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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: www.paraelmundo.

org. 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 first update from Peru, sent today:.--------------------------------------------------------------------------------.Hi everyone,.

This is a group email, but it's not that I don't love you each enough to send you individual updates. It's just that we don't have internet at our place yet, and I've been really busy, so for now, this is the best way to let you all know what's been going on.So getting a phone has been a challenge.

There are two potential problems in getting a phone set up in Mancora. One is that there might not be enough phone lines on your block, the other is that there may be too many phone lines. We are in the 'too much phone zone'. So we're still trying to figure it out.I've been busy working with 3 teen girls, talking, watching movies, teaching English, learning Spanish, and laughing a lot. Two of them are young women I worked with last year, and they are each unique with different struggles.

The tough thing here is that besides us, there is no one to call for help, no services or infrastructure. Cecilia and I are working on getting information on what women's legal rights are here, and we will go to the provincial centre next week to speak with the police there. What we've learned is they don't have many rights, but we are working hard to make friends with the police here so that they will enforce the laws that do exist.A couple weeks ago, one of the women we know was kicked by her ex-boyfriend in the street and Josh, Frank, Sean and Cecilia were there, backing her up, but it's hard to do much more.

At least for now, the bad guys know that there is now a posse in town willing to help women.Our house is great. I feel really comfortable and at home here. The guys did a ton of work in the few days before I arrived, installing shelves, locks on all the individual doors, and we have a well-stocked kitchen, lots of space, and nice furniture.

We each have our own room, and the spare room has been busy as well. Chris, another PaM director from Toronto, is here now, and a friend of Miguel's from university was here last week. Our first two paramedic volunteers arrive Sept.

11th, with 3 or 4 more coming in October.Our neighbours on each side have dogs, and I think we treat them much nicer than most people here, so they like us and protect us, which is great. When I'm on the phone downstairs or walking outside at night, they each do a good job guarding me, so I feel pretty safe. The dogs here are very territorial, and I've seen them show their teeth to strange men, but never to any of us.

They're both big - one is a black lab and one is a golden colored mix. We've also endeared ourselves to many of the kids in the neighbourhood. We have different running jokes with different kids, and they're lots of fun.Last night we were watching a movie on our projector, which is like 6' by 7' on the wall, and three kids and a dog, and our Peruvian friend Christian all stopped by. The kids were facinated by the huge tv thing, touching the wall as if they thought it was hot.Josh and Sean visited the centre for special needs kids yesterday, and the kids there were literally hanging off them, jumping into their arms and hugging them.

Very cute. The centre also hosts a number of volunteers, mostly from the UK, so it's been nice to meet other volunteer travelers and talk about our experiences. Sean and I and another friend also went to see one of our students play volleyball at the local stadium Tuesday night. It was a full house, and the kids were really good, despite having no kneepads and playing on a hard cement surface.

So, I'll end this update with a funny story.there are many, but this one is choice. I still laugh when I think about it. The other day, Maria, who works with Frank and Cecilia, comes to the door with a friend and asks if we'd like to buy some Pina (pinapple) shampoo. In a glass.

Hmmm. So we said that that wasn't really ideal, because it was just going to fill with water in the shower. They started laughing, because they knew what we were thinking, but I guess with the language barrier, they couldn't explain. So they came back a few minutes later with two glasses of thick, chunky pinnaplely looking stuff, and we took it. We figured 'when in Rome.

', so Sean decided to try it out in the shower. He was laughing and yelling from the shower because it was getting stuck in his chest hair, and he needed regular shampoo to wash it out. As it turned out, it was a dessert served here, similar to a pudding, but it is in fact called 'shampoo'. We learned the hard way again to always expect the unexpected here, and never to assume things are as they appear! : ).So that's all for now. In general, we're all feeling very at home and very much part of a community.

Our house is more often than not full of visitors passing through (kids from the neighbourhood, friends, dogs.with no phones, people can't call ahead), and we're all getting along well and working out the cooking and cleaning chores together.I hope you're all well, I miss you all, and will write again soon, much love,.

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 (http://www.travelandtransitions.

com/contests.htm) 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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