Last Sunday the primary presidential elections were held. Out of the five leading candidates, one of the two with the highest number of votes will go on to be elected president in June. Ollanta Humala and Keiko Fujimori were the two candidates with the highest votes. Ollanta Humala is a leftist, former military man who is friends with Venezuela’s Hugo Chavez. Ollanta says that he will implement a curfew in order to help cut down on violence and delinquency. Keiko Fujimori is daughter of former president Alberto Fujimori who is currently serving multiple, concurrent prison sentences for human rights abuses and corruption. The fear is that Keiko will pardon her father if elected president. If you want to read a little more about Keiko, check out this article. How did these two candidates end up on top? Well, it is at least partially due to the bribery that is used by the candidates throughout their campaign. In Chimbote alone, families were given pots and pans, rice cookers, bread and money for pledging their support. Candidates have also been known to pay to have roads paved, street signs installed and other public works carried out. One thing I can say with 100% certainty: the next couple months will be interesting.
For the past two weeks, we have been holding workshops in Cambio Puente. For each workshop, we invited ten moms from the sector we had selected for that week. The goal is to eventually have all the moms attend a workshop. The focus of these workshops was nutrition, but we also included early childhood stimulation, education on safe drinking water, family planning information, anemia education and a discussion about respiratory infections and diarrhea. It would be an understatement to say that I was overwhelmed the first week. I was thrown into the workshop with little knowledge of what was going on and still halfway in vacation-mode. The first workshop felt unorganized and chaotic. This past week, however, was about a million times better. We sat down as a team at the beginning of the week to talk about the whole plan for the workshop—something that should have been done in the beginning, but better late than never, I suppose. I also had another nurse to work with who helped translate from ‘Cathleen Spanish’ into ‘normal Spanish’ when the moms gave me that look that said “whaaat??”. The confidence I had lost in the first week of workshops came back as I realized that I really had not lost any of my Spanish in my two weeks of vacation and that I still do know what I am talking about when it comes to health topics. I think we all have those moments when we doubt our skills and during that first workshop, I forgot how to cover up my own doubts.
Along with the workshops, we also brought in an agricultural engineer to talk to our families and some of the staff of the local schools about starting their own vegetable gardens. We are starting this project in just one sector and then hoping to spread it out through the rest of the community. Our goal with the engineer is that he will help these families to find nutritive, inexpensive crops with a year-round harvest.
A big thanks goes out to the Sprangers family this week. Thank you for all the sugar cookies, pool parties, giggles and continued support throughout the years. I feel very blessed to have you all in my life!