End-Of-Year Musings

December 21, 2008 at 6:51 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment

Peru is a third world country, but I’d say my ‘third world’ experience has generally had more to do with infrastructure than a lack of basic needs. I think a big part of that is due to the fact that I live in a relatively large town of 9,000 people, 40 minutes from one of the most rapidly developing capital cities in Peru. As a business volunteer this has been great for me because materials exist, a market exists, and the artisans I’m working with can focus on their developing their trade knowing there is enough at home to buy food and necessities.

The fact that people are born into different lives with different opportunities has been in the back of my head since day one. For the most part, this has been a source of inspiration for me. Peru is in an exciting period of economic development, and I am lucky enough to live in a town that represents a microcosm of that development. I’ve had my fair share of failures, but it is exciting to see people taking advantage as new opportunities open up to them. I think you quickly adapt to the changes and poverty, and it becomes part of your everyday. Last week, though, I had a disheartening and eye-opening experience, one that made me step back and take stock. I was out in the casario where I teach once a week, and around midday a small boy fainted from starvation and heat exhaustion. He had gotten up early to help his parents in the fields, walked to school around 8:00 am in the hot sun, and hadn’t had anything to eat or drink all day. With one of the teachers, I quickly carried him outside for some shade and fresh air, and scurried around to find some water and something to eat. I am not familiar enough with his family situation to know whether this was due to negligence, or a true lack of resources. Regardless, it was heartbreaking to see him barely be able to sit up in the middle of the day, let alone participate. I guess I’ve always known that this situation exists for most of the kids I teach out there, but reality gives you a good slap in a face when a child faints right in front of you.

Life can be unfair, but it seems that a newer and stronger word is necessary for the fact that a little boy cannot wake up, eat breakfast, and go to school in the mornings, just like I did as a kid. The quality of education can vary, the quality of breakfast can vary, but the guarantee of a roll of bread or a glass of milk, and that he won’t be dragged out of class for a week each month to harvest crops seems like it should be within reach! Incidents like that one make the bottom-up type of development work I’ve been doing seem a bit futile. I know, in the end, it is not. I have changed lives and created opportunities, but only for a small percentage of the people in my town. I have to believe that the changes I’ve made will eventually trickle out to more people and touch more lives. Still, with all I’ve experienced, and all I know of the world, it feels like I should be able to do more, and help more.

I know times are tough right now in the states, and I’m hoping that for this holiday season all my faithful readers realize that what you might be lacking due to a rough economic year is probably the cherry on a very big sundae to many around the world, and to take stock and realize that you still have a lot to be grateful for. So, on that note, enjoy the holidays, and have a happy and safe new year. I’ll ‘e-see’ everyone in 2009!

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1 Comment »

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  1. I don’t know if you have any more left to write, but this could be the beginning of a great app essay… (ps, how’s hernando de soto coming along?)


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