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Archive for the ‘Peru’ Category

Marjorie and Stephen Kafoury will host the Friends of the Q’ero Community event Monday, June 7, 2010 at Andina restaurant.

Green Empowerment supports Friends of the Q’ero Community of Peru in building a new school. Once completed, the school will serve as a learning and community development center for the entire Marcachea community. Home to 57 families and a total of 376 inhabitants, the current school in Marcachea is in deplorable condition with inadequate school supplies, run-down latrines, and unacceptable living quarters for the teachers.

There will be a presentation on the Q’ero people, last living descendants of the Incas, followed by details about the project and time for questions.

Contact maggy@mhenryinteriors.com for more information.

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‘Meet a Green Empowerment Volunteer’ is a new installment on the Green Empowerment blog that highlights past and current Green Empowerment volunteers. Green Empowerment is very lucky to have various committed volunteers and this blog segment will allow the Green Empowerment community to get to know these fantastic individuals.

The smallest act of kindness is worth more than the grandest intention.  – Oscar Wilde

Dave Lindoo is the first volunteer to be featured.  Well done Dave and best of wishes on your journey to Peru!

Dave Lindoo

Hi, I am Dave Lindoo and I have chosen to volunteer six months of my time to travel to Cajamarca, Peru with Green Empowerment and help create, develop, and maintain renewable energy projects starting July of this year. I feel very lucky for having the opportunity to volunteer with Green Empowerment and I look forward to helping people in developing countries create and maintain sustainable projects that improve their lives. Ever since I’ve graduated with my B.S. in Mechanical Engineering Technology I’ve only wanted to put that degree and knowledge towards the renewable energy industry. I believe it is a very promising field and it is our future. I also believe it the best choice for rural areas in developing countries because it is far more economical than extending the grid (which usually isn’t an option anyway) and each project can be specifically catered to the village’s needs.

To learn more about Dave or donate to the project in Cajamarca please visit his blog!

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The actions of Walt Ratterman speak more clearly about his character than anything I could write. He has personally brought light to thousands of people around the world.  For example, he was the driving force behind bringing solar power to 37 clinics in Burma, serving over  170,000 internally displaced people a year. We had the honor of knowing and learning from Walt, an exemplary humanitarian dedicated to improving life around the world with renewable energy. We traveled and worked together in Thailand, Laos, Philippines, Peru and Nicaragua, while he was Program Director of Green Empowerment from 2003-2006. He worked side by side installing solar panels with Shuar natives in the jungles of Ecuador, traversed the rapids of rivers in Borneo to help on a micro-hydro project, and taught renewable energy in the highlands of Peru. He could easily make friends with people around the world, despite the language barriers, because anyone could relate to his sense of humor and down-to-earth friendliness. In 2006 he founded SunEnergy Power International , carried on his long-time work with Knightsbridge International, and continued to inspire everyone with his hard work, unwavering sense of justice and belief that everyone deserves to be treated as equals. In January, 2010, his dedication to humanity brought him to Haiti, where he was working on the installation of solar power for clinics. He was there when the earthquake hit. Friends and family searched for him in the ruins and sent their prayers.  Tragically, he did not survive, but his legacy lives on. He has taught me, and hundreds of others, that humility is a powerful force that can change the world.

-Anna Garwood and the Green Empowerment team

As a testiment to how many lives he has touched, as of writing this, there are 1882 fans of his Facebook page…

http://www.facebook.com/pages/Walt-Ratterman-Haiti-Mission/275563896042?ref=mf

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The Q´ero Nation, a community of people who live in the remote Andes of Peru, are currently facing large problems as they are lacking basic services like like clean drinking water, electricity, education, sanitary facilities and access to health care. Infant mortality between the ages of 0 and 5 is high at 47 percent and easily treatable respitory illnesses can quickly become fatal during the winter months when the area experiences below-freezing temperatures.

Green Empowerment has partnered with The Q’ero Development Assistance on a project to bring education and electrity to the Q’ero Nation. To learn more about the project and the community that it will serve please visit the Q’ero Development Assistance.

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The Sacred Valley is full of paradoxes. Stunning vertical landscapes. Tourism and a hippy mecca. Andean Waldorf schools. And grinding poverty…

I first meet up with Sandra and Sandy: two good natured, down-to-earth Canadians who are volunteering in Peru. Sandra with Kuasay Wasi Clinic (http://kausaywasi.org/) and Sandy with DESEA, Desarrollo en Accion (www.deseaperu.org), Green Empowerment’s new partner in implementing a project to improve health through household water filters. With the exciting news from the Metabolic Studios of Annenberg Foundation, the project finally has the resources to really get off the ground. I am in the Sacred Valley to see the team of DESEA, meet the communities and work out the logistics of the new grant.

