Each of these posts was written by different members of the Reach Out Volunteer team. It has been an enriching experience for me capturing their work, travels and experiences for our film and pleasure to have gotten to know them a bit.
The train ride back from Machu Picchu was bitter sweet. I was happy to be heading back to Cusco and to get caught up on my correspondence… but I knew that I may never again get the opportunity to visit all the amazing places that we had been too. These posts will be a lasting memory of those days. Posts for Day 1 through 3 have already been put to my facebook, but are also available on the wordpress site.
We are on our final 2 days of the 14 day journey… today we visit an animal rescue center, an artisan center that fabricates silver jewelry and a baby alpaca factory for tapestries and textiles.
Yesterday Yieber and I had a meeting with a local representative from an NGO in the United States. They don’t have an office here in Peru but when donations are made and specified to be spent here in Peru they process that request and distribute the funding.
Since we have starting filming our documentary we have heard many pleas for help. The small school we visited in Patabamba needs books, computers, teaching aids and money for nutritional food.
In the same small village high in the Andes, the women’s weaving council needs help to sell their textiles. They asked for assistance to set up a website and marketing tools, need help with training and technolgy to be competative in todays marketplace, not to mention supplies for the actual products.
When we visited a school in Lamay we saw firsthand how small contributions, well-managed, can effect huge change. The children in that community were healthy, happy and well on their way to receiving a good education. A few of the children even practiced their english and french with me.
It’s been difficult going into areas that are so poverty-stricken and not being able to help. Sometimes just a small amount of money can turn around an entire community. Upgrading the irrigation system for the farmers, providing books for the schools, seeds for nutritional crops, chimneys in kitchens to reduce asthma, respiratory illness and even cancer… all simple and cost-effective solutions that dramatically improve the quality of living for families living in remote regions.
I know that a lot of people are reluctant to give to causes without the benefit of receiving a tax receipt or having the assurance that the money will actually be going to the right place. For this reason we are investigating setting up a registered society (NGO)
We’d love your feedback on this idea since it is a challenging process, time-consuming and expensive. If we build it, will you participate?
If you want to sponsor our film, and you’re not worried about a tax receipt, there are many ways you can do this now. Donate your airmiles, (travel is an expense that is robbing our budget) provide financial help either through GoFundMe or direct email transaction, share our blog or aid us in the real production. (create graphics, write music, do research, voice-over, editing, PR, write press releases…etc)
We’re heading to the highlands again tomorrow to meet with a community leader and arrange for a donation of shoes for all the children. I’ll be posting some video of that adventure in a few days.
When I started planning this documentary back in April, I had a pretty good idea of the story I wanted to tell. I knew that there was a recurring theme around the world and I decided to film people who were attempting to live sustainable alternative lifestyles. It seems there’s been an awakening of sorts… people are beginning to realize that we can no longer sustain ourselves and keep our planet healthy by continuing to use methods employed in the past half a century.
I thought about the indigenous people in Canada, in North America, and partially credited them with preserving what little pristine land we had left. There could likely have been pipelines running all over the continent if not for their actions, (along with activists and concerned citizens) to halt the agressive devastation caused by the so called, industrial powerhouses. I was certain that many of those First Nations were living below the poverty level and I imagined the same was true all over the world.
But does not having money really make you poor?
After spending nearly a month in Peru I have discovered that the indigenous peoples are just as impovershed, just as disadvantaged but just as fierce in their efforts to maintain their traditions and return to the ancient ways. Sure, they have electricity, and many have cell phones, but they have recognized that we need to respect and protect mother earth or we’re all headed down a very dark path.
I have listened to their stories and heard their call for help. Now it’s my duty to share that information with the world. I have been forced to change course and subject matter for the film, just was we need to change the way we live.
One of the things that has been knawing away at me since my arrival in Peru is the amount of plastic being used. Plactic bags, bottles, dishes… it seems in direct contradiction to their goals to achieve a healthier planet. High atop the mountains are piles of garbage displaying a rainbow of plastic… blue, green, yellow and if you look closely you can see the clear bottles which somehow missed the recycling pile.
Kudos to the city of San Francisco for becoming the first city in America to ban the sale and use of single serving plastic bottles! There are bans in some national parks aready and also at some Universities, but this is the first US city to make such a move.
Rowanda banned plastic bags in 2012 and is now one of the cleanest countries in Africa. Banning plastic bags and bottles is a small step, but it’s definately going in the right direction.
Plastic is killing us, and the earth!
Please consider buying a refillable water bottle and using cloth shopping sacs and alternatives like mason jars for storing foods. We managed for thousands of years without the use of plastic, we can manage again.
