News Blog

You can keep up with the latest project developments from the people on the ground making them happen via the BWB Blog. We want to hear from you and welcome your comments.
PROJECTS BLOG 03/20/2008

Inspiring Words from Sandra

Sandra here, reporting from Pisco!

During the last three weeks doing volunteer work with BWB, I did some interesting projects and some of the hardest work I´ve ever done in my life (and it felt great!). The first project I worked on was preparing a garden area and creating a tile mosiac on a hand washing station for an Jorge Chavez elementary school in downtown Pisco. It felt wonderful to so something that would beautify the place for the 300 or more students who would get to enjoy it. The school caters to some of the poorest kids in town, and doesn’t receive much federal aid. The school is built on what was formerly a trash dump site, and many people still call it, La Basurita, which loosely translated means Little Trash School. Since it is near the central market, many of the vendors still dump their trash just outside the school out of habit or something.

However, Maria, the school´s director is a visionary woman who has transformed that school into a leader in environmental education, a concept that is still almost unknown in Pisco. She instills the students with a sense of responsibility and the self-esteen that comes with that. Also, she has created some really nice gardens for them to play in within the school grounds so they can connect with nature. She is an inspiration to me! I hope that at a later date we will return to paint a beautiful mural inside the school with the help of the students. I only got to meet a small group of the students, because the school was on summer break, but they were so friendly and fun to interact with. To me, the children here in Peru are refreshingly sweet and innocent compared to what I´ve encountered in the US.

After the tiling project ended, I went on to breaking up an old concrete foundation with a pick and sledgehammer for a day (very good for stress relief!). After that I was put in charge of a project to level out dirt floors for 21 classrooms at San Martin School – which was a 100 year old school that was mostly leveled in the earthquake. Myself and a team of 5 people got the floors leveled and prepped for concrete in 4 and a half days! I´m learning a lot about leadership through these little projects! On Tuesday before I left Pisco, we did our first concrete pour at the school. It was exciting in a crazy sort of way. We had to push this huge concrete mixer about a quarter of a mile to get it into position, and we had to do some hasty plumbing to get water to where we were doing the work. The collection of metal pipes, hoses and pvc pipes we strung together was really quite funny looking. But it worked. We got concrete floors done for 3 classrooms that first day, and I expect the pace picked up dramatically the next day after the kinks were all worked out of the system – but I wasn´t there to see it. Anyway, that was my first time working on and supervising a concrete pour and I think I did all right. I certainly learned a ton!

On my last night in Pisco, Monday night, I lead an ¨Intercambio¨ (a Spanish and English language and culture exchange meeting). We run these every night and the community loves it. As the ¨teacher¨ I got to choose how I wanted to run the event. I chose to play charades, with the English speakers on one team and the Spanish speakers on another. Of course, the Spanish speakers had to guess only in English and the English speakers in Spanish. It was pretty hysterical, of course it devolved into cheating and laughing, and even an overtime round! I kept hearing about it the next day, I guess everyone liked it. After the Intercambio we did some fire dancing in the street. I had probably the best performance of my life, at least it felt that way!

Leaving Pisco was an ordeal! I had to say good bye to so many Peruvian friends around the neighborhood, not to mention the other volunteers at Burners without Borders. I am always surprised at how much I´m really loved here by people who hardly know me. I hope I treat people I meet in the future the way these Peruvians and Burners have treated me. I´m already looking forward to my return to Pisco after I travel for a couple of weeks.



Comments are closed.