Ricardinia, the newly-hired field manager, took us out to the communities: Totora, Accha Pampa and Chaipa. While at about 4000 meters (13,000 feet) themselves, they were nestled in valleys with the surrounding peaks towering at the aching heights of 5000 meters (16,400ft). Ricardinia grew up a day’s walk from the closest road, in some hidden village in these sacred hills. She left for high school and trained to be a teacher. She heard the radio ad for the DESEA field manager and was hired on. She is a huge asset as she is the main cultural and linguistic bridge to the poor communities.
ricardinia
In Totora we met Gregorio, the filter workshop manager, who was the young mayor of this adobe village. He was dressed in western clothes and spoke in fluent Spanish with a Quechua accent that made round words sound like triangles. He had attended the CAWST (www.cawst.org) training as is a devotee of the biosand filters that he builds everyday. We caught him with a bundle of wire mess as he was heading to Pampallacta to repair the school’s filter.

When they saw Sandra arrive in Totora, a group of women gathered for a “clinic” (not a building, but an event). They squatted on the ground and unwrapped their bundles of brightly woven cloth to reveal children that needed a nurse’s eye.
clinic
We met a woman and her baby that had lost a dangerous amount of weight from diarrhea. She had taken her to the Kuasay Wasi clinic where she was given a dehydration solution. By the time I met the baby, she had gained back some weight and looked like she would survive, but it drove home the point that simple hygiene and clean water are the most important things we can do to save children’s lives.
baby

These communities speak almost no Spanish. They maintain the poetic Quechua language and traditions alive. Everyday clothes look like a celebration, with dozens of buttons on the wrists arranged like pearls on an evening gown, and big flat round hats covered with ornate red cloth that dangled over the edge.

And yet, illiteracy, isolation, discrimination and malnutrition have taken their toll. Sandra describes meeting a woman who could not remember how many of her children had died; was it 5 or 6? I hear stories of a toddler eating paint, excessive alcohol and spouse abuse. I don’t see this kind of malnutrition where I live in Cajamarca, where rural people have few resources, but plenty of food, although both areas show signs of protein deficiency, with a diet based on rice and potatoes.

In Totora and Accha Pampa, we walk into the tiny dark kitchens, covered in soot, to see the filters. Ricardinia translates from Quechua. The people we met said they used the filters daily and even said that they had noticed an improvement in health of the children. They understand that the filters clean. The filters are made in one of the project communities out of local materials. The concrete structure is filled with sand and gravel which effectively remove pathogens.
biosand filter

Ricardina, Gregorio and the team say that everyone wants a filter. But once they have it, there are some (perhaps 15%) who don’t use it. Do they want it just because it’s a new thing to have in their home? It’s modern and different? Daily habits run deep too, thousands of years deep. And introducing some new-fangled things into those daily patterns is a hard thing to do. Even when you know it’s good for you. I know I should floss every day, but I don’t. It seems that here, the filter use and health education is not a secondary complement of filter installation, but needs to be at the core of the program.

school water

This pipe, from a dirty open sink hole, delivers water to schoolchildren


We surveyed the existing water sources. In Totora, there is “agua entubada” (piped, but not potable, water) that just comes from an open river, above which the animals graze… Kids drink from water that comes from an open sink hole near the school. Other communities have gravity-fed water systems that deliver spring water to some of the houses, but not to others.

Sandy has a kit to test for total coliforms and fecal coliforms, which are indicators of unsafe drinking water. The streams have lots of fecal coliforms, the sealed water spring water distribution systems are clean and the filtered water is clean. However, this has shown several of the systems are not working properly and need to be fixed (the sand was not fine enough and the water passes too quickly). This monitoring tool helps them adjust the filter fabrication.
lab test
The complex social and cultural environment will pose plenty of challenges, but also makes the need for the health and water program all the more evident. With the support of Metabolic Studios of Annenberg Foundation, 150 filters will be built and installed. Most importantly, workshops on health and hygiene will be integrated into the program and health promoters trained from the communities. Something so simple can save a life. After spending time with the DESEA team and going to the communities, I am optimistic that this partnership has what it takes.
landscape

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Anna Garwood, Green Empowerment’s Latin American Program Manager, was recently interviewed about a Green Empowerment Project in Peru.

