences like that existed. We did it under the supervision of an experienced Shaman and with Felipe there. It really is an experience that words could not do justice to.

We also visited a butterfly farm in Iquitos. That doesn’t sound exciting but actually turned out to be really interesting. There they had many other cool animals. They had an anteater and a jaguar. Jaguars are a really impressive animal. Here is a photo of the entrance to the farm. The owner has a monkey wrapped around her head:
After Iquitos, we flew to Lima. We spent one day there and then got the night bus back to Trujillo. The entire trip took 13 days and was really worth it.

I don’t think I will do anymore travelling when I am here in Peru. I think I will be the only person to come to Peru for 5 months and not visit Cusco and not do the Inca Trail. Apparently it is really expensive and to be honest I am not that intrigued by it. I intend to return to Peru in the future so maybe I will do it then.

I have 3 more weeks of teaching to do. The week before I left for Iquitos we taught the kids about there favourite animals. This week we are going to teach them about the family. I had my inter-cambio this week again with Tatiana. My Spanish has reached a low plateau! I don’t have as much time as I use to learn and feel I am not progressing as much as I would like to.

When I was in Iquitos I took one day to organise what I am going to do after Peru. I am going to work in an orphanage in Kenya with a friend of mine. It will only be for about 2 months as I have a job in England to start in September.

That’s about it for this update. As always, any questions let me know. My email is m1572202@qub.ac.uk



27 April 2008


A few things to report since April the 9th.

I have begun to teach English to just the SKIP secondary kids on a Saturday morning in Indoamericano. This is a lot more stress free as these kids are a lot more co-operative and enthusiastic to learn. This is just for one hour.

There a few trainee teachers that volunteer for SKIP on a Saturday morning. In return SKIP offer support with their English. I was supposed to have a class this Thursday but it didn’t happen. Another class is scheduled for this Thursday so we'll see what happens.

I am not sure if I have mentioned that from the money I raised prior to coming to Peru, I gave SKIP a substantial amout which went ot buying shoes and school uniforms. Here are a few photos of the material being distributed:

We have taught the kids how to describe their country and other countries. Last week we taught then how to say what food they liked. They particularly enjoyed this lesson as Peruvians can be quite passionate about their food. Here is a photo of the kids taking the exam we gave them a few weeks ago:

It was my birthday last Sunday. I turned 24. Birthdays are a big deal in Peru; they are keen to acknowledge them.

Last week, I and 3 other volunteers went to Lima. I got my flight ticket reissued. It was a good trip. It was just relaxing to not be teaching for a change and to see another part of Peru. I have been in Peru over 3 and half months now. Here are a few photos from Lima.

Classes with the SKIP kids on a Friday afternoon are going good. It gives the kids an opportunity to get help with their homework. After the lesson, I take the kids for football.

My inter-cambio started back up this week with my teacher Tatiana. We had two sessions this week and i feel they make a difference. I hope to take an A-level in Spanish when I return home.
Possibly at the end of this week, I and some volunteers will be going to a place called Iquitos. It takes 3 days to get there by boat up a river. I hope we get to go as I am leaving Peru in 6 weeks and feel I haven’t saw much. It will be interesting to see the Amazon Jungle.

Not much else to report. As always, any questions send me an e-mail at m1572202@qub.ac.uk

09 April 2008


A few things have happen since the last update.

Robert and I have given all the primary kids an English test. It was basically everything they have learnt since the start of the school year. It was a little unusual for the kids as they had never experience an exam style atmosphere. We didn’t put to much emphasis on the result but we were keen to highlight the need to practice English at home and the importance of homework. Schools in Peru do not have the same kind of discipline when it comes to homework as in the UK for example.

As for the actual results, a lot of the kids were able to recall the english but their spelling was poor. We are not too concerned about that for the moment as long as the kids can speak. Here are some of the kids of lizarzaburu in the library where Rober and I teach:
Robert and I have certainly settled into a routine with the teaching. At first it was difficult because schools are so badly organized and run that it was difficult to have classes starting on time and being able to control the classes. We have gotten the teachers staying in the classrooms and maintaining discipline while we actually teach. We will gradually involve the teacher into the lesson through time. This is the idea as it will be a lot more sustainable for the future.

