Archive for the 'Peru Projects' Category

Peru House Project – Completed – September 1, 2013

Jon Ross on Sep 10th 2013

 

.

The MicroAid house for the Ormachea-Hermoza family is done!  And I am back from four months in Peru.

.

.

.

It was a big project for us, and a life-changing event for them.

.

.

As you know, the family lost their adobe home in the floods of 2010, and had been living in a shack ever since.

.

.

.

There will be 12 people living in the new house—it has 5 rooms and is 1,400 square feet, with a second-floor foundation, and will withstand any future floods or earthquakes.
.
.
Dozens and dozens in the extended family will benefit from this home.  And our worked helped the community by employing people and injecting much-need cash into the local economy.
.
.
While I was in the town of Urubamba in the Sacred Valley building the house, I posted many pictures to the blog—as well as a profile of the family—and smaller details of working in the southern hemisphere winter at 12,000 feet.  (see posts below)
.

.

The family was very aware that there is a group of donors that made our assistance possible. They often asked to see pictures of everyone.
.
Next time, I will bring pictures of the donors to show them.
.

.
A special thanks to our interpreter Erin O’Rourke for her tireless dedication to the project.  Her presence on the site every day was essential to its success.
.
.
I trust you enjoyed the updates I sent out during my four months in the Peruvian Andes.
.
.
Things may be quiet for a while as I prep the next disaster recovery project—and raise the money.
.
I hope you are happy, healthy, and secure.
.
Thank you for all the support and good wishes.
.
Sincerely,
.
Jon Ross
.

Filed in Peru Projects | Comments Off on Peru House Project – Completed – September 1, 2013

Peru House Project – August 5, 2013

Jon Ross on Aug 5th 2013

 

8-5-2013

All in the Family (part 2)

Our beneficiary family: the Ormachea-Hermozas.  There are twelve who live on the site and dozens of others who will benefit from the home we are building.

The patriarchs, Juana and Valerio got married and set out on a life together.

Valerio was a long-distance truck driver and spent a lot of time away from home. As his young family grew, he eventually saved enough money to build an adobe home (mud bricks) on the banks of the Urubamba river in the poor but happy community of Paca Vilconota on the east end of the town of Urubamba in the Sacred Valley.

As some their daughters married and had kids of their own, and one of their sons married a woman who was visually impaired and, unfortunately, their kids inherited the genetic defect.

granddaughter angela inherited a visual impairment

Valerio got older, which made it hard for him get jobs driving long distances.

valerio helping with the construction

He struggled to find other work, but still supported the clan.  In 2010, the ultimate tragedy struck: the Urubamba River turned into a flooding, ragging torrent that decimated their small community.

All the houses that were made of adobe were destroyed—melted and washed away—including Valerio and Juana’s.  The family of twelve was without a home.  No international organizations rushed in to help (one NGO director told me it was too hard to get materials “up there”), although US-AID donated some tarps.  There was no way the family would ever be able to rebuild, so Valerio and his sons salvaged what materials they could from their ruined home, and other detritus that the river left behind, and built some makeshift sheds and tents.

When I visited in 2012 that was still how they were living.

after we cleared the site of the tents and shacks

In the places MicroAid works, there is no FEMA, no Red Cross, no Habitat for Humanity, no insurance, no other safety nets—no hope.  For Valerio and Juana, MicroAid was the answer to their prayers.

microaid house for the ormachea-hermozas almost done

I am happy we found this family, out of the thousands that needed help.  They are honest and hardworking and have had more than their share of hardships.  MicroAid, supported by our wonderful donors, has returned Juana and Valerio’s family to some comfort, dignity, security, and a relief from the constant stress of living in squalor.