If you aren’t in the Peruvian Amazon, and thus are out of the listening area of my recent interview on “Radio Marañon,” I’ll give you the translated upshot. Juan Santos Chavez, the president of the 10 family agricultural association in the village of La Libertad (i.e. Freedom) held the little black tape recorder up:

“Today we are honored to have the presence of a Señorita from the USA here in our town. She will introduce herself and tell you what she’s doing here”

“Good morning, my name is Anna Garwood. I work for Green Empowerment, a US NGO, in partnership with Soluciones Practicas-ITDG and I’m here in La Libertad on a follow up visit to a micro-hydro plant installed several years ago.  It is working well; the 5kw system is powering lights, cell phones, TVs, a machete grinder and even 26 laptops for all the kids in high school…I want to congratulate the community of La Libertad for organizing, building and operating the electrical plant…”

I also had a chance to interview Juan as we walked over the lush fields to the power plant. I asked about his observations of any changes in the community since electricity arrived; “What has impressed me most is the kids. They beat us at learning how to use and program the TV and DVD, and even the remote control.” In anthropology circles there is a debate about what, if any, things are universal across human cultures. I think Juan’s comment gives one more point to the universal side of the debate.

As for the adults, he mentions lighting and improving the means of work, such as the new machete grinder. He also says that electricity is cheaper than going through a packet of candles every week.

A peddler came around to La Libertad, hawking goods for sale. This time it was TVs, radios and blenders. Some people purchased their new electronic goodies in cash, but others paid the traders in sacks of coffee, chickens or guinea pigs.

After organizing to build the micro-hydro, they also got together to lobby the municipality for a road to the village, they improved the school building and since they have electricity, they were selected by the Ministry of Education, to receive a donation of laptops for each high school student which will revolutionize the access to information in this village off the beaten path.

Juan says about 5 people a week come to his house from other villages to charge their cell phones. Many people in surrounding villages use car batteries for household electricity, which they charge in the city a few hours away. Now, La Libertad wants a battery charger so that they can start a small business charging batteries off the micro-hydro system. They want to buy the charger on credit, and, when they get the legal title documents of the micro-hydro system, they can use that as collateral.

Juan had heard about ITDG on the radio, years ago, and walked an hour from his village to the closest road, and from there got a ride 2 hours to the regional city of Jaen, where he knocked on the doors of ITDG for assistance in building a micro-hydro project for electricity in his community. A few years later, the tables have turned, and now Juan is broadcasting the success story.

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In August of 2009, Andrew Kanzler led a group of fellow Landscape Architecture alumni, graduate, and undergraduate students from Cal Poly Pomona on a 10-day Green Empowerment Service Learning project/tour with staff from Practical Action in Peru/ITDG along sections of the Jequetepeque Watershed in northern Peru.  Andrew is an artist and current graduate student in Regenerative Studies at Cal Poly Pomona.  This was Andrew’s second experience with Green Empowerment after having traveled to Nicaragua in 2007.

Hostel in Cajamarca

Hostel in Cajamarca

In August myself and some classmates headed down to Peru with some folks from Green Empowerment. We flew into Lima and from there we went to Cajamarca. Cajamarca is in the Andes on the east side of the continental divide. This city is known as the switzerland of Peru because of their well known dairy products. I was pretty excited because I’m a huge fan of cheese and I’ve heard nothing but good things about Cajamarcan Cheese. What’s cool about this town is their old architecture and city plan. There is a plaza in the center of town called Plaza de Armas (turns out just about every plaza in Peru is called plaza de Armas). We stayed in a hostel just a block from the center of town called hostal de Cajamarca. Hostels in Peru aren’t like hostels that we think of in the states, Hostels are really just hotels that aren’t 4 star hotels. This hostel was really cool because it had a courtyard that we often used as the central gathering location or hang out spot when we were waiting or just chatting. It reminds me of how much I want a courtyard to be the center of my house. Of course this style is of spanish influence, not of the indigenous groups. We spent the first few days here, getting acqainted with what to expect and meeting with various people from the NGO Soluciones Practicas.

We were here because me and a few others had spent 6 months preparing a project for a community in the Andes of the La Cocha subwatershed. 6 months is a lot of work to be doing for a place that we had never seen before. We based all our judgments on figures and numbers on everything we could find about the area. We did research on the slopes, the rainfall, the temperature, types of crops they were growing, types of innovations their ancestors employed and a bunch of other things. We came up with as many solutions we could to help them adapt to global climate change and help them survive in a more globally effected climate.

Grade School in Cajamarca

Grade School in Cajamarca

But we finally made it out here, and were excited to be able to see what it was really like. Cajamarca is a relatively cold city, but based on our research we new that the town we were going to, Chilete, would be warm or even hot like it was back home. Unfortunately I had forgotten that the climate and temperature could change in Peru in such relatively short distances. On our way up we found that much of the Andes is being afforested with new trees that never grew here before.

Tree Landscape in the Andes

Tree Landscape in the Andes

Trees like Eucalyptus and pines we being planted along grids, and some of us weren’t sure wether they were the best species or not because they could become invasive.

Yanacocha Mine

Yanacocha Mine

The ride was definitely educational and we began to learn more about the Yanacocha mine that was nearby. It is one of the largest gold mines in the world yet the locals do not benefit from it.

