Hello everyone, and welcome to the latest Volunteers Peru newsletter with all the updates from our projects over the last month.
The month started with a bang (literally) with the annual fiesta patronal in Tomepampa. Volunteers Clio and Verity had spent the previous few weeks working in Colegio Honofre Benavides, and the rest of the team (including our summer intern Marissa, who had come back to Peru just for the festival!) went over there to join them for the party. Tomepampa usually defines ‘sleepy’, but everybody from the surrounding area and everybody that had ever lived in Tomepampa (or so it seemed) had come for the festival, and the place was popping! The party got started on the Thursday night with a mass, a model virgin being paraded through the streets, and then music and dancing. On Friday everybody took a rest, before getting back into the swing of things over the weekend. The focal point of Saturday and Sunday was the bull running – not a Spanish-style killing of the bulls, just waving the cloths in their faces and annoying them. We all sat round to watch and ate guinea pig, to keep things extra-Peruvian. However, the bulls got their revenge when after the spectacle one escaped and ran into the crowd dancing in the bull ring. A woman was injured and everyone else very shaken up, but we’ve since heard that she made a full recovery. We all drank a little too much medicinal Pisco for the shock, and danced Saturday night away in the town square.
After the party ended it was back to business as usual at school in Tomepampa, but happily we were able to provide one last treat for the school children. Marita’s cousin had decided that she would like to make a donation so that we could have hot chocolate and panettone with all of the students. Monday morning found the volunteers preparing snacks for 250! Happily everything went smoothly and everybody got a slice of cake and a cup of chocolate. It was really nice to be able to do something like this with the students, as we are not quite as present in Tomepampa due to the distance.
Back in Arequipa, things have also been busy. In the last three weeks there have been six new girls arrive at Casa Hogar Torre Fuerte: Maribelia, Adriana, Rubi, Milagros, Cindy and Jessica. Apart from Adriana, they are all in primary school, making the afternoons that the volunteers spend there busier than ever! The new girls are all settling in nicely and starting to feel at home at Torre Fuerte.
Another exciting development this month is a link that we have made with the Dreambuilder business training programme. This is a free online course developed by one of the top managements schools in the USA aimed at Latin American women. It teaches the concepts of business and marketing through telenovelas – a very culturally appropriate form! Ella and Eva met with the country manager of the programme to discuss the possibility of bringing it to some of the older girls at Torre Fuerte. Last week she came to the home to discuss it with girls and staff, and we are hoping that some of the girls will be able to complete the programme during January and February when they are on their school summer holidays and have more time.
We have some exciting things coming up over the next month – we’re looking forward to welcoming some new volunteers who will be working both in Tomepampa and in Arequipa. We also have another fundraiser planned at Déjà vu. We’re hoping to make enough money to do some classroom improvements at Colegio Honofre Benavides, and to help as much as we can at Torre Fuerte over Christmas.
We’ll be back with more news in a month’s time lots of greetings from sunny Peru coming your way! Thank you all for your continued support and encouragement.