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Notes from a humanitarian reconstruction expedition in Pisco, Peru

It was the 4 year anniversary of the earthquake on Monday, which was a good opportunity to reflect on why were all here in pisco, the impact that psf has had over these years and also the sheer scale of work required to improve living conditions in the town for so many people to a humane standard. One volunteer who appropriately goes by the name of Buddha, led a guided meditation session outside the volunteers house for an hour between 6 and 7 to mark the time of the earthquake. This was in memory of those hundreds killed, the thousands of family members and friends left grieving and the thousands more who lost their homes and are still struggling to rebuild and get their lives back on track. Unfortunately as one of the only people in pisco who will pat the scabby street dogs, my involvement was cut a little short when the local dogs noticed me sitting quietly outside.
On a more positive note, Tuesday also marked the 3 year anniversary of psf. This was marked by the opening of ‘tupark’ (an ecological park built by psf in the neighbourhood of tupac amaru inca). This was attended by most volunteers and hundreds of local kids and families. It was great to see the project being so well received, and I think it highlights the impotance of community projects for morale and wellbeing in post disaster areas. The mayor unveiled a plaque on Sunday and there was a great party atmosphere. This had originally been planned to happen on Tuesday evening but there have been some violent protests and rioting in pisco in the evenings recently as a reaction to the lethargic reconstruction process and a presidential visit last week.
The women’s clinic is moving really quickly, the trenches for the foundations had to be dug out manually which took a while, but these are finished and poured, the rebar is all in place for the ground beams and columns and we are finishing placing pipesbefore pouring the ground beam tomorrow. After that well start bricklaying which will take a good few weeks. I will have to leave the project for a few days next week in order to make a border run to either chile or Ecuador to renew my visa, which will expire since I am now staying an aditional 5 weeks. As the project leader I’m working with the supervising engineer most days and I’m happy to find my Spanish is improved enough to avoid staring blankly at him!
I’m really glad to have been given the opportunity to take on more responsibility at psf.I’m learning so much from the project I still very much feel that I’m taking far more from it than I am able to give back.

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