Filed in Peru Projects | Comments Off on Peru House Project – August 5, 2013

Peru House Project – July 22, 2013

Jon Ross on Aug 1st 2013

– YOU ARE VISITING THE MICROAID “BLOG FROM THE FIELD” PAGE –

– TO RETURN TO THE MAIN SITE PLEASE GO TO www.microaidinternational.org OR CLOSE THIS WINDOW-

7-22-13

Country Road Take Me Home

Back at work in the Peruvian mountains in Urubamba in the Sacred Valley.  Feeling healthy, and positive about the project.  In the home stretch, now; less than four weeks, and counting.

wooden forms removed after three weeks

Still freezing cold winter in the Andes, but I moved from my drafty apartment to a nearby hostel, where I now have a comfortable bed, hot water, and relatively good Wi-Fi.  It’s a bit more expensive—about three dollars and fifty cents per day.  Apologies to the MicroAid board members. :0)

dolly llama

I really needed the three-week break.  My time with my friends in Mancora and then visiting Lake Titicaca helped recharge the batteries—literally rest my body and mind, and gain some weight back.  I’m happy to say, too, that I am parasite-free.

I will be uploading more pictures and a bio of the beneficiary family soon.

This house will be life-changing for them, as this experience has been for me.

More from the Sacred Valley later.

Filed in Peru Projects | Comments Off on Peru House Project – July 22, 2013

Peru House Project – July 1, 2013

Jon Ross on Aug 1st 2013

– YOU ARE VISITING THE MICROAID “BLOG FROM THE FIELD” PAGE –

– TO RETURN TO THE MAIN SITE PLEASE GO TO www.microaidinternational.org OR CLOSE THIS WINDOW-

7-1-13

All in the Family

I know I have written mostly about the post-disaster home construction and posted pictures of foundations, columns, and rebar, but I want to emphasize the most important aspect of the MicroAid philosophy: direct involvement with the beneficiary family.  Besides overseeing all aspects of the project until completion, I personally meet the people we help and assess their need and pre-disaster baseline.  They in turn, help with the project.

The Ormachea-Hermoza family (12 in the immediate family live on the site; dozens more will benefit from the house) was one of thousands that lost their home in the floods of 2010, but it was their particular plight that compelled us to build them a new home.  I will post a detailed profile on the blog of this wonderful family soon.

That being said, the second floor/roof concrete pour went very well.  The ceiling beams are now setting up (drying) in their wooden forms—this takes about three weeks.

It was a busy last day, before the break: the cement, sand, and gravel spinning in the mixer as a dozen teenage boys lined-up to get last-minute instructions on how to carry the heavy, wobbly buckets on their shoulder up the rickety ladder to the second floor where they would pour them into the wooden channels then hurry down again… and again… and again.

This went on all day and into twilight, as the mountains surrounding the valley worksite became black silhouettes and the glittering stars came out to shine on the finished second level/roof.

As the exhausted crew enjoyed a huge meal, prepared all-day by the women—pork, potatoes, spaghetti, and cerveza…lots of cerveza—I was led up the ladder where I ceremoniously smashed a bottle of champagne to commemorate the completion of the first and most difficult stage of construction.  The bubbly liquid soaked both my boots which lent an extra chill to the already freezing night.

jon bundled-up against the southern hemisphere winter at 12,000 feet

But nothing could cool the warm feeling of having completed stage-one, the most difficult part, of the Ormachea-Hermoza’s new home.

Now, while visiting friends in the coastal town of Mancora (while the concrete dries) I am thinking about stage-two: doors and windows, and floor, which we should finish by mid-August.

poured concrete - 3 weeks to dry

This is the longest MicroAid project to date, and definitely the biggest home-construction, but I am happy to say that it is going well…

Thank you for your support in helping survivors of disasters the MicroAid way: directly, efficiently, and completely.

Filed in Peru Projects | Comments Off on Peru House Project – July 1, 2013

Peru House Project – June 2013

Jon Ross on Jul 11th 2013

– YOU ARE VISITING THE MICROAID “BLOG FROM THE FIELD” PAGE –

– TO RETURN TO THE MAIN SITE PLEASE GO TO www.microaidinternational.org OR CLOSE THIS WINDOW-

Poverty is not Picturesque

I spend a lot of time in impoverished areas—ones that have also experienced disasters—so the neighborhoods where I do projects are not usually considered “pretty.”

the view from our new rooftop

no mini-warehouse to store things

part of the old house

A traveler I met in Ethiopia once remarked, “poverty is not picturesque.”  I agree, but often the surrounding areas are quite scenic.  I thought I’d share some images from my daily walk to and from work here in Urubamba in the Sacred Valley of Peru.  I purposely chose to rent a room a 40 minute-walk away from the project site so I could get some exercise every day.