We have come up with quite a few ideas to improve the lessons. We really want to instill a desire into the kids to learn English. We want them to enjoy learning English. We are going to incorporate cultural learning into the lessons. This week we taught the kids how to say where they were from. We also taught where other countries were from and told them a little bit about them. For example, we took in pictures of London, Ireland, Africa, Rio de Janeiro and the US. The kids enjoyed this. Here is a picture of 6C at Lizarzaburu, they are an excellent class:

Last Saturday I used the money raised to buy SKIP a new computer. They were using almost 10 year old laptops which were very temperamental. We got a new desktop with a printer. Hopefully now, life will be easier for the directors and workers for SKIP. Our director Bee was really happy. Having seen how much they needed the new computer, I think it was money well spent. Here is the new computer:

I also replace my camera. The money used to pay for this can be reclaimed back on my travel insurance. I will do this when I return home and then give the money to SKIP. You will notice a lot more photographs in this update!

I am going to Lima next week to renew my visa and to revalidate my plane ticket. The nearest STA Travel branch is in Lima. I will be gone for 3 days and I am really looking forward to it.

The SKIP house has really begun to fill up. We now have around 8 volunteers, from all different countries, in the house.

I am still learning Spanish. It is a little more difficult as I have a lot less time now. The inter cambio starts back up next week as my inter cambio buddy was away this week.

Well that is about it. As always, for any potential volunteers if you have any questions or queries, feel free to contact me m1572202@qub.ac.uk

Adios for now


28 March 2008


It is now the end of the 4th week of term here in Peru and everyone has well and truly settled back into school routine.

I have still been teaching in the two schools; Indoamericano and Lizarzaburu. Things have not been running smoothly as one would hope. Peruvian schools do not function as well as they do western world schools. Teachers often arrive late to school and sometimes not at all. It is common to find classrooms without a teacher. My colleague Robert and I are finding it difficult sometimes to work with the schools as they are not co-operating as well as they should be considering we are volunteers. Even with their lack of co-operation and enthusiasm, Robert and I are still determined to teach the children as they should not suffer because of this.

As well as teaching in these two schools, I have plans to start back up football games and english classes just for the SKIP kids on Friday afternoons and maybe Saturday mornings. Something similar as to what i was doing during the summer camp. I would like to cover whatever english the kids have been learning during the week again as there is no routine of homework here in Peru.

My spanish is continually improving but not as fast as I would like, however, my friends here say to me that I am improving fast. I have started an inter-cambio which is basically a one-on-one tutoring sessions. This is free and is with a qualified spanish teacher. It is free because for the first hour she teaches me spanish and for the second hour I help her with her english. I feel I am certainly getting more out of it than her!

Volunteers are beginning to arrive. A guy from San Diego and a girl from Sydney have just arrived. The weather has took a downturn which is for the best. The days are a lot cooler but are still warm though. Being from Ireland, I have welcomed the new weather.

Well that is all for now. I posted home 3 copies of a 10 page report on my time here. It details where the money I raised has gone to and what I am doing here exactly. One copy has gone to the St. Vincente de Paul group of Maghera in Northern Ireland who kindly gave me £500. Another copy has gone to the Third World Shop in Maghera in Northern Ireland who kindly gave £1000. The final copy will stay in my home where visitors dropping by can read and find out what I am doing. It contains a lot of pictures so it should be a good read.

Apologies for there being no pictures, I still haven't repaced my camera.

As always, any potential volunteers, feel free to contact me with any queries or questions, I will be glad to help. My e-mail is m1572202@qub.ac.uk

Buena suerte


11 March 2008

School Term Begins

The school term has eventually begun here in Peru. It was suppose to begn last week but nothing ever runs on time out here. Myself and another volunteer, Robert from Manchester, are teaching in two schools.

