So it’s the end of Empower week 2 and we’ve got lots to tell! I have spoken to the group, now known as ‘team Papaya,’ and here are some thoughts and reflections on what we have been up to so far….

Pamela, our specialist in monitoring and evaluation, is excited about starting the placement, but also guilty as her daughter is missing her. Her most challenging moment so far has been her daughter begging her to come home, and not being able to give her a hug. A small consolidation has been enjoying getting to know everyone and discovering a mutual love of culture and cakes! When asked what she has learnt so far, Pamela responded “The recent history of Peru in terms of its politics has been my biggest learning curve.”

Working on visual media within the group is Georgie, who is very excited to be here and to have been welcomed by the knowledgeable, friendly and organised in country staff. Since arriving she has learnt a tremendous amount including about Progressio and its development projects, Peru itself, and how to make the most of working abroad for a short period of time.  In response to ‘what has been the best part so far?’ Georgie replied “The best part was travelling to Villa el Salvador in anticipation of what was to come, especially with the challenge of language barriers.”

The Faith liaison of the group, Imtiyaz, is very glad to have finally arrived, and to be learning about aspects of Peruvian politics, society, culture and economics. Excitedly he also remarked “I think I’ve made real progress with Spanish too.” His favourite part so far has been exploring Lima, and generally conversing with the excellent in country staff Cesar and Marienela, as well as the other guest speakers.

Semhar, in charge of liaising within the community, is excited about finally starting the project! She has enjoyed learning about Peruvian history and Spanish, and has found finding out details about what she will be doing on her placement and visiting the historical sights of Lima some of the best parts of the journey so far. The most challenging thing so far for Semhar has been communicating in Spanish; however she feels that with time this can be improved upon. When asked to sum up her experience so far, she remarked “Although I have only been here 2 weeks I am excited about what the next 8 weeks will hold.”

Our very own group media specialist Bridget, said “During the training we’ve had quite a bit of time to get to know each other and everyone seems really enthusiastic and wanting to make a real, sustainable impact; which is exciting!” She has personally been interested in the speakers and development workers in Peru that came to talk to the group during the orientation, and feels we would not have been as well informed about the history of Peru if it were not for them.

Especially interested in ‘The Shining Path,’ still a difficult memory for Peruvians alive today, Bridget feels the group has benefited from receiving such a personal and in-depth insight. Bridget states she feels lucky to have had this insight that we may not have had otherwise. One of the best moments for Bridget has been helping Maria-one of the children who visits the host home often - with her English homework and helping her with her pronunciation, whilst the most challenging moment has been “being screamed at by a five year old with a very high pitched voice in Spanish!”  When asked if she has any other comments about the experience so far, she states “Note to self: pack warmer clothes in the future!”

The group’s Spanish interpreter Adam, is excited to participate in all of the projects, and really looking forward to getting started. He has learnt a lot about Peru, its political situation, history and about the problems people face concerning environmental issues, health and poverty. In addition, his Spanish is also slowly improving, learning more each day.

When asked what he has found the most challenging aspect so far, Adam replied “I think the session on human right violations was probably the most interesting and most challenging at the same time. It was interesting to learn about the political situation and how it contributed to the suffering of the people.” To sum up his experience so far, Adam added, “So far my experience in Peru has been exceptional. Thanks to this project I am able to learn about the country and explore its culture through interactions with the local people.  Even though it’s been only 2 weeks since we arrived, I already feel like I want to come back in the future.”

As for me, Hazel, the group leader, I am very proud of the groups enthusiasm and efforts so far. At the end of the second week we already have a news letter circulating, weekly Spanish lessons (including a test!), lots of photos being taken, media ready to go at any moment, and the faith and community liaison preparing events within the community.

I am really looking forward to starting the placements and am grateful for the in-depth orientation we have received. The in country staff, Marianela and Cesar, are doing a great job of supporting and training us, and it was a very surreal moment to have them waving the Progressio banner when we arrived at the airport! To sum up my experience so far, I would have to say that I am grateful to be here supporting such a well-rounded group of individuals who are so excited about what we can achieve in the following weeks. It is my first time in Peru, and I have enjoyed every second! Attached is our favorite picture so far, taken in down town Lima!

Saludos a todos,

Hazel, Pamela, Georgie, Imtiyaz, Bridget, Adam and Semhar

You can download a copy of the group's newsletter by clicking here.