We work from 7 a.m. until 6 p.m. so the morning and evening walks give me a time for private reflection, as well.

Here are some of the sights I see along my route to work:

15,000-foot snowcapped mountains rise above the town of urubamba

the street where you buy food for your llama

after 20 minutes walking in the cold, sometimes i debate whether to take a moto-taxi

the blue wall - half way to work

other people going to work at 6 a.m.

monesterio san agustin

just outside of town - inca-trail guides cleaning their equipment, and themselves

how could such a beautiful river destroy so many lives - rio vilcanota behind our house

arriving at work

looking back from the site

on the way home, i might stop and get a snack in town

deep-fried sweet potato- and pumpkin-flour doughnuts with fig syrup - picarones - yum

lots of moto-taxis ("motos") in asia they call them tuk-tuks. half motorcycle, half pinball machine

moto-taxis ("motos") are called tuk-tuks in asia. half motorcycle, half pinball machine

Filed in Peru Projects,Peru Travel Log | Comments Off on Peru House Project – June 2013

Travel Log – Peru – June 2013

Jon Ross on Jul 11th 2013

– YOU ARE VISITING THE MICROAID “BLOG FROM THE FIELD” PAGE –

– TO RETURN TO THE MAIN SITE PLEASE GO TO www.microaidinternational.org OR CLOSE THIS WINDOW-

MicroAid in the Macro World

Here at MicroAid we are committed to being as environmentally conscious as possible; even on a personal level I attempt to generate zero plastic waste.  I bring my own bags to the market and do not buy water in plastic bottles.

I use a SteriPen to purify water from the local tap.  Not only does it save the environment, but it saves money too.  It purifies water using ultra-violet light, and has become one of the most essential items in my travel kit.

Filed in General MicroAid Updates,Peru Projects,Peru Travel Log,Sponsors | Comments Off on Travel Log – Peru – June 2013

Peru House Project – June 26, 2013

Jon Ross on Jun 26th 2013

– YOU ARE VISITING THE MICROAID “BLOG FROM THE FIELD” PAGE –

– TO RETURN TO THE MAIN SITE PLEASE GO TO www.microaidinternational.org OR CLOSE THIS WINDOW-

Living La Vida Loca

After two months in Peru, I think I’ve come to accept the fact that I am not just visiting to do a quick project, I am living here.  I figure, if I’m renting two apartments (the one below shares a compound with an orphanage in Urubamba) in a country for more than an entire season, and I go to the market everyday to buy food, and know people in the street, I think that qualifies as “living.”  Of course, my Spanish is getting just good enough so I can make myself misunderstood.

my second floor apartment in urubamba

I have stopped thinking that I can maintain a close continuity with my life in the U.S. during my absence, but I look forward to resuming my routines and my friendships when I return.

The project is going well—the walls are up and the wood forms for the beams in place—and I feel strong, even though I continue to deal with persistent and tenacious intestinal parasites.  (Ah, the pleasures of working in the field.)  And I had to extend my return date till August 19th so that I can complete the project.  That has always been part of the MicroAid plan: stay till the project is done.

There will be three weeks down-time at the beginning of July, while the ceiling-beam concrete dries.  I will head to Mancora on the north coast and visit my friends there and surf.  Better than watching concrete dry.  :0)  When I return to Urubamba, we will remove the wood forms, finish the walls, plaster the inside, stucco the outside, pour the floor, and install the doors and windows.  (That big wall in the background is not part of our house.)

It feels strange to miss the northern hemisphere summer—we just had the winter solstice here.  The solstice is a big reason to celebrate the return of the sun and the longer days in the towns in the Sacred Vallley and the Inca-Quechua-Spanish culture—lots of interesting festivals, but freezing temperatures—at night, especially—11,000 feet in the mountains. (Above, a potato competition in the country where they invented the tuber—2,300 varieties.)

As I type, I am sitting at the worksite in an overcoat, with a hat pulled down over my ears.  My gloves are off as I type this draft—to be sent later when I have Internet—but my fingers are getting numb.  More later after the thaw.

