July 6, 2010
How can We Help Pamplona Alta?
Lima is a city surrounded by hills which in many cases house the poorest of the poor. These are people who have come from the provinces, sometimes to escape violence related to the Shinning Path, a Marxist group in that country. The people live in shacks and without running water. There is some electricity, but it comes from an informal network of wires that people have added on to randomly and, aside from being extremely dangerous, it has very low wattage. Huge water trucks lumber up and down the steep sandy streets bringing non-drinkable water which is stored in barrels in front of the houses. I’ve watched these trucks do controlled slides down the steep streets.
On my last trip to Lima I visited this zone a fourth and fifth time. Every time I’ve gone there all I have done is just walk around and maybe show the place to a traveling companion. This time, I finally went there and was able to talk to connect with the people. I took a large professional looking camera to take pictures in hopes of raising some support for a future something. No concrete ideas, just responding to a need to do something. The camera was the thing that broke the ice. People seemed to think that I was there for a special purpose (probably they thought I was a journalist) and they opened up and spoke to me about themselves. The kids absolutely loved the digital replay screen of the pictures. I would take one and then they would crowd around to see themselves in it. Some of the adults were more shy about pictures.
I was with Reynaldo Rubio, a local pastor, and we met a couple women who were very upfront about the needs there and wanted help. One of them was the social chairman of her area. I’m not exactly clear about what that means, but it seemed like an important position and connection. I asked what kind of helps we might provide for the area, and clarified that I was interested in the kind of help that would make a lasting difference, not just an activity that comes and goes and leaves nothing permanent behind. I suggested for example, classes for kids or young people on trades. For example, where you show them how to do some carpentry or how electricity works, or (inspired by Born into Brothels) photography. She agreed enthusiastically that this was a good approach, not so much for the actual things taught, but to open up the kids’ horizons so that they could see that the works is bigger than the situation they are in.
Here are some pictures. Help me pray about what can be done for this area.