Abject Poverty, Orphanages, and Cuban Cigars

Posted on Friday March 27, 2009 by Jacob Campbell.

 Los Niños de PPA Los Niños de PPA

 A photo overlooking some of Villa El Salvador. It began as a pueblo jóven (shantytown) in the vast, empty sand flats to the south of Lima in 1970 because of the urgent housing needs of immigrant families who had left the sierra of Peru. Villa El Salvador evolved into a huge urban zone, largely self-organizing, for which it won some fame. Largely through the efforts of its inhabitants, the neighborhood was supplied with electricity, water, and sewage. A photo overlooking some of Villa El Salvador. It began as a pueblo jóven (shantytown) in the vast, empty sand flats to the south of Lima in 1970 because of the urgent housing needs of immigrant families who had left the sierra of Peru. Villa El Salvador evolved into a huge urban zone, largely self-organizing, for which it won some fame. Largely through the efforts of its inhabitants, the neighborhood was supplied with electricity, water, and sewage.

Spending only five days working at the PPA is difficult, it really doesn’t feel like it is enough. As I sit here Thursday (actually technically Friday) morning, knowing tomorrow will be the last day that I get the opportunity to work with Los Niños de Puericultorio Perez Aranibar (PPA) it is a very sad thought. You see find pictures of Peru~ PPA & Villa El Salvador Peru~ PPA & Villa El Salvador 1 of 2 and Peru~ PPA & Villa El Salvador 2 of 2 albums on Facebook. Although I will only have been in Peru for 10 days come Saturday, it both feels like an eternity full of activities and thoughts and at the same time merely a touch in the water in regards to getting to know the kids or be of service to them and the PPA.

My mornings at the PPA have been spent doing physical labor. I have really enjoyed this trip having so many different layers to it. My physical labor layer is really nice in the fact almost nobody was willing to do it, knowing how much it’s needed around the huge campus of the PPA, and getting to see an instant result upon completion. The afternoon’s I spend “teaching” English to eight year old. Doing this I haven’t been able to see the instant results I get in the mornings. I believe it was one of my fellow travelers, Tony, who said it was like organizing chaos. We have a couple of games, often bring toy animals (asking the kids to describe them in Spanish then giving them the English names), and then playing futból and stopping various skirmishes. Even though I don’t believe me and Tony really taught the kids very much English, we got to love on them and give a couple of kids some individual attention they so lack in this institutional setting.

 It can be good to unwind with some wine, cheese, chocolate, Cuban cigars and good fellowship It can be good to unwind with some wine, cheese, chocolate, Cuban cigars and good fellowship

Yesterday, it was very powerful to get the opportunity to visit Villa El Salvador, a district in Lima. The main parts of town are nice, paved, and have many beautiful sections. Once you leave the more central areas, one finds how most Lima residents live. Villa El Salvador has dirt roads, no running water, trash in the streets, stinks, extremely poor families, and yet happy beautiful people. Seeing people’s resilience, regardless of their economic status and living conditions really puts your own life into status. It was a hard day, knowing that many of the kids at the PPA come from homes like the ones we visited in Villa El Salvador is really hard.

We visited one home, with one of PPA’s social workers. This visit was to check in with the family. We found a 12 year old daughter cooking for her younger siblings while her mom was at work. After getting back to Mira Flores (the wealthy district we have been staying in) we went back to the PPA to read bedtime stores to the three year old and tuck them in. It was so hard for many of us to leave these precious children. Feeling the weight of the day, I figured it was important to be able to debrief and relax. The trip has been strenuous.

Me and a friend bought some Peruvian wine, Cuban cigars (just had too, because they are illegal in the states), and Peruvian cheese and chocolate. About six of us stayed up talking until almost one am about all the things we’ve seen and experienced. It was powerful to just sit and get out many of the things we were all thinking about. Anyways, it is getting late and I have to get up very early for my last day at the PPA.

Peru Dias Tres y Cuatro

Posted on Tuesday March 24, 2009 by Jacob Campbell.

 An artistic photo of The sidewalk in Parque Amor in Peru at Sunset. An artistic photo of The sidewalk in Parque Amor in Peru at Sunset.

Sunday was a free day, which for me, meant sleeping in until late. I woke up and wondered down to the nearest café to order a chorizo enchilada and an Inca Cola for breakfast (maybe lunch). I spent some time on the internet at the local internet café and back to the hostel to just relax and get ready to head out to dinner. I spent some time reading down by the river and watching the sunset. Peruvians seem to flock to the streets and parks to hang out and spend time with each other (check out Peru~ Dias Tres y Cuatro Facebook Album.

 Working hard in El Jardin at the PPA in Lima.    Working hard in El Jardin at the PPA in Lima.

