The warm and kind people of Villa Chatito received the Courts for Kids group this morning with open hearts and arms. They enthusiastically marched us down the main drag, posters in hand – young children, adults, and grandparents alike. Proudly and with unconditional respect they invited our team to lift their flag and sing the Peruvian anthem.
We were then whisked off to the village’s sole high school which reflected the a wide spectrum of grade school. Behind the lead of the principal, the children clapped, they cheered, they chanted: “¡Viva Peru!” “Viva Divino Maestro (high schools name)” And, the last of the thread of “vivas” hearteningly endorsed long life for the Courts for Kids crew.
We set eyes on both the court site as well as an impressively dedicated local health post. At the field, the men and women had taken off direly-needed work just to help our team accomplish our goal for the community. At the clinic, the relatively wide array of clinical staff conveyed their ambitious passion to grow their skills while advancing the site’s scope of practice for this clearly in-need population.
After a delectable lunch and dinner later – both prepared by the locals with true “cariño,” (an enhanced, more touching version of care) I retired to my host family. The entire bunch immediately embraced me, further easing the transition of no sleep and endless flight connection fiasco, into this new territory. And their own seamlessly loving interaction amongst themselves was icing on the cake. What more would the remaining six and a half days with the Villa Chatito people hold? I guess you don’t know what you don’t know. Let’s build a court and find out.
-Bret Gorden, LCSW
The day started at 6am with the morning town news over the loud speakers. It was our wake up call that it was time to start the day. After walking with Mama Anna to breakfast we were treated with tasty egg and avocado sandwiches. At the end of breakfast we each picked a challenge to complete by the end of the day. We kept it a secret until days end, where we should share our challenges after dinner.
Afterwards we walked to the area where we would be constructing the multi-use court. Our team moved over sixty bags of cement in no time and once the cement mixer was in place we got to work. We moved like a well-oiled machine and by lunch time we had completed seven squares of the court and our work day had ended since we ran out wood to build more forms. Throughout the day the children were helping load sand while we taught them English.
– Chris Grantham
Today began a little bit earlier than the day before. However, we only had to work a half day, which included hauling cement to the mixing site, filling buckets with various material, and hauling prepared concrete to the future court. The work was hard, but it went by very quickly. Everyone was working hard, and like the previous day, the locals were helping, including the children. Once the work had finished for the day, we proceeded to utilize sandpaper to remove some old paint from the soccer goal posts. A few in our group witnessed a goat give birth while it was being herded. Apparently the mother goat was hyper focused on staying with the group because it left its baby behind. At lunchtime, we were treated to an authentic Peruvian cooking show, starring the dish “ceviche”. Our hearty meal consisted of various tubers, ceviche, rice, lentils, and a lima bean-looking legume. Following lunch was a well needed siesta. After our quick nap, we all walked down to one of the soccer fields to watch our local friends play in a soccer tournament. I’ll pretend I don’t know which team won, but in the end, we all had a good time. Soon after our soccer game ended, we were treated to yet another delicious meal: duck with a delicious gravy, rice, and salad. After dinner, dance lessons, which at first felt more like an intense cross-fit training session. We learned various traditional Peruvian dances, and a good time was had by all. We returned to our respective homes to a much needed bucket bath. Looking forward to sleeping in and having a day off tomorrow!
Today was a great day! This trip happened at a perfect time, the Peruvian Independence Day celebration! We got to sleep in and had the day off and celebrate with the pueblo of Chatito.
After a great breakfast at Jamie’s mom’s house we all gathered round and did a little face painting to prepare for Chatito’s Independence Day parade. The colors of the Peruvian flag were painted on cheeks, backs, and a leg. With our Peruvian flags in hands and hats we headed to the plaza. We were joined today with more of Jamie’s Peace Corp friends, James and Claudia, who talked about their travels and the pueblos they serve. At the plaza we watched as the children gathered all decked out in costumes representing the many traditions and cultures of Peru. The time and amount of work that must have went into preparing for this celebration was truly inspiring. The pride in their culture is handed down from generation to generation and evident in the preparation that was displayed today.
