Sunday, May 31, 2015

Super Heroes - The Sisters of St. Clare School

Sister Matilde, Sister Paula, Sister Monica, Sister Maribel

Are the four sisters at St. Clare School Super Heroes?  They get up every morning by 5:30am for early prayer. They teach at St. Clare School, go to the university in Piura (a 45-minute bus ride each way) for class, teach religious education during the week at St. Francis Church in the city, run a pharmacy that is located at the school, and go to Mass every weekday except for Wednesday.

Each sister alternates making a large mid-day meal. They are all excellent cooks.

I'd go to bed after midnight almost every night and hear the sisters on the first floor. They'd either be studying for their university classes, planning their lessons for their own classes at St. Clare School or working on paperwork. They would even watch television...a way to wind down from a busy day. I was asked by one of the travelers, "Do the sisters ever sleep?" I wondered the same thing.

They always smile, even though we know they have hardships and see hardships every day of their lives. They work harder than anyone I know. Yet they always find the time for prayer and Mass.

They are my SUPER HEROES.

Submitted by Deb Passino

Saturday, May 30, 2015

Update on Fabiana

Doug, Deb, Fabiana's Family and Sister Matilde
We were able to meet with Fabiana and her family. For those of you who don't know anything about her, she's an 8-year-old girl with a connective tissue disease called Epidermolysis bullosa (EB). It is a rare genetic disease. Fabiana has extremely fragile skin and recurrent blister formation, caused by friction from her clothing and shoes. It is not contagious.

Please read the blog post from last year. As you'll see from that post, Fabiana had deep scabs throughout her body. Over the past year, there has been some improvements. Her legs and arms have fewer scabs. However, her neck and ears still have some very deep blisters and scabs. She has grown and is very thin. She needs to put some weight on those bones. Her hair is much thinner this year.

An anonymous donor from St. Paul Parish donated $1,000 to the School Sisters of St. Francis for Fabiana's medical care. Thank you donor!!  Fabiana has improved. Because of your donation and lots of care from Fabiana's mom and dad, she has made some improvements.

Another St. Paul donor provided vitamins and instant breakfasts. Thank you! We hope that the next time St. Paul Parish visits with her, she'll have added on a few pounds.

Thank you donors!

You have made a difference in Fabiana's life!

Visiting the Water Treatment Plant in Paita

Here's How the Water is Treated
Manager Showing Where Water is Distributed

The mayor contacted the water treatment plant and arranged for a tour for our team. We were treated like diplomats and welcomed with open arms. We took a two hour tour of the plant and met with the plant engineer.
Our tour began with a manager, explaining where water is treated in the state of Piura and how it is treated at the plant. 
 We took a tour of their laboratory where the water is tested every two hours by a biologist. 

The MSOE team, the Plant Biologist and Manager
The Entire Team
The Plant Biologist and Sister Matilde, our Translator

The plant is 36 years old and needs newer equipment. The management has done a good job maintaining all of the equipment. However, they would like to upgrade  the equipment due to its age.
I don't have any experience with water treatment. I am not from  a student or engineer from MSOE  to know if the water treatment was done correctly. However, listening to the conversation between the Engineer, who is responsible for the entire plant, the manager who is responsible for the water treatment, and the MSOE team, it seems as though the water treatment plant is treating the water correctly in this plant.  It seems to me that the problem with the water occurs once the water leaves the plant.  I know that Doug will probably write an explanation in another blog post to better explain the process.

As we were getting ready to leave, the mayor sent a team of officials to the water plant to meet with Doug.

Officials From the Mayors Office, Doug and the Sisters
Let's talk about the very poor areas of Peru. In the neighborhoods that are land invasions, (the people make a temporary home and wait for the municipality to give them a title which could take a year or two) the people do not have water tanks, and most don't have electricity.  Outside businesses deliver water to their homes. Many of the businesses are not licensed. We found out that some water delivery trucks steal water right from the river and don't do any treatment. Other water delivery trucks may steal water directly from the municipality water pipes. This is another way of contaminating the water.

The people in settlements, (settlements started as land invasions and were given title to their homes)  do not have plumbing in their homes. The city delivers water to a water tank assigned to 15 - 20 families. Professor Doug Nelson tested the water from one of the tanks and it did not show that it was contaminated with any bacteria. The people purchase water from the tank. Some families purchase 20 buckets of water every few days. The buckets do have covers. However, they can easily become contaminated...dirty buckets, dirty hands, water being transferred from the truck to the tank. Who knows how it's happening. We just know it's happening.

If families have enough money for gas or coal, they boil their water. Otherwise, they use the water right from the tank.

As for the industries, they get water 24 hours a day. For other parts of the city, such as the home of the sisters, they only get water for two hours a day. According to Doug, this is another way that the water is contaminated. When the water is shut off in the for those 22 hours, bacteria has a chance of entering the municipality water pipes.

In the homes that receive water for only two hours a day, the water from the municipality goes to a tank in the ground, located inside the home. That water is then pumped from the ground tank to a large tank located on the roofs of the homes. When water is needed for daily use, such as for flushing toilets or washing dishes, the water is received from the tanks on the roofs. The ground or roof tanks can also harbor and breed bacteria. The water was tested in Sister Monica's home and it was found to have a minute amount of bacteria. For people that are healthy, this water is drinkable. However, this bacteria can cause problems to those with compromised immune systems. That doesn't mean that the water couldn't have other types of harmful bacteria, such as e-coli, the next week. That's why boiling the water or using a water filter/purifier is important. 