Filed in Peru Projects,Peru Travel Log | Comments Off on Peru House Project – June 26, 2013

Peru House Project – June 20, 2013

Jon Ross on Jun 23rd 2013

– YOU ARE VISITING THE MICROAID “BLOG FROM THE FIELD” PAGE –

– TO RETURN TO THE MAIN SITE PLEASE GO TO www.microaidinternational.org OR CLOSE THIS WINDOW-

Another Brick in the Wall

Things continue to move forward with our disaster recovery project in Peru.  The Ormachea-Hermoza home now has walls and we are preparing to pour the concrete ceiling beams and roof.

you have to keep the concrete wet for seven days so that it cures correctly

At that point, we will have to wait three weeks to remove the wooden forms.  There was much debate as to whether we needed to let them cure for a full 28 days—the time it takes for concrete to completely dry—but after consulting with my construction experts in the U.S., we all agreed (including the local builder) that three weeks would be adequate and safe.  During that time, I will visit friends in Mancora, on Peru’s northern coast.  Better than watching concrete dry.  :0)

I have extended my trip to accommodate the schedule so that I can be here to see the project to completion.  That is part of the MicroAid strategy—which differentiates us from other recovery organizations—we stay till the project is done.

the column foundations are 1.2 meters deep

People appreciate being able to say that they support and organization that helps survivors of disasters in a direct, efficient, and complete manner.  I oversee every aspect of a project and make sure every penny is accounted for.

snow in the mountains from the site - 15,000 feet

Personally, I am extremely pleased; although it’s strange to be missing the northern hemisphere summer—it was the winter solstice, here, recently—but it’s beautifully crisp and cold here at 11,000 feet in the Andes.

The solstice is a big event in these towns in the Sacred Vallley and the Inca-Quechua-Spanish culture—lots of interesting festivals.  But freezing temperatures—at night, especially—11,000 feet in the mountains.  As I type, I am sitting at the worksite in overcoat, with a hat pulled down over my ears.  My gloves are off as I type this draft—to be sent later when I have Internet-—but my fingers are getting numb. More late, after the thaw.

Filed in Peru Projects | Comments Off on Peru House Project – June 20, 2013

Peru House Project – Shout Out

Jon Ross on Jun 23rd 2013

– YOU ARE VISITING THE MICROAID “BLOG FROM THE FIELD” PAGE –

– TO RETURN TO THE MAIN SITE PLEASE GO TO www.microaidinternational.org OR CLOSE THIS WINDOW-

Erin

A complete oversight all this time: I have neglected to mention Erin O’Rourke, an expat American living and teaching English in Urubamba.

with angela

She directed us to our worthy beneficiary family, and has been our MicroAid interpreter since my preliminary fact-finding trip last year.  Erin knew that the Ormachea-Hermoza family had lost their adobe home in the floods of 2010 and had been living in tents and shacks ever since.  That introduction, her language skills, and her patience have proved invaluable to us and especially to the family.

winter solstice - sunset over the andes

The fate of life that leads MicroAid to survivors of disasters is truly remarkable.  Our heartfelt thanks to Erin for her help!

Filed in General MicroAid Updates,Peru Projects,Peru Travel Log | Comments Off on Peru House Project – Shout Out

Peru House Project – June 12, 2013

Jon Ross on Jun 13th 2013

– YOU ARE VISITING THE MICROAID “BLOG FROM THE FIELD” PAGE –

– TO RETURN TO THE MAIN SITE PLEASE GO TO www.microaidinternational.org OR CLOSE THIS WINDOW-

6-11-13

The Ormachea-Hermoza home construction is going great.  The foundation is finished and we are preparing to pour the columns.

It was an exciting moment when we removed the wood forms from around the concrete base.

The footprint of the house was clearly visible.

marc fitting the wood form around a column

That gave the project a sense of reality and inevitability—no turning back, full steam ahead.

up we go

I marked the occasion by buying the crew a few big bottles of beer—the celebratory elixir of choice among construction workers the world over—and joined them for a traditional Peruvian round of drinking (even though I don’t drink beer.)  Sitting in a circle, using one glass, each guy pours himself a glass, then passes the bottle to the next guy while he downs the beer in one gulp.  No lingering, no sipping—pour a glass, chug it, hand the glass to the next person until whatever it is you are drinking, no matter the quantity, is gone.

the maestro pouring chicha

Cheers to that!

Filed in Peru Projects | Comments Off on Peru House Project – June 12, 2013