One school is called Indoamericano where we have approximately 90 SKIP kids and the other school is called Lizarzaburu where we have only 20 Kids approximately.

Our schedule is fairly demanding. Our first class is at 7.30am until 9.00am in Lizarzaburu. We are teaching English by ourselves to the 6th grade of Primary school. Our next class is from 10.30am to 12.30pm in Indoamericano. We then support the English teachers who teach 1st grade of Secondary school in both schools. These schedules have not been finalised yet but will last until around 6.30pm.

Last week was pretty sporadic. We had arranged a lot of meetings with the schools in order to organise schedules but meetings in Peru rarely happen and even rarer on time. This is very frustrating. Anyway at the moment, we have a fairly rigid schedule and I know what I will be doing for the remainderof my time.

I was suppose to return to Ireland on April the 8th but I have changed my ticket to June the 10th. I felt 3 months was not long enough here. I would have prefered to stay until July but my ticket didnt allow me. I will stay for a total of 5 months.

Of the money I raised before coming out here, I have given SKIP £1329 so far. I have given £610 through the CAF account available on the SKIP website. This has the extra huge advantage of claiming 28% extra known as Gift Aid. The rest I have handed over as cash in Soles (S.4100 = £719) for schools uniforms, shoes and materials such as books and pens.

Lat weekend I went to a traditional Peruvian event known as a Poyada. It is a fundraising event where friends and neighbours attend and buy chicken and beer. The proceeds then go to the cause whatever it may be. This particular one was where a Peruvian girl needed money raised for her child for some reason. Didnt find out exactly.

Bit of bad news also. Got my digital camera stolen about a weel ago. I had some real good photos on it. I will just have to borrow Roberts camera. I should be able to claim the camera back on my insurance.

Here is photo of our director Bee signing the new contact with the Lizarzaburu school:

Here is my first day teaching in Lizarzaburu:

Well that is all for now. As always, any potential volunteers want any information or have any queries, let me know and I will be glad to help. My e-mail is m1572202@qub.ac.uk



05 March 2008


The Candoshi is one of the last indigenous tribes who conserve themselves almost intact in the middle of one of the most beautiful forests and less touched by the civilization in the planet. They are close of the Peru-Ecuador border. To arrive there, it is necessary to sail by different rivers approximately 6 days, is necessary to furrow one of the most dangerous rivers of the Peruvian forest, the Pastaza river, is necessary to cross one of the most great and beautiful lakes of Peru, the Rimachi lake, and is necessary to have, in addition to much value, some arms for protection because the Candoshi people has become one of the most violent tribes of the Peruvian forest.

Although by the survival of the tribe they have had to fight continuous battles with near tribes and although the violence of their race it is in their genes - the Jìvaros tribe, famous for to reduce the heads of their enemies, it is come from the same sanguineous trunk - the Candoshi was pacific. The history of its last 90 years is the reason of its violence. According to official information, in the last 10 years, more than 200 "civilized" people have died or disappeared in Candoshi territory and although it exists conversations with the government on the matter, still it exists violent confrontations with "civilized" people who are found fishing, hunting or cutting trees in their territory.

When we speak about the Candoshi, like of any other indigenous tribe or old civilization, we must remember that although they do not have the education that "civilized" people have, the antiquity of their culture and their cultural identity anyway confers an education different from ours but it is education. This without touching the most important point: that they are people like us. The few that we have had a permission of their autorities, but mainly, sufficient value to enter its territory, with the simple observation we have been able to notice that the education does not depend exclusively on wonderful advances technological or massive mass media, it is may depend of a millenarian system of moral principles - principles that we took innate each one of us and that have been, in the best one of case distorted them by our individual and collective circumstances. When living in the nature they are same nature, of thousand years living in comunión with the forests have taught the importance to them of the balance in the consumption of the resources, have taught to them to cause the regeneration of the consumed thing. To put an example, in the lakes that are within their territory, the Candoshi seeds and raises one of the most exotic fish and on the way to extinction of the amazonian forest, the Paiche. Its growth is so slow and difficult, and its meat so is appraised that they have rationed their fishing to an adult unit by family to the year, (an adult unit gets to measure up to 3 meters).

