Starting to Build Bathrooms and Defy Local Belief that Obras CAN Happen

Note: I originally wrote this as an e-mail to a former teacher/current friend who contributed and coordinated heavily to my Peace Corps Partnership Project fund for building 22 dry bathrooms in two small rural farming communities. 

Yo Sav,

First off - Happy Dia del Padre compadre.

I wrote awhile back saying I'd have an update for you in the next week or so, but I'm sure you put on your 'International Development timeline' filter, and a week or so translated to how ever long this time span is.    But the good news is here, sir.  We've FINALLY starting on the bathroom project.  Although the Municipal funds are still in limbo, I decided there was no sense waiting when we at least had some of the money (from the Lebo donation).  We made the bulk purchases and picked them up from the distributor with the municipal dump truck last Thursday - enough bricks/rebar/cement for four units.  Our maestro is currently hard at work laying the first concrete slabs - I'll have pictures later in the week (re-activate International Development Timeline filter).  Like a good gringo, I'm there mostly to walk around with a clip board, providing technical support as needed, as well as a few photo ops. 


A Corps in Crisis? Not so fast Charles Kenney

I’ll be the first to admit that Peace Corps has its flaws. And indeed a model based largely on sending 20-something recent college graduates across the world to good seems a bit flawed in this day and age. After all, Peace Corps was started in 1962 – just after the Marshall Plan and when humanitarian aid for development was country to country cash transfer. Sending people abroad to work in communities was a new approach as was community based development. Policy makers still believed in the trickledown effect back then.

But we’re in a different world today. Both the supply and the demand side of Peace Corps has changed. NGOs and humanitarian organizations are sophisticated. In terms of demand, people around the world are becoming more educated and are attending trade schools and universities in greater numbers. Students strive to be engineers, doctors, lawyers etc in the same vein of past generations of Americans. In terms of supply, the humanitarian aid/development field has proliferated with UN agencies, regional INGOs, NGOs and all other kinds of acronyms working at all levels on issues from food security, micro-credit, youth development, and any other subtheme. While there’s still demand for aid organizations, they become less precious when the market expands and gets crowded. There’s a host of other organizations that do programming areas better than Peace Corps. So is Peace Corps even necessary?

How Much Things Cost in Peru

Here’s a non-exhaustive list of how much some stuff costs here in Peru.  This list isn’t a grocery bag list nor can be considered normal purchases in any given time.  Rather, this serves as stuff volunteers might buy at least once in their service as well as to give them an idea of how much some things can cost. Electronics tend to be on the more expensive side and behind the US a generation or two.  Food is cheap, especially sticking to local food.  In sum, it all depends on quality (the bus ride)  and if it’s imported (Peru lunch versus McDonald’s).  The exchange rate used is $1  = S/. 2.80 but the rate can fluctuate anywhere from S/.2.72 – S/. 2.85 as of late.    The table is posted after the jump (aka click on the ‘More’ button right below this)….