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Peru – Distribution

October 17, 2007 - Peru

by Steve Henrichon

Yesterday morning, we participated in a distribution.  Tzu Chi had plans to distribute a 110 lb sack of rice, mattress, bag of beans, blanket, and cooking oil to each of the the 2000 families that live in the San Andreas district of Pisco.  It is more manageable to help everyone in a single designated area versus helping a few people all over town (and riots can be avoided).

We left at 6am on the bus with 40 uniformed Tzu Chi volunteers from Taiwan, US, Peru, Paraguay, and Argentina.  The distribution took place at a fish factory in San Andreas.  When we arrived, many residents were already there to welcome us.  After a 45 minute ceremony, the distribution began.  They would allow about 60 people into the building at a time…they would be given their goods…then we would help them out with their rice as they exited the back door of the warehouse.  Most of these people dont have cars so eventually taxis started to arrive and they were charging a premium to cart everyone´s goods to their house.  People were sharing taxis and mattresses were piled on top of the cars.  Even the little motor taxis ( which are basically like scooters that can fit two people) somehow figured out a way to also fit a few bags of rice and actually strap several mattresses on top.

More and more families would gather outside with their goods without transportation.  It became very crowded.  Rene spent the majority of his time outside helping the people with there rice to the taxis.  He was doing a great job a directing traffic and making sure people moved their goods to the side of the road so the taxis could get through.  There were also a few hundred people outside near the exit who did not live in San Andreas and therefore were not eligible to receive the rice.  Mothers, children, and men would surround me everytime I went outside and plead for food…or ask me how they could get inside.  I got used to saying ¨Solamente estoy ayudando otra organizacion.  Hable con los chinitos.¨ I am only helping another organization.  Speak with the chinese people.  It was sad to see.  I dont blame them.  They are hungry too…but this is not a problem that will be solved over night.  It will be a long time before everyone is helped.

I liked helping the mothers out with their rice because I would talk to them about their children…with their rosy chapped cheeks.  It gets them to open up a bit and sometimes I would take a picture.  Everyone who actually received their goods where very appreciative.  One woman even started crying because she was so thankful for our support.  The people who were not eligible, however, were getting more frustrated.  Eventually, people started reciving goods with false tickets and the police shut the operation down because the scene outside was getting hostile.

At the end of the day, I was worn out…and very sunburned.  I mustve moved close to one hundred 110 lb bags of rice.  My whole body ached and I started to shiver even though it was very hot out.  I knew I needed to rest.  That night a slept for 17 hours and I feel much better today!  Helping out with the distribution was a great experience for both of us.  I am glad we were there to help out Tzu Chi so we can live up to RMF´s motto ¨Friends Helping Friends.¨  We all have the same goal so collaboration between organizations is very important.  We will be relying on help from other organizations during this entire process so what goes around, comes around.

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