It is sad but more and more "civilized" people get in the nights at her lakes to fishing their Paiches (in the city it is can get to cost up to us $20 the kilogram). This is one of the reasons of their aggressiveness. They simply defend what it is belongs to them, they defend what will be the sustenance of its family.
Nevertheless, the original reason of their violence is a little older, is a little sadder, is a little more shameful.

Everything began approximately about 50 or 60 years ago, when the first missionaries (catholic, evangelical... that does not important matter) arrived at their territory. The history that has left great scars us, although with slight variations, is even repeated today and as it happened in the past the imposition of a new belief implies the eradication of the previous one and therefore the lost one of cultural identity. Like all the great mechanisms of domination, the change does not happen immediately, the work is systematic. In this case, the main axis consists of the obtaining of the confidence of the community, easy to obtain through the magical mechanisms that we have and that they never have seen. A simple electrical lamp, a mirror, a radius to battery, caramels, our way to dress, our own customs and until our language are wonderful things for them.
Unlike the past in which the salvation speech was tax through the massacre and the extermination - impossible to make in the present time due to international the public opinion (thanks to God for this) - the following step is the disrepute of the old traditions. It was that soon the medic of the Tribe, the one who through the sacred plants or the stars said to the correct time for seedtime, the fishing, for the love or the war, was represented like the representative of the devil, the same demon. Just a short time later, whenever a boy became ill, whenever a old people died, whenever the unpredictable course of the river took a cultive, was the Chaman that was sight with distrust, with rage and anger.

Soon, hated by their own brothers, by their own children, as if they was criminals, hated by people to who they cured, 8 families of chamanes with parents, children and grandsons, preferred a new life in the solitude from the forest to the pain of to see hatred in the eyes of their brothers. As if a masterful plan existed, as if everything had been calculated, the climax of the events, the fact that marked the outcome of history, it happened a day in which one of the missionaries arrived at the tribe with influenza. Just a short time later, 80% of children, old people died - they do not have defenses against ours "civilized" diseases.
One night, left to their luck by who took the death to their forests, fled with the weight in the conscience. One night in which the sadness broke the soul of the tribe, with the alcohol burning their noble hearts, the surviving men, armed with arrows, lances, stones and woods, they exterminated to the 8 families of chamanes. 8 complete families, old people and young people, wimen and man with all their things were massacreed and burned in the dark of the night and with them all the knowledge of thousand of years transmitted of generation to generation.
The tribe was lost of many years - they was confused. The missionaries who knew the truth of the things did not return. There was no the wise person who cured the snakes attacks. The time of sowing, the fishing time, the war time or the peace time, was unknown because nobody could read stars or listen to the sacred plants.
Nobody knows when they understood the mistaken, nobody knows as they discovered the truth, the pain and the confusion showed them the truth of the magical things of "civilized" people and later, as it happens in all conquest, the vultures, the plunderers those who live of the misfortune and the death arrived to take, their fish, their animals, their trees. But the Candoshi tribe, brothers of the jíbaros tribes - the hunters of human heads, brothers of the of the Achuar tribes, the soldiers of the water, they transformed their pain into fury, they painted of black colour their faces and they declared the war to the "civilized" people.

From "Travel´s Chronicles" - 2001- FGP

At the present time, some special children of the Candoshi tribe, are studding the knowledge of the plants and the stars with Chamans of neighboring tribes.
At the present time, although it exists pacts of peace with the Peruvian government, it is impossible to go into the Candoshi territory without a special permission of their authorities. The police in the Candoshi tribe does not exist, all law it is distributed by the political authority of the community - the Apu. The government, with the help of the international community has signed a treaty for the construction of the first small schools and first aid posts in strategic places like part of the campaign of "civilization" of indigenous communities.
The personages of this history are fiction. All similarity to the reality is pure coincidence.


