So after almost a year of wait, the departure for Peru is waiting for me! On January 7th, 2016 I took the flight towards the experience of the life, the one that I was looking for and for which I fought tooth and nail. I left Italy with a lot of curiosity, the strongest hugs ever received from my family and friends on my skin, the desire to travel the world and within myself, and to get to know a completely different reality from the one where I always used to live. But no fear, I’ve been waiting for too long! I landed in Lima, heedless of the fact that the real journey was about to begin. After 18 hours of flights and scales, another day and a half of various buses and a night in Trujillo waiting for me; Trujillo is the second biggest city of Peru, and it is only 5 hours trip from Huamachuco, my final destination. At the end, the journey from Lima to Huamachuco lasted longer than that from Italy to Peru. But it is fine, in only one day and a half I would have been thrown into the Peruvian reality in Lima and Trujillo. I can now finally experience the Latin culture.
The first thing that draws my attention is the traffic and congestion that characterize Lima, just out from the airport I took a taxi to reach my project coordinator. The taxi driver, Juan, is a nice guy and very helpful, but the traffic in Lima spares no one. There are no columns of machines or roadways, all the cars flock like funnel, cutting the road carelessly, trying to pass as soon as possible in what resembles to a race for survival. Then, I will understand with time that traffic is a constant in all the medium/big cities in Peru and it is almost impossible to find a car that hasn’t been involved in at least a minor collision.
After several hours of travel, I got to my final destination: Huamachuco. This little town in the Andes with about 50,000 inhabitants (not counting the dogs, they constitute a population on their own) has undergone in the last 15 years to an unprecedented economic development, due to the presence of the mine and consequent environmental and social contamination that many people still try to ignore. Despite this, the peasant reality (la realidad campesina) still resists, with its fields, colors, sombreros, animals, simplicity and smiles. Houses in Huamachuco are very different among them. The town center is enriched by the presence of a huge square, now fenced because under renovation; all the locals are really proud of it. The houses are colorful, with small balconies overlooking the square.
However, leaving the urban area, where the poorest neighborhoods begins, most houses are built using a typical red earth, very widespread, colored by shades of red, rosé and made of exposed bricks; no trace of plaster on the walls.
The market is perhaps the most bustling area and active throughout Huamachuco; there you can find everything, absolutely everything from the trucha (a typical fish of the lagoon), to clothing, live chickens, magic healing potions etc.
Proyecto Amigo is the place where I work and at the same time my home; it is also home for many children who can not wait to start their daily activities. It’s a great building with classrooms, a library, a dining room, accommodations, the volunteers’ house and a large courtyard where at the beginning of the activities we get together with the children and where they play during breaks. There are also a bakery, where they produce bread, cakes and pizzas (delicious, and for the pizza I help them once a week) and a carpentry service, where they work the wood. Looking this building from outside, it seems that it stands on everything because the walls are covered with many colorful graffiti depicting the children, the nature, and the rights that should be recognized to everyone.
Proyecto Amigo is an organisation operating for more than 20 years here in Huamachuco, and that campaigns within civil society in different contexts, but always in support of the rights and giving voice of those who cannot speak up. Proyecto Amigo mainly develops projects with working children and children who come from difficult situations and families living on the poverty line. When I arrived, they were just starting the “Vacaciones Utiles” (useful vacations). During these special summer holidays, about a hundred children attended the center Proyecto Amigo, deepening school subjects, as well as the knowledge of their rights, playing, attending lectures that aim to develop their manual skills, teamwork and interpersonal relationship. The situation is not easy but one cannot imagine the strength that all these children can show and transmit, as well as the the dreams they have in their head. Proyecto Amigo is part of the national network of NATs, “niños y adolescentes trabajadores”, and of the Muqui national network which advocates for the defense and promotion of human rights, with particular attention to women’s rights. It works with various associations in order to raise awareness on the issue of legal and illegal mining in Peru, cooperating in the realization of certified and recognized analysis of water in order to provide some evidence of the harmful effects that this activity often causes, bringing damage to the environment and especially to the health of people who work there.
It is a world of people, colors, melodies, scents, flavors
It is contradictions around every corner
It is poverty and richness in the same house
It is the smile and the children’s strength
It is a journey into yourself
It is the possibility to realize how lucky I’ve always been
It is facing your greatest fears
It is getting to know how to handle it by yourself
It is loving people and people with a great heart
It is feeling at home
It is feeling lonely
It is dreaming for a better future
It is feeling responsible for yourslef and for others
It is getting out from your own little world where you feel safe
It is awareness
It is an adventure in nature
It is knowing how to ride the waves
It is to get to the highest point ever reached
It is eating ceviche like there’s no tomorrow
It is the lack of home