Monday, February 27, 2012

How did the world get so screwed up?

Sometimes my life seems so unreal, as I go bouncing between 2 realities. Working in an institute where I teach high class professionals and their children (apart from the classes of scholarship students who go to public schools) has taught me one crucial thing: the people here are even colder than the people I know in Canada. Most of the people I know in Canada are involved with some charitable organization, and although more than often it´s fighting cancer or numerous other diseases and not international aid (apart from the hugely popular sponser an african child organizations) the thing is that people seem to actually care about others.Now, I don´t want to shed all rich Peruvians in the same light because there are some that do some good things but from what I see the aid from the general public is much less. In fact, if it weren´t for some of the university students it would be appalling. When I teach my classes, at least once a week I bring up one of the various social problems in Cajamarca and listen to the responses from my students. One of my 16 yr olds told me she simply didn´t care and tuned out. The ignorance is another problem, I have had students tell me that in Cajamarca there are no drugs, no gangs, and no problems with illiteracy. That is not funny, that is a serious problem and you have to ask yourself if people are blind. At least in developed countries you can walk around many parts of a city like Brandon and not actually encounter any obvious signs of gangs, drugs, or poverty. I can´t walk anywhere here without being reminded that firstly I am a woman and secondly since I am white I am quite clearly rich and thus become a target for beggars. The sad truth is, if you really want to have a discussion you have to talk to the ACCESS program students or professional, well educated adults (I feel the need to use both words because there seem to be some really ignorant professionals around- but then you can pay off many teachers here so don´t be surprised). I know I am rambling but I can´t stop. The thing that really gets on my nerves is the snobbiness. One of my teenage students was saying how there were no jobs and I told her I had seen lots of people advertising for cleaners (almost all rich or middle-class people have maids). Apparently that was a really funny and ridiculous statement. They don´t believe me when I tell them that in my first year of uni I cleaned people´s houses. The worst thing is that César´s sister worked as a maid before she had the baby making 150 soles a month. That is about 50 dollars people, or 35 pounds. Sound good to you? The minimum wage here is 600 soles- about $220, which still sucks but at least you can live on that here, whereas living on 50 bucks basically means you live in a hole, literally. I can´t believe that people are so cold as to pay somebody so little to do the chores that they don´t want to do. I could never imagine having a maid in the first place, but if I did have one I´d be sure to pay her (since men don´t do this job) well. It´s a matter of respect! Once a lady told me I should get someone to clean my house for a couple of hours because it only costs 2-3 dollars and then I would have more time but I think that is just disgusting. Also I think we are more than capable of cleaning our space. I want to note that apart from being selfish most of my students are lovely people and I do enjoy teaching them and am grateful to gain such valuable experience at my age. Hopefully little by little I will be able to change their frames of mind. Another option which some of my new family does is wash cars for which you can earn up to 400 soles a month which also sucks.
Anyway, when I am not a work I hop back into my other world which is my new family. In the picture you can see César´s mum in the clinic with cousin Elsa. It was taken yesterday and after being hit by a car and having had a stroke she is now talking coherently which is wonderful although today her 18,000 soles of insurance ran out (in just over two weeks) so we had to talk to the company responsible for the accident and their insurance will cover the next part. She is still dependent on her oxygen though so she can´t leave yet although she wants to, she also doesn´t know that she can´t walk and will need a wheelchair. Elsa (16) is looking after her and we have a plan where César´s mum will live with Elsa and her older 26 yr old sister when she gets out, in a place we will rent out for them on the condition that they go back to finish elementary and high school. Hopefully their younger sister will follow them and start going to school too. The whole seriousness of the illiteracy topic has suddenly become relatable to my everyday life. We also went to visit the baby yesterday, her name is Maricielo and not Alejandra which I am assured is a girl´s name even though it sounds like a boy´s name to me.
Well, I survived carnival season although I got hit by water balloons and buckets of water with no mercy- I was soaked as you can see in the photo. It was nice because while César was in the clinic I spent time with his cousins. They are lovely really and without them I don´t know if I would have found my way to the correct bleacher without being trampled by the crowd. These are kids who know how to survive on the streets.
I suppose that in the end everybody is looking out for themselves right? It´s easier to close your eyes and block out the unpleasant things than try to promote change. I have given up trying to do anything on a big scale, but one by one I hope to help those in my new family through education and affection.

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