16 February 2008

I thought i would update this blog, its been a month since i last posted anything. Things are still going great. The summer programmer is into its penultimate week. Construction has actually begun on the SKIP center so a newly developed center is on its way.

I am still teaching english from monday to wednesday. I can actually see an improvement in some of the kids which is fantastic. They often come up to me and chat as much english to me as they can, its funny. Football still continues on Thursdays and Fridays.

The weather in trujillo is getting a lot warmer, at around 3 especially its tough.

I have started taking surfing lessons in the world famous beach near trujillo called huanchaco. Surfing is amazing and here its really cheap. SKIP volunteers get a reduced rate just for being SKIP volunteers from one particular surf shop.

I am still continuing with my free Spanish lessons. I not sure if i am improving as much I would like but its certainly enjoyable anyway. My peruvian classmates are really nice and helpful.
Cant think of much more to add. Going to add some photos also:
Here is the summer programs painting class:
Here are the future footballers of peru (except me!!)
Here are some of my students listening attentively!!

Some of our kids outside our center in porvenir

What do you think of my teaching of the human body????

Some of my kids working hard improving their vocabulary
Thats all for the moment.
P.S. I did a lot of fundraising before I came to SKIP and managed to raise a substantial amount. If any potential volunteers needs ideas, feel free to contact me on m1572202@qub.ac.uk

22 January 2008

Here are a few photos I have managed to take. The first one is me and a few of the kids. I use the map of the world to teach "where is" to the kids. The second shows the kids working hard. On the walls is some teaching aids I put up, such as the alphabet and the numbers in English. The second shows two SKIP kids outside the center with the badge.

Joseph the Irish volunteer


My name is Joseph and Iam from Ireland. I arrived in Trujillo on Thursday 10th January to begin volunteering for SKIP. I actually began on the Monday as I spent a few days with friends in a place called Huaraz.

I have been teaching English to approximately 30 kids but not all at the one time. Its part of SKIPs summer program. On Monday and Tuesday I teach 7-10 year olds and on Wednesday 10-12 year olds. Thursday and Fridays I take about 20 boys for football in a football court beside the SKIP center in Porvenir.

I didnt know what to expect when I arrived although my friend had already volunteered and told me a lot about it already. The SKIP house where the volunteers stay is in Trujillo. The house is excellent I feel as I was expecting very basic accomodation. Porvenir is approximately a 5-10minute taxi ride from the house. Porvenir itself is very poor. The people have very little and houses are pretty dire, well thats from a western point of view.

Having said that, the people seem happy, well the kids do anyway. The kids arrive to the SKIP center smiling all the time and they greet you as if you were a celebrity, it certainly helps your self esteem!

Teaching them is amazingly rewarding because they are so keen to learn. They would often say "mas ingles" (more english) at the end of a lesson which is nice.

Trujillo itself is a nice city. It has a lovely city center and has plenty of places to eat. Next to the SKIP house is a restaurant which does delicious chicken, rice and chips!

The summer camp will be continuing for another six weeks before we the volunteers will go to the state schools to teach English. The SKIP kids get a reduced rate because a volunteer is teaching in that school I think.

I will be updating this blog regularly and if any potential volunteers have any queries, you can e-mail me at m1572202@qub.ac.uk I will be happy to help.



18 October 2007

computer class

so some of the highlights of each week are the computer classes i get to teach to the secondary kids. we officialy got the class kicked off in march of this year and for the most part it has been a success. we havent moved all that fast in regards to covering a bunch of different programs but it has been thorough, kind of.
that last thought brings me to today. so there is two classes of computers on thursdays, one for the kids who have mornings free and the other for the kids who have afternoons free. generally speaking i have an incredibile sense of accomplisment every thursday morning when i see the kids working away on their computer home work, the most i usually have to do is remind them to not open messenger (they always are looking for former SKIP english teachers to talk with) and that they can listen to music after they have finished there work.
so the afternoon class brings about a host of other feelings, mixed feelings actually. for instance, today we were finishing up a test - generally speaking a test is something you do by yourself to TeSt your own knowledge, hence the word TeSt. i think that some of our students have an intense commitment to one anthers well being and good grades though because at some point i ceased to exist in the classroom and one of our little darlings got up and started giving pointers to two of the other kids - and all free of charge. so the mixed feeling came up in a few diferent ways.
first, how in the world did i do such a bad job of teaching that these two kids cant complete this part of the test - i am awful at this teaching gig.
second - wow, that kid is instructing two others at the same time and is doing a dang fine job at it (even though technically it was cheating) - she must have had an amazing teacher.

