Thursday, November 17, 2016

Peace corps volunteer

Our St. Luke’s Family,

Some of you kindly ask how our daughter, Christa Cook, serving in the Peace Corps in Peru, is doing and we thought we’d share her story so far. . .

--Chris & Marcie Cook

November 3, 2016

I’ve been living in the Northern Andes Mountains of Peru in the region of Amazonas for 3 months now. While intermittently sick and very tired of the repetitive food, I've learned so much from this small community that has made this whole experience worth it. I have been working on a bathrooms project here because most people use what we call "underdeveloped latrines", which is basically a hole in the ground. Some people even still openly defecate. The community I'm working in is very poor, the average income is 300 soles a month (equivalent to about $95 per month) and most households make money by farming.

While very poor, the people in this community ALWAYS invite me to lunch and ask if there's anything they can do to help me as they are very aware that I am alone in this country. They invite me to their parties, but I think that’s mostly because they think it’s funny how the “gringa” dances. They don’t have much but they share what they have with each other and even this outsider from a country that generally has a bad reputation in Latin America. (A part of one of Donald Trump’s speeches about Latin immigrants has been replayed over and over and has helped paint this negative picture of the USA to the people around me in Peru.)

I know you've probably heard stories like this before, but it amazes me that these people can be so poor, so uneducated, yet so happy and generous. I've only been here 3 months and I've only included the good I've seen here (but like all countries, there are negative things) and I have 1 year and 9 months left to complete this project and continue learning about the beautiful Peruvian culture.

On behalf of all Peace Corps Peru, thank you for your prayers and good thoughts as we continue our work here.  One of the goals for us in the Peace Corps is to share Peruvian culture with Americans so you are helping me fulfill that goal.

Regards, Christa Cook