An Update from Danielle Lafond from Mancora Peru

At the end of July I saw a brief feature on local TV about a Canadian couple who had mortgaged their home to create an international non-profit development organization in Peru, starting with shipping a container full of donated medical supplies to a small town on the Peruvian coast. I didn't catch the person's name, but I did catch the website: Once on the site I sent an email, and Josh, the co-founder of this organization, got back to me in an email from Peru to arrange an interview with his wife, Danielle, who had came up with the idea for this project.I had a chance to do an interview with Danielle who told me about how she and her husband Josh remortgaged their home to raise $30,000 to start a non-profit community development organization in a town called Mancora, a small fishing town of 15,000 people, located in northern Peru on the Pacific coast, just south of the Ecuadorian border.

They already shipped a container full of medical supplies to Peru, at their own cost.In August Danielle moved to Peru to join her husband Josh, to help this Peruvian community of Mancora. Danielle will be sharing with us regularly how she and her husband are doing in this little town in Peru and she'll tell us stories (sometimes humorous ones) about cultural adjustment as well as give us progress reports of her non-profit community assistance organiation. Here is her second update:.--------------------------------------------------------------------------------.Hi everyone,.

How are things with all of you? I figured it was about time to send you another update. Things have been busy and always interesting, sometimes strange and often funny. We've had an interesting bunch of visitors occupying the guest room. First we had Dougald, a friend of Miguel's from Toronto, then Danny, another friend of Miguel's from Toronto (who at this moment should be on the Inca Trail - yikes!), and now Tracy, a Toronto paramedic, is here helping out.Were getting to know Mancora better everyday, although it still continues to baffle us. Finding things is a challenge, given that you can get limes at the computer store, rent movies at the cable place, and get your laundry done at a restaurant.

To find flea powder (Ill tell you why in a second), we had to go to Ruth's, who sent us to Dianna's, who told us to walk three blocks this way and a block that way, and ask for Nico Machalas house. So we did, and some local kids were able to tell us which house it was. It looked normal on the outside, but his front room was full of a random assortment of things hanging from the ceiling and in glass cases. He did indeed have flea powder, pre-packaged or bulk. We bought the packaged stuff.

So why did we need flea powder, you ask? Well we didn't, but our kittens did. Josh and I rescued two kittens last weekend, on Sean's birthday. We were all having a fire on the beach with some friends, and on our way there, we found these two kittens in the garbage dump, crying and hungry and full of fleas.

They were really skiddish at first, and we took them home, bathed them, fed them, and put some sand in a box for litter.Thank goodness, they took to it right away and we haven't had any problems with them going no.1 or no.2 anywhere theyre not supposed to.

We call the female Pilsen - she's all black and named after a Peruvian brand of beer. The male is black and white, and he's called Pisco, after a Peruvian liquor. Really, we're not alcoholics or anything, we just thought it'd be cool. We all enjoy them a lot and theyre getting fatter and cuter everyday. Theyre very socialable now, and spend their days going from lap to lap purring. We figure they're about 3-4 months old.

Weve been getting into surfing, and we bought a used board last week. Its an 8 foot gunner, which means it can be turned and it has fins. It needed a paint job, so Sean and Miguel have been working on it. One side is red with white maple leafs, and the other side is white with red maple leafs.

Go Canada! It was $40. Were getting another board, a 10 foot long board, which are very hard to come by and also very easy to learn on, because its basically a huge flat raft- like thing. Pretty much impossible to tip over. You could use it to go fishing on, its that steady.

You can't turn one to save your life, but it'll be good for beginners like me.Also, now that we have two boards, we can go out two at a time, which is more fun. Waves are big here - the last few days they've been 2-2.5metres, which is too big for our beginner butts.

We'll wait until they're under 2 metres, thanks.Weve met some cool new friends here too, from Britain and Australia. There is a Centre for Special Needs kids in Mancora, and we help them out quite a bit. Josh and Tracy have prepared a first aid kit for them and will be teaching some of the parents and volunteers there first aid. Anyway, they have a number of volunteers for a few months at a time, and weve been hanging out with them.

Its nice to meet people that are like-minded and who are also here working here, as opposed to tourists who are on vacation.This past weekend, we took a hiking trip with them. There were seven of us in total, and we were the guinea pigs trying out a new route that the ministry of tourism wants to use as an ecotour.

Guinea pigs indeed. It was a little scary, to be honest, and probably not entirely safe, but we did get home safely. All we were told ahead of time was that it was a hike between two beaches.In fact, it was, but it was a hike from one beach to another along a very rocky, cliffy, shale-y shore, and we had to hurry because the tide was rising. I wore sandals, thinking beach hike = sand, but I was wrong and got a big painful blister within the first hour. Then I borrowed shoes that were too big and I had no socks.

Fun times.Part of the trek involved climbing up shale cliffs, with little safety equipment except for a piece of rope tied to a rock. Thank goodness Josh (former rock climbing instructor) was there to keep an eye out. I almost got schmucked by a huge falling rock that one of the guides threw off the top of the cliff, without looking down to see if it was clear.

Anyway, the view was nice and we made it to the end, had lunch, then tried to get back to Mancora. We took a combi (mini-van packed with way too many people) from the small town we were in to Paita, then another combi (also way too packed, Josh was so cramped with his long legs) to Sullana.When we got to Sullana (at 5pm) we found out there was a strike and no buses were going to Mancora until who knows when, maybe days.

So after much negotiation and in front of a growing crowd of onlookers, we ended up convincing a guy with a station wagon to take us the 150km for 20 soles each. We fit seven people into the station wagon (3 in the trunk part looking backwards) and made it home around 7ish last night.Things with the organization are moving along nicely.

We finally got phone and internet at our place. To call from Canada, dial 011-51-73-258250. We also found a space to rent for the clinic, which is very exciting. Its decked out, with a phone, a bathroom, running water, a finished floor, and three small rooms plus the main space.

Weve finished the inter-agency agreement between PaM and the Peruvian Red Cross, and our donations should be on their way any time. We have another 6 paramedics coming to help out in October/November, so well be able to get lots done. On the sad side, one of Josh's first patients died this week. She was 87 and he used to visit her everyday at her house.I have been working on teaching English to a group of people I taught last year, and I also work with some of them on an individual level for emotional support and other social- worky stuff. We take Spanish classes everyday.

The current drama going on right now is that one of the women we work with has been kidnapped by her loser ex, who is that father of her 1 year old, and we haven't seen or heard from her since Saturday. If no one knows anything by tomorrow, we will try the police, but they usually arent very helpful, especially not in domestic violence cases.Since he's been here, Josh (and others from our organization) have personally been involved in several cases of violence against women in the street. Most people just stand around and watch, but once one person does something, others step up to help. Right after the last incident, several women came to Cecilia's house and wanted to know who we were and if we could help them.

They all said that they were afraid to do anything, but that once they saw Josh and Cecilia step in, they felt they could help too.So thats the update for now.Hope you're all well, I send big e-hugs to everyone!.Hasta pronto,.Danielle.

.Susanne Pacher is the publisher of a website called Travel and Transitions ( Travel and Transitions deals with unconventional travel and is chock full of advice, tips, real life travel experiences, interviews with travellers and travel experts, insights and reflections, cross-cultural issues, contests and many other features.

You will also find stories about life and the transitions that we face as we go through our own personal life-long journeys.Submit your own travel stories in our first travel story contest ( and have a chance to win an amazing adventure cruise on the Amazon River."Life is a Journey Explore New Horizons".

The article with photos is published at Travel and Transitions - Interviews.

By: Susanne Pacher

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