Working on the Railroad…

Hey Friends, I don’t really remember the last time I updates I think it was a week ago? maybe? I’m trying to look up what I talked about last time but like normal the internet is slower than a fat kid running through chocolate pudding (lets face it, the only thing moving is the kid’s jaw). I guess I can tell you all about the work I’ve/we’ve been doing here.

So, a few weeks back we started a mural contest. We work closely with a Colegio (kind of like a middle school and a high school crammed into one thing). We’ve been working with themes of bullying, domestic and family violence, and drug prevention. We held a 2 hour class a few weeks back with the 5th years (seniors) and we talked about violence and things to this nature. We had the students write out anonymous confessions about violence they had experienced in their life.  We took these notes made a small booklet out of them and are giving them to the theatre director at the school. They are going to perform alternatives to these confessions and show how to resolve violence peacefully and assertively (I hope).

But back to the mural contest. About 2 weeks back we announced this contest and last Monday we declared a winner, or 2 winners to me precise. We only received 2 entries and one was copied off the internet. The winners were 2 girls that worked together to come up with a design against bullying. Their motto was “You don’t have to break the chains (of addiction) if you never get enchained” (roughly translated).

We met with these 2 girls (we including Will and I, Heather who is going to help with the theatre, and Armando and Aubrey the creative minds). We worked with the girls to develop colors and a message that was more broad. I’m really excited about the design we finished with. The image (if you can image, is a person standing in the middle breaking the chains that hold a bottle of beer and a cigarette (the bottle and cigarette are running away screaming). In a thought bubble the kid is thinking about the domestic violence that happens in his house. The bubble instead of being made of a cloud like a normal thought bubble is outlined in chains. This shows that his father (who is beating his mother) is chained to his addictions and by breaking the chains in his own life by choosing not to use drugs, this kid is also breaking the cycle of violence. I’ll try to post some pictures when I can. We’re starting that tomorrow at 9 Open-mouthed smile .

We have already completed one set of mural in the pediatric area of the hospital. They are pretty simple. We painted two walls. The smaller of the two is just a simple hand print mural. Will and I came into the Hospital one night when this part was closed and painted large blue waves on the wall.Will's Shit 903 The next day the kids painted their hands and put their hand prints on the walls. Before we arrived the walls were a mustard gas yellow and very dark. Our idea was to brighten the area and give the kids something to do while they waited the eternity for their consult. Will's Shit 913  We Even got our bosses involved. The photo here is one of the Psychologists we work with after she helped us paint the wall. Will's Shit 919The second wall (the larger of the two) is a little more artistic. We started with a large blue wave all the way across and then started by painting the Nazca Lines on the wall.  We painted the condor, the monkey, the hummingbird, a lizard, a whale, the spider, and one just called “hands.” Will's Shit 938  We then finished the wall off with more hand prints and the Viva Peru logo. Will's Shit 940

Here are a few more pictures of the kids painting and having fun. I think Will and I enjoyed this almost as much as the kids.

Will's Shit 925Will's Shit 935





Will's Shit 939  This is the monkey that I drew. I added eye brows so he’s not so angry looking Will's Shit 941

So, that’s a bit of what we have been working on. We have also visited a remote community to to self-esteem building with the kids and a vaccine drive for the babies. We never did get out to the other communities to test water but we have to save something for future students.


So, yesterday I went out to finally collect some data on my research. As most of you know, I am looking at the prevalence of disease in the informal miners in this area of Peru. Yesterday, we conducted about 16 interviews and collected what I hope to be some useful data.  Based on preliminary interviews the most common issues are with respiratory infections, difficulty breathing, and cyanide poisoning. I still need to talk to a doctor about particular symptoms. The problem here is that there are a lot of confounding variables. For example, a symptom that is commonly exhibited in patients with chronic cyanide exposure is involuntary loss of weight. However, in labor intensive jobs such as mining, someone can lose a lot weight without realizing it. This makes it difficult to tell the reason for the weight loss. But I still think I have some really sound data and can make some useful suggestions to the hospital members. Just so you guys can see, here are a few pictures of El Toro (the informal gold mine…I’ll even include a picture of the tunnel we entered on our first visit)

This is El Toro. At the very top is a formal mine but the rest is informal. They actually penetrate the mountain here so, it’s not like the more popular open-pit mining style used in Araquipa in the SouthHuamachuco 192

El Toro and Dias Patrias 002  This is from the first site. The dirt piles contain Gold Ore. Water i s ran through them with other chemicals (including cyanide) and then the Water collects the gold and binds it to  carbon in large pots. The water is then stored (with all the chemicals in an open pool seen below. You can see the hoses used to pump the water. The pots (non-photographed) contain carbon and raw gold. For every 20kg of carbon there is 3g of Gold.El Toro and Dias Patrias 004 El Toro and Dias Patrias 005                          

This is the pit we entered. it’s about 3’ tall and 20-40’ deep. Very tight, very damp, very uncomfortable. El Toro and Dias Patrias 003

El Toro and Dias Patrias 009

This is a typical mining site.


So, this is my life for another week or so. See you all soon!


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