A global shift is occuring… be an active part in it!
I´m excited to share important news that became official today. The Peruvian Government has declared Sierra del Divisor a National Park which is protecting 1.3 million hectares (3.3 million acres) The deal was almost 10 years in the making but was announced on Friday with the documents officially inked today.
Since my arrival in Peru I have been made aware of the many hardships of the Indigenous people. Of great concern are a group of uncontacted tribes that live within the parks´ boundaries.
The diversity both of plants and wildlife in this area is HUGE and protecting this region benefits not only Peru but the rest of the world. The area harbors many endangered species.
Announcing the declaration in time for the Climate talks in Paris he says…
“The creation of the Sierra del Divisor National Park is a historic event, It is a confirmation of the Peruvian government’s commitment to conservation, sustainable development and the fight against climate change.”
Today as we continue to review the footage from Day One and Two, I am reminded of the beauty and innocence of the children of Richard’s village. Here is a picture of a mother escorting her child to school. Few of these children have been exposed to the big city and even fewer have seen foriegners. Richard has two daughters, the eldest is 5 and attends kindergarten. She she is dressed in her traditional clothing.The younger daughter is only two but speaks Quechan very well and is a bright and sensitive child. She was very shy around me, probably because I looked so different than anyone she was used to.
Richard’s eldest daughter was eager to show me how she could weave (braid) as well. She was fascinated with the camera and was much more confident than her little sister.
Yesterday was a great day because we had many unexpected surpirses. Today we are reviewing the footage of the past 4 days… a complicated task because everything is in a language that I don’t understand. We have over 1,000 photos so far and I do understand them. Like they say, a picture is worth a 1,000 words. So today instead of a big story, I will share some images from Patabamba.
In the morning, the women move the livestock to the pasture land. They use the wool from the Laamas and sheep for making textiles.
We tried to speak with the president of the village but he refused to give us his time. At first we were dissapointed but instead we headed to the school to see about interviewing someone there. The principal, Juana Sulema Carrasco Cruz, was more than happy to share her time with us and gave us fantastic insight into the local community and the problems there.
This was the grade 3 classroom. Major problems at the school are, limited supplies, no library, one computer for the entire school, very few books. Problems for the children are, absent parents (they must work out of town and are often gone overnight) poor nutrition, no money for uniforms, unequal financial status (some families are self sufficient while others live in extreme poverty).
Some of the young girls end up having babies are welcome to bring them to school. They bring them into the classes with them.
We noticed a huge gap in abilities when Yieber was teaching the older boys how to play a new card game. Simple skills like following directions, remembering rules, number sequences and manipulating the cards in hand were very difficult for some of these boys. It was nice to see them support and cooperate with each other. No one shamed another for poor play… they were cheerful and having fun!
The Kindergarten was in a separate location. Getting an early start is crucial to their success but not always available to every child.
The women of Patabamba are fully aware of the problems in their community and have banded together to form a council that meets each week. They share a meal, teach each other spinning and weaving techniques and plan stategies to help bring their families back to the traditional ways.
These women have little or no education and zero access to technology (computers or internet) but, they know that to succeed they must assimilate into todays society. They asked us to help put them in contact with tour companies and people who can buy their products. They are determined to create a better life for their families and we’re going to do what we can to make that vision a reality.
Today we will head into the highlands to a small town of traditional weavers (tejedores de la vida – Weavers of Life) where we will learn about their process for creating beautiful fabrics and artwork.
Traditional bags take weeks to produce for each one. The Quechan name is Ch’uspas (sounds like juice pass)
We will also speak with local porters who must suppliment their incomes by carrying goods for tourists along the Incan trails.
Yieber and I spent most of the day yesterday trying to sort out the many details of our film before our first day of shooting on November 2nd. It was a long but productive day and in the end we managed to squeeze, 11 main locations into the next 2 months of filming. We´re going to have many challenges…
Lack of power to charge batteries for camera and sound equipment
We have to carry everything on our backs
Remote locations that can only be reached by 4×4, boat, walking or flight
Language barriers, (well… Yieber speaks all three languages, English, Spanish & Quechan, but I will have absolutely no idea what our interview subjects will be saying)
Unlimited topics to cover… there are so many people, places and subjects we want to include!
Limited time in each location
Limited hard disk space
We´re up for the challenge though and we invite you to come along for the ride (or trek in many cases)
We´d love to hear your input and feedback on this project so please comment and share this blog with your friends and family. If you don´t hear from us for a few days it´s because we´re off the beaten path and have no access to internet.