Wednesday, December 27, 2006

i want to catch everyone up on what's happening in our peru plans. for some it will be recap with some more recent news from pave, just minus her original letters.

steve and i are going to peru in april, may and june of 2007! we first were going to take a trip together. you know, like a romantic, more expensive trip. and because he knows i love to travel, he surprised me with getting his passport over the summer and we started talking more seriously. well our conversation shifted from an expensive trip to like europe or costa rica for maybe a month to a 3 month trip where we could volunteer, live cheaply, and i would get to see all my little godchildren again. yes, peru!

so when i asked what he may be interested in doing there, steve mentioned aprovecho and their work in rocket stoves. because i pave and i have been in touch for some time now, i knew there were projects she could find for us also. so i wrote asking her all of that and mentioned the stoves. we went to visit aprovecho and got some contact people to write to.

meanwhile back in peru, the new presidente garcia has a wife who has taken on raising awareness about indoor air pollution. i told pave and she immediately went to visit the govt office in cusco. i talked and wrote to people affiliated with this well, movement, as i've quickly discovered. (steve says its like we caught a wave!) so the next thing you know pave did some local research, she developed a plan and projected expenses. then a fantastic conference was held in lima. we were able to send her to this incredible meeting all about this topic! technical sessions, various experiences, representatives of the WHO and PAHO and people from all over central and south america. she commented to me of the "passion" these people had about stoves! she said that they would stay up all hours talking about stoves! She couldn't keep up the pace but was amazed! (she hopes we can all go together next year!)

i think to be part of something like this has been very empowering for her. (please remember she is a teacher raised in cusco, works for a group of nuns who are collectively known as Sacerdote de las Siervas de Cristo. she has been working where very few peruvians actually go and she confronts many situations native peruvians may turn their back on. and in communities often ignored for a long time. she comes with her own experience and the trust of this particular village where they have been trying to make a future for the children working together to make a market, build a better school, and improve the health of the women and children.) at the meeting she happily told me about someone she met who participated in a similar project in urubamba, not too far from sipascancha. and they may be a source for cheaper stoves. i'm so happy we could send her and she wanted to go!

just so how cool is all that?!

so, we're going, we're going, we're going!! we'll be based in cusco, and then traveling in and around the sacred valley. we'll be working collecting baseline data like spirometry measurements of pulmonary function, and querying everyone about their habits around cooking and staying warm, type of fuel and how often used. and then it'll be building stoves!!! pave tells me to not worry, our work will be side by side with the villagers. and there'll be technical help!

and on our end, yes, it's mostly money we'll have to come up with--6500$. jack and marti have told me of a mutual friend who's a lawyer that wants to talk to me about non-profit status. he apparently knows someone i can talk to. hmmm. so we'll see. regardless, i really think it will all be OK and that opportunities will continue to present themselves. and we'll be there to jump on them.

and steve is studying quechua! "imansutiki?" (whats your name), "wawa" (baby) although you wouldn't know from my examples here, it's a fascinating gutteral language. me, i can't wait to talk spanish!!

and pave is setting everything up on her end. she said she felt we could do this in 3 months, so i'm figuring she'll know what to have in place. i am relieved she participated in the meeting and actually knows more about what she's up against. we'll work together on whatever arises until then. we're saving money. its like all i think about. i'm soon going to write and apply for financial assistance for our expenses through the catholic organization that sponsored my work before. then it'll be acquiring things to bring like school supplies for the new school opening in march, clothes and medicine and god, wouldn't it be great to bring whatever it is the computers need and plastic to repair the greenhouse toppled by heavy snow?!

so that's where we're at. and we'll get the money one way or another...and with 2007 around the corner, this too feels like just around the corner!

meanwhile, christmas will be celebrated dec 28, so to give more time to putting together a meal and gifts for all. pave will write soon i'm sure and i can pass it on. big hug to everyone and happy new year!

Saturday, December 23, 2006

happy holidays!

I'm grateful for my little house, hot water, my bed and the covers, my garden space, my fantastic old free car, my sweet bianchi, my cats, my little brown shawl from nepal from mica, especially in the winter. i'm ever so grateful for my kids, and yes, my ex-husbands. my old boyfriends. still. even though its seeming like all relationships have their ebb and flow. i'm grateful for my job and grateful to not be running anything other than what feeds my soul. i'm grateful to know all my friends in peru and am more grateful for what they taught me about happiness in a world fraught with insecurity. i'm grateful for another chance to give back. i am so grateful for each and everyone of my friends who have stuck with me for a long time. folks, you know who you are. and, i'm grateful for steve, the sweetest, most thoughtful boyfriend in the world.

more on a holiday note, here is my christmas story. this is true!

a few days ago i was getting together all my bills, and on a separate piece of paper, writing down the money i wanted to send onto peru for the holidays. (wonderful friends gave me money--250$--to send on to sipascancha! thanks ellen, shelley, and jack and marti!) so here i was sitting here doing what i do every christmas now for the last 4 years it seems, always finding myself thinking of everyone down there, just being my typical sucker self. and loving it. and wondering deep down if i'm crazy or something. and that even if the money ended up in timbuktu, that it always made me happy that my intention was to make 280 children happy even if for just a small part of a day. but it adds up--280 children!!

so i figured out i had enough to pay the bills i had in my hand, do christmas here, and still send a total of 800$ to sipascancha, not counting some for washington and his annual trip around ollantaytambo delivering hot chocolate to some of the most remote villages in the sacred valley, and some also for rosa and piero and their family, who were my family when i was faraway from here, and seem to always struggle caring for their multigenerational family members.

so off it goes! 800 to sipascancha, 150 to washi, 200 to rosa. all by western union. and of course milliseconds later realize that i have yet again (!) consciously put myself in dicey straits. perhaps i ask myself, this is a sickness?! they always seem like they need it more than i! i suppose it may seem crazy to people.

