Hi everyone! We’ve been back in the US for a couple days now and are slowly getting back into our daily routines. This post is way overdue, but we thought it was important that we left you with the final things that we learned that DEA is undertaking in the town of Paracas.
This town is three and a half hours south of Lima and was greatly affected by an earthquake in 2007. It is also home to one of three national reserves in Peru and has one of the most breathtaking landscapes we had the opportunity of seeing. There are two aspects to the project in Paracas: an educational, health, and environmental sustainability program similar to the one in La Tablada, and a second eco-tourism project designed to allow DEA to become more financially independent, while also allowing those less fortunate to travel to one of Peru’s most beautiful locations.
Our first stop was to see the site where the new DEA building would stand. While it was nowhere near the size of the building in Lima, it would definitely be substantial as it contained all the necessities: a clinic, a classroom, an office, garden, and multipurpose room. We were then taken to the eco-tourism project site a few minutes away. Moises, Mili’s son, is given credit for this idea of an eco-tourism package designed to give those who live in lesser off communities (i.e. southern Lima) the opportunity to visit the Paracas area for a reasonable price. As of now, DEA has four rooms, each of which can hold up to 3-4 people, and electricity, plumbing, and water from a well. A kitchen and dining area, as well as a garden, are under construction. While DEA receives an income from the recycling program in Lima, this creative initiative will allow them to become even more self-sustaining. There are also plans of expanding this recycling program in Cusco, which could further support DEA. In addition, there are communities around Cusco in need of similar La Tablada-type projects, and once DEA can assess these needs, a similar mission that can donate resources to the region will be implemented.
Learning about all these plans for the future of DEA was extremely exciting, but we also got to hear a bit about its history. Dios Es Amor originally began as an investment made by a family friend to construct a project in the area of La Tablada to help the local children. However, there were insufficient funds to finish construction, so Ignasio (Moises’ father) reached out to old friends in Germany (who had similar values and goals of helping those less fortunate) in hopes of receiving aid. Ever since then, a group of Germans has visited DEA regularly, and has seen the impact DEA has made in the community. Their continuing support through fundraising in Germany has allowed DEA’s mission and project to grow. While we are certain these German friends have the ability to raise a much larger amount of money than we can every year, every little bit helps. The connection between Globemed and DEA was made fairly recently (2010). Two volunteers that had come to help DEA from Israel knew of Globemed and saw how these two organizations could benefit from each other. And thus, Globemed began at around the same time at Vanderbilt and we were paired with Dios Es Amor! (Thank you girls from Israel!)
Most importantly, we learned what an amazing philosophy DEA has. Through simple social programs, education, environmental sustainability, and community health, this organization has the ability to empower its community members. It gives them the resources and most basic needs so that they can rise out of, and stay out of poverty. Now, there is a generation of DEA workers that were once beneficiaries (as children) in the after-school programs. We hope Dios Es Amor’s mission continues for many years to come!
(photos will be posted soon)