One of my greatest fears about development work is making the mistakes of generations before me. There is really no way to apologize for colonialism and imperialism. There is no way to apologize for the mass murder of cultures and societies in the name of development. Now, I’m not naïve enough to think I have some kind of special power that could change the way Peru exists as we know it, but isn’t it the small deaths that lead to the bigger ones. If I just took the full responsibility of the CAID for the next year and a half and then watched the doors close after four years of Peace Corps intervention, would that be a small death or just me being “overly-dramatic”? Or would it be better to walk away from the work right now, and not enable the irresponsibility of others (not that they are irresponsible in all areas of their lives, just in this organization)? And after nine months in country, I have very little to show for my time.
The above sounds so pessimistic; and I honestly don’t feel pessimistic. I feel realistic. Like now is the time of my journey to take a serious look at what I’m doing and why I’m doing it. I am making so me very strong friendships that I would honestly miss if I left tomorrow. The other day I was returning from Llamapampa (a local caserio – 45 minute walk) with my “mama” in Catilluc and it was starting to lightly rain. Now Mama Casilda (as I call her) is no spring chicken. She must be in her 50’s at least (which in this culture makes you look much older than you are), but we started to run. I was surprised by this behavior because I don’t think I’ve seen a Peruvian run yet. But Mama Casilda has this giggle that is infectious, and I found myself running and giggling with her in the rain. Every time I eat with them (which is very frequently as my host family is nowhere to be found) she insists that I need to eat more. Of course usually one plate of plain white rice is plenty sufficient, but I find myself trying to please her because she’s so sweet. Of course I’m gaining weight because of it, but it doesn’t matter at this point. Weight can always be lost, but I would never want to lose her respect especially over a measly plate of rice. Little by little I’m learning new things about myself. Little by little I’m finding that I can be content even in difficult situations. And little by little I see rays of sunshine in this very rainy time of year and time in my work.
Mama Casilda with a sheep head. I love her laugh, and we laughed a lot this day as well.