Saturday, March 24, 2012

My Salvation: the legally binding contract

So here I am, less than four months from being home, and finally my work is taking off in more positive ways than I could imagine.  On the one hand, this means I have finally met some of my potential here in Cutervo and I can go home feeling like I actually made some meaningful change that will positively impact hundreds of people.  However, on the other hand, I can't help but think what I could do with a third or even fourth year here now that I have finally overcome so many of the initial barriers (cultural, linguistic, trust, etc...).  I have very mixed feelings about leaving.  Fortunately, the choice is already made for me because I have school debts to pay.  I will be ending my service with the Peace Corps on the 20th of July and heading home shortly thereafter.

If you would have asked me a month ago how things were going I would have stuck you as possibly the most cynical and pessimistic person you know.  All of my projects had been put on hold, none of my local counterparts were answering calls or showing up to meetings, the Kutiri youth center had been closed for over 3 months and no one was keeping up with their promises.  I was frustrated and angry and I had all but given up entirely on Kutiri.  Then march hit and school started up again.  I got one call... then two, then four.  Within the first week of March my faith had been restored and my counterparts and I were working harder than ever.  Apparently I had just not realized it is customary to just not do any serious work during school vacations.

What you see here is a bonafide contract from Cutervo, Cajamarca, Perú.  These five flimsy pages represent the culmination of my two years of work here.  This document officially establishes the Kutiri Youth Development Center as a locally run and supported government agency.  To ensure that the program has its best shot at sustainability the operational and provisional requirements are split up between the local Municipality (the mayor's office), the Ministry of Health (DISA), the Ministry of Education (UGEL), and whatever Peace Corps Volunteer is in Cutervo at the time (I have secured at least one more to come after me).  The contract also specifies that the community must establish a permanent space for the youth center within the next four years.  It took a tremendous amount of work and patience to get all the different actors to the table and agree to these terms but there it is.  And now that we have local funding we have been flying through meetings with school directors, kids, local professionals, and politicians to get the center to self-sustainability before I leave.

Yep. Things have certainly picked up! After I get back from my research trip I not only have the youth center to focus on but I am helping plan a regional youth camp in the south of Cajamarca (click here to learn more and donate). I also have a close of service conference in Lima and a separate trip back for medical exams. All this within four months!

I will have to write separate posts on both my research trip and the upcoming youth camp.

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