to satisfy the curiosity of you former Skippers, the ever so helpful student would be the freckled one that asks all the questions.

02 October 2007

Pictures from the Artisanal Fair

Huanchaco Beach and the volunteer dance group that performed at the artisanal fair.

Huanchaco, Huanchaco, Huanchaco!

"Huanchaco!!" bellowed the cobrador of the "H con corazon" micro as we climbed aboard the bus on Sunday. We were headed to Huanchaco beach, about 20 minutes from the SKIP house in Trujillo, to work/hang out at the artisanal fair set up by Mythri, our reigning queen of Economic Development volunteers. She had organized this fair as her ultimate project, before jetting back to the US on Monday.

SKIP had a tent set up where we sold scarves and purses knitted by the SKIP mothers in El Porvenir, along with free food- a big big hit. There was music, balloons, flyers and even a march with posters and banners advocating womens rights and feminine power. A local dance school provided a volunteer dance group who drew a large crowd with their traditional dances.

The weather even cooperated, as the sun shown breifly, but brightly.

The mothers were most excited to see their work actually being sold to strangers, for some it was their first time to Huanchaco even, and I could see the pride on their faces as scarf after scarf was picked up. Overall, we sold over 200 soles of merchandise, and gathered 50 soles in donations. More importantly, we handed out countless flyers to draw attention to SKIP and its motives.

Looking to the future, two stores in Huanchaco have now agreed to sell some the mothers' work, as the quality and technical skill has improved tremendously over the 9 months of Mythri's rule. A potential collaboration between the Huanchaco Club de Madres and the Madres de SKIP is on the horizon- the mothers would get together to teach each other new knitting techniques and other skills. SKIP has also started hosting knitting and jewellery making classes, and we hope to find stores in downtown Trujillo willing to sell some of the mothers' wares. Overall, nothing makes me smile more than to see the mothers collaborating on taking loans to buy the wool and working together on design ideas or helping each other with difficult stitches.


26 September 2007


One of the problems to those that faces our society at the present time, although in smaller quantity that more cosmopolitan and liberaler societies, it is the growing decrease of the affective work.
Understood the affective work as the valuable and invaluable work that implies the care, the attention and the delivery of affection to children, people of the third age and sick inside the family. Until recently, work made it and covered in more percentage for the feminine sector inside the family and the same society.

We can attribute the blame of the decrease of the affective work basically to the congenital dissatisfaction of the human species. Dissatisfaction that has led inexorably to the current reign of the materialism and the consumerism and for this way to the vertiginous career of satisfaction of a more and more growing universe of necessities. Same dissatisfaction that has made us undertake the search of ideologies with the desire of to organize and to endow of a clear horizon our more and more chaotic society. Sometimes forgetting that for the same fact of this congenitally dissatisfaction, our theories, our ideologies, more and more tendentious to the utopism, they are born condemned.
It would be unjust, however, to deny to the human species the same right to the experimentation. But we should never forget that the experimentation bears risks that in the best in the cases, our system has taken very little in our bill society.
A clear example is in fact the topic that now occupies us, almost invisible and less valuable at this time but with big repercussions to medium and long term.
We cannot make ourselves those of the fat view and to deny that the nucleus of our society, the family, it is suffering irreparable damages to the point of running the risk of a definitive separation. Fact that is clearly demonstrated mainly in the high index of divorces and the populational descent in western societies or going to the weesternization.

