What began as four American missionaries sitting around a living room with one Peruvian listening to his ideas for development projects has grown into something much bigger. In 2009 we had one library functioning with an impact of around 20 people, in 2015 we will impact at least 650 lives in the library program alone. We have helped over 200 small business owners through loans, business management training, technical training and private management counseling...God has done more these last six years than we ever imagined, and shown us that there is so much more to come.
As I sat in our planning meeting the other day, it dawned on me that my new job as a volunteer with CUDA is to spend all of my time doing, in my opinion, the best part of these doctors’ jobs because they don’t have time. I couldn’t help but feel downright giddy about the prospect. What a gift from God!
CUDA has had a language school for a while now, but a little over a month ago added a homestay option. What the homestay option offers is full language and culture immersion by living with a Peruvian family. This is a great option for extra language learning beyond what happens in the classroom and gives the opportunity to use Spanish in a real context, every day.
Jeremy and I moved to Peru over a month ago knowing we would be spending our first several months in language school full time, which is four hours a day, one-on-one with a Peruvian language instructor. However, we also knew that we wanted to do a homestay with a Peruvian family to reinforce what we had learned that day and to make us have to use Spanish outside of class. So, when CUDA started offering the homestay option we signed up right away.
I participate in the health team meetings with lots of questions and input but the project that I hope and pray I get to be a part of is in its very beginning stage: the dreaming stage. Truly, it's one of my favorite stages, but not a very informative one. I was encouraged, however, to share my dreams. To show you once again, from a newbie perspective, what it's like to dream and plan and learn to work on Peruvian timing mixed with the big ideas of a new missionary who is in the middle of cultural adjustment with life 'busy-fied' by two small children! As you read, envision with me and join me in prayer for God's hand, his wisdom and guidance to be completely integrated into this project.
As I near the end of my language school experience, I am thankful that we have been able to support CUDA during this process. But I am most grateful for the friendships I have formed as CUDA has done an amazing job with choosing their language teachers. Each of us (Morgans included) have formed friendships with the teachers throughout the past 7-8 months, relationships we will continue to develop throughout our time here.
As mentioned earlier, big changes have come to CUDA with the termination of the cafe. Another development is that Passport Language School is introducing home stays. Home stays are available for those who wish to speed up their language learning by taking classes that are then applied practically by living with Peruvian families. Total immersion is the best way to learn a new language, and CUDA will now be able to offer an even fuller experience toward that end. Perhaps the most exciting part is that home stays will commence with the arrival of the two remaining team couples arriving by the beginning of October!
We have now seen over 200 patients in the Diabetes Program. We have had meetings with the Doctor which has helped us know where we need to steer the program and also has given us a bit more control of the program. We have a very successfully team meeting about ideas, thoughts and procedures. We are excited that Sarah Morgan will be joining us with education programs soon. I have started some new systems to help keep track of patients and follow up with care. We are excited about the progress we are having and are excited for the future. We would love to introduce some friends from the clinic in Hunter that have helped us, had good conversations with and always give us big smiles.
I remember sitting in the library office with Lucia dreaming about what could come for the future of Living Libraries (more than a year ago). We tossed several big ideas around that day, but one that became a reality this past month was an international education campaign that included speakers from the U.S. and Peru. I am excited to share my reflection of this event.
We began Living Libraries because there isn’t a culture of literacy here in Peru. Educators’ opportunities for professional development are few and far between. We start libraries, but one of our biggest goals in Living Libraries is to equip teachers with strategies for the classroom. In the school where we work this year, teachers from each grade level (1-6) attend a once-a-month staff development meeting to discuss the strategy we model throughout the month. I cherish this time with the teachers. It builds our relationships with them, and I know how beneficial the time can be to discuss the strategy as professionals without students present.
While our man power is low, and we can only manage to work with 2-3 schools each year, a door was opened for us to spread professional development to close to 100 teachers. Lucia worked countless hours to make the campaign a reality. She scored a way for us to host the campaign on one of the city’s most esteemed university campuses. She contacted and communicated with several big names in Peruvian education to come and speak at the campaign, along with several professors from the hosting university. It was a wonderful week, and a fantastic first campaign. There were, of course, a few glitches, but if there is something our NGO knows it is “live and learn.” We learned a lot from this first experience.
