Our last 2 weeks in Molinopampa was mixed with hundreds of good byes (I’m not exaggerating), invitations for breakfasts, lunches and dinner, gifts (some were alive), parties, baptizing our God Daughter, Ricsy Anjhelisa Chavez Santillan, finishing projects, and finishing Peace Corps reports. Saying good bye was gut-wrenching hard and we will always remember our dear community of Molinopampa. Here are a few pictures from our last couple of weeks in site. I hope to make a video of our Peace Corps experience soon.
To finish the healthy homes projects, we are throwing a Fiesta Infantile (or Infant Party) in each community and the first of five was on Friday in the community of Pumahermana. The event included a clown, a piñata, music, balloons, confetti, snacks and toys. And, at the end of the party, the mothers who I have been working with, presented me with a prepared guinea pig for Eddie and I to enjoy. I was honored and truly appreciated their gift.
I can’t believe we are almost finished with our Peace Corps service. Eddie and I will officially end our service on October 24, 2014. Last week, we went to Lima to have our close of service conference and medical checks. It was really nice seeing some of the other volunteers I hadn’t seen since trainings. And, Eddie is happy to report that he has a parasite. Thanks to wonderful Peace Corps doctors, we are both getting the full treatment for this, so no worries from friends and family back home.
After the conference, a few of us were able to attend the internationally recognized food festival Mistura. To say the least, it was absolutely amazing and I was so very impressed by Peru and it’s food.
On August 30, 2014, we were able to be one of the 17 mayordomos (or fiesta host) for the fiesta of Santa Rosa de Lima. She is the saint celebrated by the police and is celebrated as the first saint of the Americas. The week included a night of prayer and rosary, making the local chicha (fermented sugar cane and flour), serving sweets, having mass, BBQ, band and dancing. Eddie and I enjoyed ourselves celebrating this special day with our community.
Training for my wonderful Molinopamina mothers continues. I’m working with mothers in the entire district of Molinopampa, specifically in Molinopampa itself and 5 of it’s annexes. Officially (based on the project that I am using monitoring and evaluation tools), I am working with 39 mothers, 41 children under the age of 3, and 4 health promoters. Unofficially, I’m working with an additional 20 mothers, their children and 2 more health promoters (these are not being monitored like I would have preferred). The main themes are illness prevention (diarrhea and respiratory infections), nutrition, and early childhood stimulation. As always, I closely work with the Health Center of Molinopampa, the Health Post of San Jose, the health promotion center of Molinopampa (which is a municipal project), and the educational home visit program called “Aprendiendo en el Hogar”.
TRAINING HEALTH PROMOTERS:
The 4 health promoters I am working with continue to be rock stars. We work on the same themes as with the mothers, but also focus on their self-esteem and professional development. In addition to these 4 promoters, the municipality has a health promoter training project, where a volunteer in each community receives health trainings every month. I am helping implement and plan these trainings. One of the promoters and I just solicited our municipality for money in order to transform an old storage room in the school into a kids learning and health promotion space, and we are very excited to find out they approved our request. Now, I just need to see if my wonderful husband will help with the wall plaster and window pane installation. Honey?
Doubling as a Peace Corps official 2nd goal (see goals at: About Peace Corps) and a health promotion activity, my fellow Peace Corps volunteer, Megan Barnhart and I, threw a baby shower for 7 pregnant women who live in the annexes of Molinopampa. We had cake, games and prizes, exercises, quick educational session given by the Obstetrician, and gifts for all the ladies. It was a lot of fun sharing this tradition with our community.
And on an extremely sad note, yesterday upon arriving to one of my annexes, posters in hand, ready for an educational session, I received the incredibly terrible news that one of the children in my group passed away the night before, from a respiratory illness. The baby was only 1 1/2 months old and it hit hard when I realized the mom did not attend the session we just completed on respiratory illness (how to prevent them and how to respond if one occurs). In lieu of the next session, the promoter, moms and I made a wreath for the funeral. This was definitely the hardest Peace Corps day during my entire service.
For July 4th, several of the Amazonas Peace Corps volunteers had an American celebration, complete with a BBQ, wiffle ball game, fun-fetti cake, USA flag tank top, human pyramid, Dixie Chicks music video re-creation and banana pudding. It was a fun filled day, for sure!
And for Peru’s Independence Day on July 28, Eddie and I enjoyed all the local festivities. At night, everyone made lanterns out of bamboo. Once the lanterns were candle lit, we walked around town together, ending with a hot chocolate gathering at the elementary school. Eddie and I were honored to be ask to make the official Peace Corps lantern of Molinopampa, representing the entire Peace Corps organization. During the day, we had a town parade, where every institution was represented, either by performing the official military march of the country or representing the 3 regions of the country (coast, mountains or jungle).
We were very happy and proud to be apart of another Corpus Christi Fiestas Patronales in our lovely cow town of Molinopampa. Here are a few pictures from the week long celebration.
Here, the mayordomos (or celebration hosts) do an official dance and ceremonial cleaning of the plaza.
I am serving a sweet bean dessert made of pinto beans, fresh cows milk, and a natural sugar made from sugar cane. I enjoyed serving the out-of-town folks from Lima.
My friend, Pablo, is excited to be sharing and serving a drink called Aguardiente (Artisan liquor made from sugar cane). Forewarning: it’s super strong!
Here, workers are building a firework castle to be displayed at night. The “castillo” is probably one of the most insanely cool things I have seen in Peru.
My girlfriends and I are excited about the fiestas.
This is an example of the nuts that are tied on the dancers feet. When they dance around the plaza, they make a very interesting shaking-type sound that is a beautiful addition to the music being played.
Eddie and I in the beautifully decorated church.
Eddie and I were asked to be apart of our corner’s alter… of course, we were Jesus and Mary.
The “castillo” lit up at night.
The central day of the festival.
Eddie hanging out with a few of the winners from the parade.
Here I am with my friend who dressed up as a bottle of yogurt for the parade.
My friend and the governor of Molinopampa, Ecco, demonstrates how to use the new cow milking technology during the parade.
Here, I am having lunch with the police officers. The police chief cheers everyone with a small glass of Agaurdiente.