This is it that in fact at that the big ideological movements of political order as the socialism, the communism, the capitalism and the same feminism didn't foresee, movements born of conceptual theories that seek to contain and to homogenize an individual and heterogeneous collective where the really important differences, (as the virtues and defects), they are, completely, passed for high. Differences that are, exactly, those that grant defined the position to each individual of a society. They have endowed us of one idealized and ephemeral freedom that it has allowed to break up with certain and preset lists, unchaining a widespread chaos with disastrous consequences to medium and I release term.
Without forgetting that it was the Catholic doctrine the culprit of the centuries of darkness regarding the woman's rights, we should return the look on the shoulders and to observe to the old civilizations (as the Egyptian in east or the Catarian in occident) where the women and the femininity had a fundamental list in the society.
It would be absurd, for example, not to recognize that, so much physical as spiritually, men and women are born differentiated. It would be absurd not to recognize that each one is born with tendencies and defined lists, replaced in some cases but never completely. It is not a fotuituos thing that is the woman the one that has been blessed with the gift of the conception. It is not a fortuitous thing that has been the woman the main one not in charge of the affective work alone inside the family, but also in our same society.
It is certain that a special relationship exists between femininity and affection. Observing for one second some other animal species because after all we are, also, animals, could we hope a male fulfills the maternal function just as at would make it a female of the species?
Grateful the fundamental importance of the affective work for the subsistence of the family as the nucleus of our society and its considerable decrease, would be necessary to wonder: Are we prepared to replace a growing market of affective work?
Today, as the labor freedom for the feminine sector has grown, we face a drastic decrease of the affective work and that, what is more dangerous, this will be inside in a little time one of the biggest lacks in our society. It would be more simple if this work it could be managed with the laws that govern the current labor market. That makes of the affective work something difficult of manage - the intrinsic value that this supposes why it implies an interaction that is much more than the physical aspect. It is very difficult, due to the grade in that an affective worker is forced to be involved with the object of his care, much more if this work is carried out inside its same family, for this it is very difficult to implant a control that can settle down standard of quality, (we should realise that this quality will vary substantially if the work is carried outside of the family environment), fact that makes impossible the handling of this sector with the rules that govern to the rest of the labor market.
Another important factor is the depreciation of the affective work. It is undeniable that the works that imply the service and people's care directly, it is still in the lowest steps in the labor pyramid, so much in what refers at the salary like in what refers to social prestige.
Through the history, the importance of the affective work, it has always been observed from points of view different to the really important one. To mention an example, in the Rumania previous to the ninety, the one that was the last communist bastion in Europe, the affective work was seen as an important factor although not for the real value that implied the care and the union of the family. It existed, even, a reconciliation system for the families that wanted to get divorced, wants that, finally, it was granted them after draining in different instances, all the possibilities of a reconciliation. However, "(…) the political system was not really interested in the health and the well-being of the family. The only thing that wanted was the individual's control. A control exercised through the fear, through the mistrust, impairing the channel of the trust inside the family and the friends through the totalitarist speech of subjection to the ideological régime. Ingrained speech with such an effectiveness to each person, mainly to the youngest that it was frequent to see friends and even children denouncing co-workers, school teachers or parents for anticommunist comments. (…) This was the grade of importance of the family nucleus with it was considered for the régime that in cases of accusations for the style, without caring of where they came and without mediating trial some, "Securetatea", the intelligence system and the interior politics's armed arm that Ceausescu implanted for such an end, disarticulated the family in question of hours, sending the children to orphanages and the parents to lingering imprisonments." (I summarize of interview with Andrei Ciobutaro, outstanding artist and Romanian thinker liberate.)
It is undeniable that the capitalism also founded its pillars in the family nucleus, but mainly in the affective work made, even at the present time, by the feminine sector, on the main function, the administration of the home and the fabric of the cooperation nets and solidarity, base of the patriarchal institution. This without speaking about the main function: the reproduction of the human species, or rather, the producer of the biggest value in the capitalism, the manpower.
In our days, the affective work, (although in different scale and level that the one carried out in the family nucleus), so scarce and minimized lately, it is beyond the family environment. The globalization, the saturation of the markets, the politics of limitless consumerism and the levels of competition of the modern companies, it have forced to the search of new techniques and technologies that are able to increase the redeeming and the time of answer to markets more and more difficult of satisfying and specialized. In such a way, it is not a secret that the fixed capital, the goods properties or the machinery, it is not more the biggest for the modern companies. What is really important is the human structure, the grade in that the personnel is involved with the objectives of the company, the way in that they socialize among themselves until getting the ideal comfort in the work atmosphere that allows them to develop to the maximum his invention capacity, of search of solutions for the changes of the market "just in time" and finally the organizational and re-organizational capacity. It is in this environment where the affective work acquires an enormous and new dimension: the complicated fabric of an affective net of communication, among a heterogeneous group of individuals with the purpose of improving the productivity.
It suits, observed and grateful the undeniable importance and the necessity of the affective work, to foresee their future lack. We would not need to be geniuses or seers to glimpse a future in which the affective work is one of the most important professions and required by our society in its different levels.
We need however, first, to recognize the essential value of this work. We need to change the false conception of smaller quantity that our society have granted him. Maybe this it is the biggest obstacle that we have to conquer. For such an effect it is of vital importance, in the first place that glimpse that this goes a lot beyond the dispute between machismo and feminism. In second place that the same state, through the educational sector, it should be involved with the preventive task, through the integration to the educational curricula, of courses in those that the student, not alone it learns and recognize the importance of the affective work in our society, but rather it also teaches to the new generations, be men or women, for to be prepared to replace in this function at family level in first time.