(so, a bit of background, you see, i had been getting disability while i was off for my surgery. and now that i was back part-time it was like running into a brick wall trying to talk to the company, hospital, etc. and that it was sounding like i wouldn't qualify for anymore. and there was nothing else to be done, and truthfully i let go of it because of what the insurance company had told me. the plain short of it seemed i would be short on cash until i get back to work regular hours. )

so, yeah, no doubt crazy! but, it was done. and i knew it would be OK. anyway ten minutes later. i go to the mailbox. a check arrives for 1000$!!!!!! i am approved for partial disability!

so i want to tell you, it feels like all is well. gracias.

Monday, December 11, 2006

i have spent a good part of this day wanting to write in my blog and what finally prompts me to do it is this letter i just received from Pave. She is going to be on her way tomorrow to Lima to attend what i'm sure will be a fantastic meeting about indoor air pollution, stove technology, implementation, etc. it is simply so perfect she could go!! Steve and i decided we couldn't and it occurred to us to ask her. She jumped at the chance.
so here is her letter:
Hola Laurita:
Estoy yo también muy contenta, sabes consegui un pasaje de ida y vuelta por 130 dolares en la agencia de una amiga una promociòn así que hasta ahi todo va muy bien, espero aprender mucho y aprovechar esta oportunidad, llevaré una pequeña cámara de fotos digital para registar hechos significativos del proyecto, gracias de nuevo, aasí espero lo hagamos lo mejor posible y así seremos más felices ayudando de manera adecuada,esperare el dinero gracias no te preocupes mucho la navidad empezo ya desde que tu decidiste apoyar a nuestros hermanos.
Un abrazo grande .atodos y en especial para ti-

and a translation:
hi Laurita,
I am very happy also! Do you know I found a ticket for 130$, it was a special promotion in an agency my friend works at. So, yes everything is going well. i hope to learn and make the most of this at every opportunity. I'm going to bring a camera to make special note of anything. thank you again. we'll do the best possible and we'll be happier doing it the right way. i will wait for the Christmas money, thanks, but don't worry much, Christmas began ever since you decided to help our brothers. A big hug to everyone and one especially for you.

so, i'll end there for now. and go to work (first night back since knee surgery!) feeling warm and fuzzy inside and out.

Sunday, December 03, 2006

it has been nearly a month since i've blogged! hummm. while my plans had been to do more posting and projects this last month, since i'd be recovering from what i thought would be "minor knee surgery", what actually happened was that i fell into a medicated stupor for a couple weeks. and as i came out of that, i've been busy with my rehab, and accepting that yes, it is winter and sure as shit this was no "routine" surgery. so here it's been a month already! tomorrow i may be back to work for short shifts, as long as they agree to the restrictions. while it worries me a bit to be going back and subjecting myself to lifting and twisting, i want to see how it feels. now i'm at the point where i can be up and on my feet awhile--so we'll see what happens.

must say right now i'm listening to Joanna Newsom, YS. totally loving it. steve and i saw her last night at the WOW hall. her presence, the other musicians accompanying her, her voice, her lyrics, all totally outstanding. it was like a spiritual experience.

news from peru! a few days ago DHL (a delivery service like UPS) drove right up to the little house. oh, so exciting, because i remembered the company in cusco, in fact i had shipped things with them before. so yes, it was from peru! i received a dvd, letter and lists of the 280 children living in sipascancha from pavela. originally i had written pave about doing some short clips of the children there, their school, homes, everyday life. (this being for the interchange between North Branch School in Afton, Virginia and the school in sipascancha.) well, what we received was an hour and a half long video showing us much of their daily surroundings, formal introductions of each and every child, and shots of the dilapidated buildings, scant food supply, collapsed greenhouse, etc.! in her enclosed letter she said the video was of poor quality but was their effort at helping the children. its obvious everyone was involved and that the production of it was a big event in sipascancha.

there were many parts that brought tears to my eyes. i have no idea on how to upload something like that?? whomever is reading this could see it. for now, i can always be emailed if there is someone who wants to see it.

so, soon a copy will be in virginia, along with a letter from pave. i've asked her to send the childrens' letters soon. i've also asked her to try to do another dvd but this time focusing on the homes and open fires. i find myself thinking about what i could do to raise money with things like these.

there will be a conference in lima 13, 14 of december about indoor air pollution and stove technology. we can't go. yikes, 1200$ flights. but, we going to send pave to represent us and the village. while winrock is invaluable in terms of collaboration, they can't help us with funding. we need an organization that can accept donations for us.

so otherwise its christmastime. working on sending money so to cover a special meal, tangerine, sandals and perhaps for the smaller ones a piece of clothing. last year shelley and i sent boxes of toys. we had a ball! because shipping can be so expensive we thought this year to send money where something they all needed could be bought, like their sandals. anyway, we'll do our best.