I really enjoy just hanging out with people. I don’t feel like, for me to be happy, I necessarily have to be doing something. I truly just love to spend time with people, maybe talk, maybe sit somewhere cool. I don’t feel like this is always acceptable. I end up not just dropping by or calling friends just because I do not have something in particular to do. I feel like Peruvians do not suffer from this. It seems like they are just happy to go to the park (by the ocean side) and watch the sunset together. Nothing that has to be done, just spending time. I really love that, and wish I had the courage to do live the same.

After watching the sun set, eating dinner we participated in some team building activities and I spent some time reading. The last couple of days I have been reading the first couple of chapters of Proverbs. I have also been reading Einstein: His World and Universe. I was amazed at Proverbs and the number of times, speaking about wisdom, that “she” is out in the streets or at the gates… etc basically that we ought to be looking in our common lives for wisdom. Also, in the Einstein book I have been amazed at the number of his and other’s “scientific revelations” came about as they were doing common daily activities (working, at a stop light… etc).

Today was the first Day at the PPA. It was a amazing experience. We meet with various area leaders, introducing ourselves in Spanish. Three other volunteers and I spent our morning working in the jardin (garden). The afternoon was filled with attempting to teach eight year olds English. This cause was difficult and quickly dissolved into playing futból outside. I was also quickly surrounded by youth wanting me to pick all of them up at the same time and spin them around. It’s hard to know that you can not be there for all 16 boys we were working with.

Tomorrow should be some more of the same… yet different.

The First Glimpse of Lima

Posted on Sunday March 22, 2009 by Jacob Campbell.

Photo of the Plaza Mayor en Lima The Plaza Mayor or Plaza de Armas of Lima, is the birthplace of the city of Lima, as well as the core of the city. Located in the Historic Center of Lima, it is surrounded by the Government Palace, Cathedral of Lima, Archbishop’s Palace of Lima, the Municipal Palace, and the Palace of the Union. This a photo of our group of social workers.

Since leaving Europe this summer, I have been wanting to to travel again. I signed up for this class, International Social Work, that would give me just such an opportunity. It’s traveling over spring break to Lima Peru to work in an Orphanage. The Orphanage is Puericultorio Perez Aranibar (PPA). It is for 10 days, and should be an amazing experience. We met at the airport about 03:45 am in Spokane on the 20th. Meeting so early for a flight meant that I didn’t sleep. Four airports, 16 hours of flight time, and a grand total of almost 24 hours of travel time we finally made it to Peru.

 A statue commemorating Abusto E. Perez Aranibar, Creator of the PPA    A statue commemorating Abusto E. Perez Aranibar, Creator of the PPA   [/caption]

You can check out the pictures so far at Peru~ Travel Day & Tours 1 of 2 and Peru~ Travel Day & Tours 2 of 2 Facebook Albums. You can read about Global Volunteers in Peru for more information.

We arrived in Peru and finally got to the hostel at about 12:30. Me and a couple of the other’s decided that we wanted to go to the beach for a bit, and maybe have a drink. We took a Taxi to LaComer, an upscale “mall.” It was beautiful to just relax and sit outside. Long travel days always mean the need to take a break. The next morning, 9am we were meeting to to to the PPA for the first time. We got an in-depth tour of the PPA. It was a hard revolution to know that the PPA takes care of at least 450 children from all over Lima. These kids come from all different ages (several months till 18). Some are orphans, and don’t have anywhere else to go. The others, their parents aren’t able to take care of them, so they come to the PPA. It was hard to walk into this giant room for the toddlers and hear a couple of them just screaming. Edith, our local team leader told us that the child just come in a couple of days ago. Many of the workers don’t always have time to give individual care to each of the children, only to take care of them. That is hopefully what we are here to accomplish.

Abusto E. Perez Aranibar, the creator of the PPA once said that he was hoping to create a Palace for the Children. The PPA has such a great vision and inspires a lot of hope. Regardless of the hope, it is still hard to see the lives these children live.

After touring the PPA, we went with LimaVision on a tour of the City. We saw centuries old ruins, beautiful houses in the wealthier district, olive trees, the Cathedral of Lima, Catacombs (and lots of bones), Plazza Mayor, and many other areas. The tour was great to get a quick view all around Lima, although it was the most touristy areas and not exactly the real Lima.

