Tuesday, June 16, 2009
by Phil Butler
People come to the barios from many parts of Peru including the mountains and Amazon for something better (we wonder what they left). There are 100 barrios up in the sand on the hillside with ´ 10,000 people in each. There are few men with most of the families led by the mom. Each family is given a plot of land by the government that is 20 x 60 ft. Initially, a small shelter is built of reeds or plastic. Then, when the family has more money they build a small mud brick room that they add to over time along with a wall around the plot. After a while, the government brings in electricity and water along the street to each home. One power connection was on a 3 x 5 ft brick wall with wires running to a reed hut.
We were able to visit a number of homes today while making chimneys. One of the homes was at the end of the barrio where the garbage was more exposed and it smelled even more then the rest of the area. The house was made of plastic bags stitched together and had no electricity or water. They cooked inside the house so the smoke swirled around inside. We built the stove w/ chimney outside so that the home would no longer be filled with a mixture of smoke and fumes from the heated plastic. Another house we built a chimney at was much nicer – made of fired brick, a cement floor (rare), and had several rooms. Of course, the family that lived there was still living in a community built on top of a landfill with much of it exposed due to erosion. Just outside the nicer house was a long ravine where all the garbage was exposed. At times, people walked through with a hoe looking for something useful to use.
The barrio we visited was known to have a large gang presence. Project New Hope had built a community center for the barrio. It was nicely done with a cement floor with tables, chairs, and lighting. The center offered a clean place where kids could come together to play and/or learn in a safe environment. It also seemed to allow leveraging of the volunteer moms who could watch 10 children instead of a few in a house.
I was amazed that most everyones clothes were quite clean – impressive as hard as it was to clean and dry our clothes at our nice hotel. Each evening when we left after a hard days work, we all had the luxury of showering before dinner. One of the quotes during family time was “it is better to not have and not want then to have and want”. I don t think most of realize how much abundance we have.