CUDA is blessed beyond measure to have two of its board members specializing in education. Dr. Clara Carroll and Dr. Ileene Huffard made the long trip to Arequipa to participate in the campaign, check out the Living Libraries in action, and meet with CUDA staff in person. It was an honor to be named their week-long tour guide. It was an absolute blessing for the two of them to see the library this year. The school surprised them with a show of traditional Peruvian story and dance. Both doctors spoke 3 different times in the areas of literacy formation, child development, instructional strategies, and reading comprehension. They were a huge hit with the Peruvian teachers attending the conference. It was an absolute delight to have them share their expertise with many hard-working teachers who don’t have access to new materials in the education field. We were beyond thankful to have them as keynote speakers.
Two other speakers that I really enjoyed meeting were Javier Arevalo and Manuel Herran. Javier is a Peruvian author who started an NGO in Lima called Recreo. His NGO starts libraries in schools, but they have a strong emphasis on parental involvement. We really enjoyed sharing ideas with Javier, and there is potential for an alliance to develop between our two groups in the future. Javier is also responsible for a Peruvian law that was passed for a national reading plan in the public schools. Manuel is a professional story-teller. In his talk, he presented Jim Trelease’s work on the “Read-Aloud.” He tours the country of Peru speaking on behalf of the publishing company, MacMillan. He has agreed to come and tell a story to our school this year the next time MacMillan brings him through Arequipa.
The campaign was every evening (M-F) from 3:30 pm to 7:30 pm. All that attended received a certificate of professional development hours for 120 hours stamped by the ministry of education (these hours also included extra technology and follow-up on the topics presented). Their certificates can be applied toward incentives from the ministry.
For me, the major highlights that came from the campaign were (1) CUDA’s name getting out there; (2) the new relationship that CUDA has with Recreo; and (3) Clara and Ileene seeing the work in person. The final day, a teacher approached me and asked, “When will you all be offering another opportunity like this?” That comment was icing on the cake. Living Libraries will be seeking out other opportunities in the future to help and equip the education professional community of Peru.
My family and I have been in Arequipa for just over 5 months now. During that time, I have accompanied Alfredo and Greg to a nearby pueblo in Mirador to assist in a community develop project that has since fizzled out. Also, I tagged along with Paty and Greg to listen to a business ethics class that our borrowers are required to attend. I have not yet taken the opportunity to be at the school for the library program, but the photos of the excited children provide a good assessment.
For my part, I have been involved primarily with CeDeTe, the center for theological development, as a student. This class is a great foundation for any new Christian or not yet believer. It is also beneficial for our Peruvian church leaders to increase their knowledge and their ability to talk about God.Thus far we have studied the story of Israel within the Hebrew Bible. We are just over half-way through the first trimester. Greg has done a wonderful job instructing, and I am increasing my biblical Spanish vocabulary. Just this week we discussed the covenant God made with David, and Greg pointed out how integral this occasion was for the people of God. In 2 Sam. 7, the prophet Nathan outlines the covenant God is making with David. I only want to point out two important features within this covenant. First in v. 13, God tells David that his son will build a temple and that David’s reign over Israel will continue forever through his descendants. Second in v. 14, God says that He will be a father to Solomon and Solomon will be his son. This language is powerful covenantal language from God who longs to dwell with his people (temple) and have an intimate relationship with them, never removing his love! This type of relationship between God and humanity was was to set in motion Israel’s calling from the days of Abraham to a blessing to all nations! Even in spite of her stubbornness, God, through the monarchy of David, would once again reign over Israel. And what would this kingdom look like? In Psalm 72 David prays for his son’s kingdom and his theme, I think, captures the essence of what CUDA stands for. Here is an adapted portion and may this be our prayer too.
Three or so months into our adventure in the development of a CUDA health program within the city district of hunter and we are slowly building traction.
As it seems with all programs and projects started within a Developing country dictate that all things take a while to ‘develop’. Our presence is growing in the health centre. This is positive and encouraging given the nature of health centres, changes happen frequently and people come and go but people are learning our names and bit by bit we are making connections with all the staff and nutting out ways of collaborating and improving health outcomes. We are currently solely working in the area of Diabetes diagnosis and prevention (which, to be honest is an excellent place to start given the nature of diet and health practices in Arequipa). We fill out simple forms with people and do a simple test to uncover potential diabetes. However by far our most useful and potentially far reaching aspect of our program is Education on nutrition and lifestyle for the prevention of diabetes for which has received very positive reaction from patients. We have currently seen 130 patients and lead to the potential diagnosis of 4 patients (of which we refer to the Doctors in the centre). These are humble beginnings but there are a lot of exciting opportunities to come.