Our group of volunteers were given seats of honor with many of the pueblo’s officials so we could watch the parade. It was truly awe inspiring to see the whole pueblo of Chatito out to support the children participating in the parade. As the first of the children finished their part of the parade they rushed back to watch the others until our group marched in the finale. Everybody gathered round us to support and celebrate with us on the day of their independence.
After we ate lunch we were invited to celebrate with music and dancing with the local officials. I admit to feeling a little out of place at first (I am not a dancer) we were encouraged/dragged out on the dance floor and got the party going. The dance floor filled up and everybody had a great time. Some of us showing off, badly I am sure, some native dance moves we learned the night before.
As we wound down the day with dinner, and all back together again, we reflected on the day with laughter and a sense of community. The pueblo of Chatito, while impoverished and lacking the amenities most of us take for granted, is a warm and inviting community and could teach us all a lot about what is truly important.
Yesterday was the Fiestas Patrias celebration so we all had a lot of fun not working and dancing. Today was like any other work day except it was a full day and more Peace Corps volunteers came to help us build the court. I had a lot more things do which was fun and tiring at the same time. We completed 12 squares which was our goal in the beginning.
It’s really nice to see how many of the Chatitanos that come out every day to help with the court(very influential). I was also happy to see the children who were more than willing to help too. It seemed like they were working harder than I was!
At the end of the day Mark and Jaime led us in refelections. I think that part of the day brings each and every one of us closer together as a family. ‘Peaks and Pits’ is really great because it allows us to complain but also let us know what to improve for next time. Shout Outs’ is also great because it allows us to give props the ones who deserve it most.
Today was an overall great day for our team. Although we didn’t get to sleep in, and the wake up earlier than usual, the day was still amazing. We were at our site and ready to go at 7:30am. We always start the day at the court site by moving cement and getting supplies in order, which pales in comparison to our hard working construction crew and community members. The lovely Peruvian Villa Chatito community members always show up to help and lend a hand in any way possible. Let’s not forget our Peace Corps volunteer, Karlia, who not only showed up to help us today but was also a proud member of the wheelbarrow crew. She has to leave us when we broke for lunch, but we sure were lucky to have her.
We had just enough time before dinner for a quick trip to La Union, a town in Central Peru, about 20 minutes away via car/mototaxi/combi. A group of nine of us went on a mission for our birthday cake, snacks and beverages. We were celebrating the soon-to-be birthday of Bret and the half birthday of RO two CFK team members.
– Shanelle House
How exciting! 7 days ago, 15 almost strangers (some of us worked on projects together, previously) united with one goal in mind; building a multipurpose court for children to play on, in their community. Today, that goal was achieved. For a week, we called Villa Chatito, our home and members of the community treated us like family. Though it was 7 days ago that we met, the court itself only took 3 and a half days for us to complete, something that can be attributed to great team work. We were told that officials from the city of Piura, as well as from our pueblo, will be coming for the inauguration of the court the following day; a very proud moment for CFK, as well as the MANY community members who helped out.
Although our time with each other, and the community will be soon be over, rather than focusing on the end, we will think of the future and new beginnings for Villa Chatito. Though we can’t slow time down, our memories are everlasting.
– Roneesha Erby
The final day of the court project was a great success. You could almost feel the sense of excitement in the community, especially among the children. They knew that they had a new soccer field to play on, and the opportunity to learn new sports like basketball and volleyball. Jamie and her counterparts organized a big community event and the district mayor even came down. Many, if not most, of the locals who helped us build the court were there, as were local leaders. Everyone started giving speeches, praising the group for their sense of service and thanking Courts for Kids for coming down and working on the project. Finally, as is the custom, we inaugurated the court by breaking a champagne bottle on it. I was in charge of breaking it, and I got a bit on the mayor’s shoulder. Fortunately, he smiled and didn’t mind.
After, we all played soccer, basketball, and volleyball together and had a great time. We had a communal dinner and invited all of those who worked with us to eat with us. It was a great experience and will be difficult to say goodbye tomorrow. Group morale is high and we all feel accomplished and blessed to have been able to meet and work shoulder to shoulder with the good people of Villa Chatito, Peru.