Pisco Sin FronterasPosted by in Blog | May 11, 2011
It’s been just over a month since I arrived in Pisco, Peru to volunteer with PSF. Once one arrives and begins working, it quickly becomes an addiction…one can’t get enough of it. I hear people say it all the time “I came here for two weeks and stayed two months” or “I was here before and I decided to return”. In fact, I am a repeat offender too—I volunteered with PSP back in August 2009 and decided to come back. I knew the day that I left PSF back then that my work was not done and that I would return. Finally, a year and a half later, I am back and it feels muy buen .
During my leave of absence from PSF there has been so much progress within the organization. Volunteer intake has grown to the point where PSF has secured a new property to accommodate the much larger population. New projects such as building houses are being started daily, and with lots of hands to help, projects are being completed at record speed. There is now a dedicated administration team with a real office to keep the organisation running smoothly….I can’t thank these people enough for all their behind the scenes hard work. But where PSF has really progressed is in community involvement/ development. PSF is not just about building houses; PSF is about teaching the community to be strong and resilient. PSF volunteers have the opportunity to work directly with locals to teach English, conduct yoga classes, and instruct fair play in sports such as football (soccer) at our newly built earth bag centre. Several times a week, a group of volunteers will get together in the evening to play a friendly game of football or basketball with other local community members.
A lot work is being done in the areas of green space development and environmental education. Currently, we are working with Peace Corp to beautify a community park in Túpac Amaru, an underprivileged neighbourhood on the outskirts of Pisco. We also work with a local group, Espacio Expresión as well as Peace Corp, to deliver environmental educational programs to school children. Since 2009, we have worked with members of the local fishing association to educate fishermen and the community about responsible fishing, reducing local sea contamination as well as teach English and basic computer skills. Furthermore, we work in partnership with the Red Cross and DEMUNA (Defensoría Municipal del Niño y el Adolescente) to create awareness about health and nutrition, sexual education, violence, employment opportunities, etc…
The most exciting part of PSF is that if a volunteer has a skill, trade, idea, or initiative that s/he would like to share, PSF will provide support to get an educational program off the ground and running.
It’s incredible to be a part of PSF, and I feel lucky to have stumbled upon this place. My friends back home in Canada tell how great it is that I’m doing something “good for the people of Pisco”. However, I see it a little bit differently: I feel the people of Pisco are doing great things for me. They have forced me to open my eyes to a different way of life and to appreciate the small things in life. e.g. Clean drinking water and air, hot showers, a comfortable bed, employment rights, electricity… the list goes on. The people of Pisco have taught me that shit will happen and you will overcome, and be stronger in the end. The skills I have gained here will certainly apply to my community at home and that there will always be a need to foster and invest in new ideas and initiative. This is really what builds strong communities.
When I head back to Canada in two weeks, I will be leaving a very poor area extremely rich. It’s ironic but true. I thank you, Pisco, for all you have given me.
By: Natasha MacKinnon
Victoria, British Columbia, Canada