18 September 2007


The night falls and it dawns another time in the forest. The time seems detained here, beside the Ucayali river in a town a day from Iquitos. The first school that I came to build is almost finishedand we have begun a new one not far from here.
Some months have passed since I began to work here and I have not still stopped to wonder if we are right in sowing cement where before alone there were trees and animals, but that is a big and different topic from what I want to relate.
What I want to relate is that the earth here has another color, the heat is so strong that sometimes one wonders why we are here. That the forest sometimes squashes us with its constant sample of life. That the insects are unbearable alone between the 6 and 7.30 in the night.
What i want to relate is that the children still go barefoot to the old wooden school. That they still play in the torrential rains as if these were a blessing, that an indescribable innocence exists in their eyes. That innocence that we have lost in the big cities. That trying not to get their attention - always impossible - I observe them every morning wondering to myself if some of them imagine thatother world of which we come. but the probable thing is that it does not even interest them although some of them will finish working driving a taxi for the streets of some great city.
15 men have come with me to build this first school. 15 men that make their work very well between laughs and jokes. 15 both young and old people that have become as siblings after a time. But only 14 have returned. One of them, my friend Henrry, the nearest to me, the one that followed me in range, one that the same as to my he liked the fishing, he died while he was transported to our camp bitten by a snake. Him and four more of them went to cut the wood that we needed for the construction in a place amid the forest 8 hours from our camp. One week they had to finish their work and to return with the wood, but they returned on the third day with my friend dead.Although I have wanted a lot, I have not been able to leave the jungle to go to his funeral, neither have I met his family - he had two daughters and a woman waiting for him .
I know that theinsurance for accidents or death of the organization with which I work will give to his family enough money so that they can live calm and that they will send us a new antidote easier for transporting and of oral administration, the previous one was via veins and given by the male nurse that travels with us. The new antidote is not as efficient as the other one but it slows the action of the poison enough time to arrive to the camp.
Some days ago in the blog of a friend I read about the necessity of the search of the truth, of the love and of oneself and remembering my first months here, i thought that it is true that we all are looking for something although some people do not even know that they are doing it. I also remembered to Henrry and I thought that we always look for ephemeral things. That the truth is what we look for things or feelings or states of spirit that the only thing that it does is to exalt our ego.
One afternoon, talking about the poverty, after a moment of silence, my friend - a bit sad - said to me: "for me, to be poor, just can be to see die of hunger to my children" This one, was my friend's truth, this one it is an universal truth.