After dinning on meat and cheese filled empanadas and pizza, singing happy 21st birthday to Emily for the third time (plus getting her second dessert), some of the group decided they wanted to hit the town. We were first directed to this bar, with almost no name on the top and on the second story. It was a pretty cool place to chill out for a bit (well, actually it was really hot with no air flow), but the group decided that they wanted to go and dance. We wound though the maze of the bar (they put us back in our own room and played English music… not sure how I feel about that yet) and set out to find a club were people where dancing. The first one we found, was ok. It was kind of small, and they played mostly reggaeton. Right before we left, they had some African Drummers come out and preform… having the different guy’s and girls get up and dance. One of the girls (well, older ladies) pulled Gabe up and had him dance with her. It was hilarious. We went to one other place. This place had people both dancing to reggaeton and to Salsa. It was a lot of fun, and we didn’t leave until after 2am. Went back to the hostel and ended up just sitting outside for almost an hour just talking to Kellie. Before going to bed, spent some time sitting and reading / praying / thinking sitting overlooking some of the noisy Lima streets.

I am really looking forward to spending time at the orphanage tomorrow, I really can’t wait. I hope I can at least just make one of the kids smile and feel loved and accepted.

Cultural Awareness

Posted on Thursday February 19, 2009 by Jacob Campbell.

 Sign Inside of  Zola's . Sign Inside of Zola’s .

The image is of a sign inside of Zola’s. I went there with a couple of friends on Friday night. The Band Milonga, was playing. I must say that I was super excited to hear them play. They are excellent. Not only do they have great music, it’s very danceable and they seem to have a following of dancers that go where they go. It makes for a great experience. This is even more true, when you haven’t been able to go out dancing in a long time. Dance is something that I have been missing for almost a year. My life has just been too hectic to really fit it in, even when it is one of my stress relievers. It is also one of my connections to other cultures (especially the when talking about Latin dancing). I am hoping that going dancing this weekend with spur me to make more time for it coming up.

This week, has been kind of a look into cultural awareness. I found myself talking to the kids at my work during group the last two times I’ve led it on being culturally aware. I think that it is a very important concept for them to understand. We talked about it some, when I went out with some friends for valentines day. A couple of people that I am going to Peru with, some other friends, and myself all went to Applebees last night. It always nice to hang out with fellow social workers.

This morning when I woke up, and was actually able to make it to church (I’ve missed too much church lately) the topic was about cultural awareness (generally). I was struck by a skit that was preformed at the beginning of service. It was all about the concept of white privilege, and other race related issues. It actually reminded me of being in some of my social work classes. It also made me happy that my church has their perspective so right on. I don’t think my church puts videos of the various skits that they preform, but if they do I’ll post it later. In thinking about this, it made me remember a paper I wrote. It’s my ethnic autobiography. the following is an excerpt from it;

As a white protestant male, I am a member of the dominate culture in the United State. Growing up I never had to question if somebody was doing certain actions because of my ethnicity. I never had any difficulty finding people who looked like me, and being able to be accepted into a group. I never really thought about my skin color or my racial background. My mom never had to explain about my Germanic heritage, or did I ever wonder about cultural practices. All of these where vary far removed from my growing up experiences growing up.

You can read the rest of the essay I wrote: The Ethnicity of Non-Ethnicity: The Ethnic Autobiography of the Dominate Culture

Now, I have to run and go to work. It took a lot longer than I was expecting to put all this together.

Whew for a Moment… Now for the Next Step

Posted on Friday January 30, 2009 by Jacob Campbell.

Two other group members and myself have been working tirelessly on a research project. We are doing an effectiveness study of the Crisis Residential Center’s Direction Program. It’s a fairly intensive project. We went though and looked at former client files, are sending out surveys to both the former clients and their legal guardian, and going to preform some in-depth interviews with former clients. We spent all last quarter examining what we were going to do with our project, exploring the literature, and defining our methodology. We also had to get approval from the Institutional Review Board. Many a night was spent into the wee hour hours of the morning working on the papers for this. We’ve really wanted to present an excellent product. We are even planning to attempt to get this research published.

The Institutional Review Board took longer than we expected to allow us to go forward with our project. Between going over the various documents ourselves, then with our teacher, then with the board we had seven different versions. We submitted the application four times to the board. I am truly proud of my group members for not giving up, it’s been a long process. That long process, while we have met a milestone is not yet complete. Last week we finally sent out the surveys, but we still have a lot to do. Now we will have to gather and analyze all of the data. After tuning in our project for class, it will also be a long process to format and submit our research to various journals. For now I am just excited that we have sent out the surveys.

On an even more geeky note (although, there is not much more geeky than doing research) I thought I’d share about my new backgrounds for both my computer and my BlackBerry. found my newest background for my PC a while ago (I tend to change it semi frequently) somewhere… I don’t remember where. You can see it below. I decided that I would make my PC and my BlackBerry match, so I created a similar background for my phone. Fun with Photoshop.