Community Members of Chilete

Community Members of Chilete

Once we got to Chilete we presented some of our work to some leaders of the community. It was amazing to finally present our work to the people we intended it for. It being a class project that we had spent 6 months on, it never seemed like it was a real and viable project until that day. Our work was finally coming to life. If only we had really had this feeling earlier we may have been more prepared. Things like understanding that we need to produce our work in Spanish for them, and many other language barriers were a problem but we were able to make it through with our classmate Rene. Rene hadn’t been part of the project, but he was the most fluent Spanish speaker and he became an important part of the project. After our presentation we exchanged contact information with the hopes of keeping in touch.

Hillsides of Chilete

Hillsides of Chilete

We received a much needed info on the La Cocha sub watershed and we finally were able to see the hillsides we had been so accustomed to seeing on maps.

It was getting closer to our trip to Suro Antivo.

A Vicuna

A Vicuna

Suro Antivo is higher up in the Andes, on the way up we almost hit a Vicuna, a rare species related to the Alpaca. Its fur was once reserved for royalty because it is so soft.

Soccer Game in Suro Antivo

Soccer Game in Suro Antivo

There was much concern over how well our bodies would be able to handle the altitude when we got there, so Jason thought it’d be a good idea to play soccer when we got there. The long car ride made me beat so I decided to sit this one out.

Bamboo in Suro Antivo

Bamboo in Suro Antivo

Suro Antivo is an amazing town to visit. Farmers all own large plots of land and everyone lives no less than a quarter mile apart. Suro is a type of bamboo that was used as a common building material. That plant is no longer found in town. Antivo means “old” similar to the word antique. The grassland landscape here must have changed a few times over the many years that people have been here. It is likely going to change again.

Meeting in Suro Antivo

Meeting in Suro Antivo

Most of our meetings took place in the school house because it is the only public gathering place. In Suro Antivo many people have just received running water for the first time, and neighboring communities many people do not having clean running water at all. This means the most common causes of death is dysentery from dirty water.

Tapstand in Suro Antivo

Tap stand in Suro Antivo

Our objective in Suro Antivo was to locate and plot the existing springs on a GPS unit and then create tap stands for the existing taps so that they will not break.

Taking a Sample

Taking a Water Sample

We split up into a few groups, Some of us checked the flow of water on the existing springs. Some went and did environmental assessments on springs around town. When we returned we shared our findings with each other and began working on plans to keep the newer springs in optimal condition over a long period of time.

Working on Environmental Assessment

Working on Environmental Assessment

Here we are working on the plans for the assessments

Presenting Findings to the Community

Presenting Findings to the Community

And presenting them to the community.

Working in the Jequetepeque Watershed

Working in the Jequetepeque Watershed

Later on we went to other communities in other parts of the greater Jequetepeque watershed. We assessed other springs and conducted interviews of people that lived there.

A Group of Children

A Group of Children

So many people have no clean running water and so many people are sick every other week because of it. It’s truly eyeopening to know how fortunate we are in the US to have clean running water.

Alto Peru

Alto Peru

Our nights were coming to an end in Suro Antivo and our next stop was to be in Alto Peru on our way back to Cajamarca.

Community Members of Alto Peru

Community Members of Alto Peru

On our way to Alto Peru I noticed some locals packed in hauling trucks who seemed angry at us. We were driving by in the same kinds of trucks that the miners use so, many of the locals thought we were miners. When we arrived in Alto Peru we spoke with some of the community leaders who voiced extreme concerns about the mine.

Powerlines to Yanacocha Mine & Alto Peru Windturbine

Power lines to Yanacocha Mine & Alto Peru Wind turbine

The irony was that there were many power lines held up by large towers that ran right past Alto Peru and went directly to the yanacocha mine. The only source of power for those in Alto Peru were from their own wind turbines.

Paved Road

Paved Road

The road the rest of the way was paved. Again, the road to the mine is paved, but not to other parts of the watershed.

Cumbe Mayo

Cumbe Mayo

When we arrived back to Cajamarca we took a trip out to Cumbe Mayo. Something I have been wanting to see. Cumbe Mayo is the location of a pre Incan aqueduct, the craftsmanship of the aqueduct is just amazing.

Working in Cajamarca with Soluciones Practicas

Working in Cajamarca with Soluciones Practicas

Back in Cajamarca we met with some more folks from soluciones practicas and discussed our findings and impressions of Chilete, Suro Antivo and the surrounding areas. We said goodbye to our drivers who became our friends and before we knew it we were on our way back to Lima.

David and his Cuy

David and his Cuy

On our last days in Lima it became easy to become bored because our days previously were so filled. However it was our friend David’s birthday and we had a chance to celebrate. (he loves the cuy).

View from Larco Mar in Lima

View from Larco Mar in Lima

Now only a couple of months later I am back in school and still thinking about what kind of impact we may have had on the people we had visited.

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