 Desktop Background of a Smooth African Scene. I didn't create this one, I found it somewhere, but I don't remember where I found it. Desktop Background of a Smooth African Scene. I didn’t create this one, I found it somewhere, but I don’t remember where I found it.

 BlackBerry background image of Africa that I created using Adobe Photoshop. BlackBerry background image of Africa that I created using Adobe Photoshop.

It’s All Relative

Posted on Monday January 19, 2009 by Jacob Campbell.

Marko Calasan: Mini Mozart of Computers is a story about an eight year old kid who has become the worlds youngest IT Professional. He passed the Microsoft Certified System Administrator exam. This means that he would be qualified to administer some business’ Microsoft based network.

This made me think about how relative it all is. Comparatively to a lot of people my age, and especially older, I would say that I have above average knowledge in regards to computers. Computers are only my hobby, so I must say I don’t know all that much. I have been turned to by my mom on lots occasions to fix minor issues with her computer. I even showed her how to text message. But I have been frequently blow away by what the younger generation knows about computers. This young boy showcases this to the fullest extent.

Working with Diverse Populations - Juvenile’s Involved in the Justice System

Posted on Sunday January 18, 2009 by Jacob Campbell.

 No Matter How Loud I Shout by Edward Humes is a powerful book about Juveniles in the Juvenile Justice System. You can find a copy of  No Matter How Loud I Shout on Amazon  or on  No Matter How Loud I shout on Google Books . No Matter How Loud I Shout by Edward Humes is a powerful book about Juveniles in the Juvenile Justice System. You can find a copy of No Matter How Loud I Shout on Amazon or on No Matter How Loud I shout on Google Books .

Working with a diverse population requires the social worker examine aspects that make up the population. To fully examine a population, a few of the aspects that should be researched are as follows; best practices for working with the population, cultural background, tradition, norms and values, history of oppression, types of support, family dynamics, spirituality, and body language. The stories that fill Humes book come and address each of these aspects at different points.

Humes (1999) was granted unprecedented access to the juvenile courts in California. The juvenile court system is closed to outsiders and often seems secretive. The juvenile court system encompasses a large number of youth. In California there are 30,000 juvenile delinquency cases brought to court each year, 26 juvenile detention camps with some 4,400 youth, and 8,700 juvenile prison wards. The courts only have four basic sentences they can give to juveniles; (1) HOP (home of parent); (2) suitable placement (a network of public and private foster homes); (3) juvenile detention camps; (4) juvenile prison. This gives only limited options to how a judge can sentence a delinquent youth.

Humes book describes the various aspects of the Californian juvenile justice system. It moves around the stories of seven different teenagers involved in the court system. He also has in-depth look some different judges, their views and court rooms. Along with the judges he provides stories that involve attorneys, probation officers, youth, delinquents, families, social workers, teachers, and many others that come and go though the lives of the teenagers. It is all set up in story lines that intertwine together to give the reader a picture of court system.

To read the full review of Humes 1999 book and working with juvenile offenders or check out my resources.

Do You Really Understand

Posted on Saturday January 17, 2009 by Jacob Campbell.

Have you ever heard numbers, and wondered really what they mean. People say that they will be there or do something in a second, for things that are to be done relatively soon (i.e. like 10 minutes or less). I’ve talked to people in juvenile detention, or jail who say that they are only there for a minute, when they might mean a couple of months. Along the same lines, I have heard people say that “it will never be ok,” when the problem might seem minuscule in the view of our whole life.

The fact is, that numbers can be hard to understand and people might mean different things with them. This becomes especially true when talking about the large amounts of money. For example, Washington State has a $6 billion shortfall. The United States trade deficit is about $40.4 billion. The bailout of the US economy could range upwards of $5 Trillion.

The question is, do people really understand how much that money is. I am not in this post making an argument for or against any type of bailout I just want people to understand how much money these numbers are. When somebody starts talking about numbers in this range, it becomes difficult to comprehend how much that really is and their exponential growth from lesser numbers.

For this example, if you could imagine somebody dropping a single dollar every second into a bottomless pit (I created a flash video that does just this, see below), the following would be how long it would take for the following numbers.

  • For $100 (one hundred) it would take 1 minute 40 seconds
  • For $1,000 (one thousand) it would take 16 minutes 40 seconds
  • For $1,000,000 (one million) it would take 11 hours 13 minutes and 47 seconds
  • For $1,000,000,000 (one billion) it would take 31 years 249 days 1 hour 46 minutes and 40 seconds
  • For $1,000,000,000,000 (one trillion) it would take 316 centuries 88 years 32 days 1 hour 46 minutes and 40 seconds

This Adobe Flash Video that I created (nothing too amazing)