Submitted by Deb Passino

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Another Long Day at PRONOEI

We're Here to Serve
Another long day in the books at PRONOEI for our team, demonstrating the rest of the mother's receiving the water purification systems. Everyone seemed so excited to learn how to use these systems and they were eager to test them out and take them home to get them installed. We again traveled into homes to help install the systems. It was interesting to see how established each home was with such items as flooring, walls, kitchen appliances, and so on. Many homes had only dirt floors, very few had concrete poured and many homes were brick walls. Very few families had full kitchen appliances with most homes having just dual burner system that they currently use for boiling their water and cooking their food.
Families Buying Water at the Community Tank

Roughly a year ago, I was in Blue Mountain Jamaica  with Professor Nelson attempting to look into their water distribution system. It is interesting to be able to look at both systems and compare them. In Jamaica we met with the head of their water council to get information of the needs of the system, the current construction of their system, and the improvements of their system. We were willing to help with ideas to improve their system, but all they wanted us to do was help dig a hole to lay pipes which wasn’t the purpose of the trip. Conversely, here in Peru the mayor was ecstatic that we wanted to help and he wanted the help we were willing to give.  He got us a tour of their waste water treatment plant and wanted to come with us on the tour, but his schedule didn’t allow time. He knew the issues and wants to be involved with the solution which was opposite of how Jamaica was.

Visiting a Family
For me this trip showed the different yet still similar struggles that the world has. I compared this trip to Jamaica a lot and I found it interesting that for similar problems such as not having water their solutions were different, and the way they came about finding a solution could be completely opposite.
Submitted by  Karissa Brunette


2nd Day of Training in PRONOEI

Nine more women were trained in installing, using and maintaining the system. We went to many of their homes to help them install setup their system. Doug did an excellent job training the women on how to use and maintain the system.



Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Meeting With the Mayor

So, we have not mentioned to date that our initial meeting with the Mayor of Paita on Thursday had to be postponed.  We had been somewhat apprehensive because finding another time to meet with him seemed to be rather difficult.  So, not to be out done, the secretary of school and the secretary of the Mayor “conspired” to have us show up at the mayor’s office.  He was scheduled for a meeting with an Ecuadorian delegation when we arrived, but he promised to meet with us as soon as he could “duck out” of the other meeting.  After an hour of waiting our hopes were fading and we were discussing Plan B.
To our surprise and delight, he showed up and motioned us into the office.  We had a delightful 30 minute meeting with the mayor-not bad for being unscheduled!  Most importantly, it appears that it was beneficial for the school, the water filter effort, and potentially, the future of water treatment and delivery in the area.  He is very aware of both quality and quantity issues with the water and they are consistently investing their limited resources in improving the infrastructure.
Our purpose in meeting was simply to get a meeting with the water purveyors.  I wanted to have our students do a minimal assessment of the delivery system and see if we could predict if the system was likely to improve in the future.  (I should mention that the system is visibly improving, since there is a second water tower being constructed across the street from the school.)  After our brief discussion, not only did the mayor agree to get us a tour of the facilities, but he wants to schedule it for Thursday and he will go on the tour with us!
This was a good meeting with a man who wants the best for his City.  I am very impressed and look forward to sharing with him ways that partnerships may be formed for the benefit of the people of Paita.

 Muchas Gracias, Mr. Mayor!


Visiting Families in the PRONOEI Community

After classroom training, the team visited the families and helped them setup their water purifier. The people were really excited about their new water system.


Monday, May 25, 2015

Do Something!

When I think of a way to sum up our entire trip thus far I immediately think of the song "Do Something" by Matthew West. The chorus goes like this:
If not us, then who
If not me and you
Right now, it’s time for us to do something
If not now, then when
Will we see an end
To all this pain
It’s not enough to do nothing
It’s time for us to do something

We are providing what these people need. If we had not taken this trip to help these wonderful people who would have? That is the continuous question in my mind. Today when we met with 10 different families it validated our time here for me. They were so enthusiastic to be able to use a simple system to get clean water for their families.​ The excitement in their eyes and voices really hit me, and that was enough. I can´t wait to see the next group experience that same excitement. I am so glad I was given the opportunity to come help and meet the people here. 


Submitted by Mikala Turner



A Great Day in Paita

A very successful afternoon!

There are now 13 water systems deployed in the Paita community.  10 are serving families near the PRONOEI school which serves 3 and 4 year olds in poor area of the community.  These families were extremely grateful to have the filtration systems in their homes.  They think that it will save significantly on their gas bill for boiling water.  We had a great meeting with the mothers before visiting most of the homes to assure that installation went well.  The gratitude expressed by these families was heartwarming.

Two of the units will serve the two buildings at the  PRONOEI school site.  The parents at this school have been supplying bottled water for the children weekly.

The first unit running was for the Sisters in their residence.  It has gotten great use filling all of our water bottles since being set up.

By the end of the week it appears that all 25 units will be in use.

What a great day.
Submitted by Doug Nelson

A Very Busy Monday

What a productive day!!!

Our group was introduced to the children of St. Clare School today at their 7:50am assembly. It is a special multi-cultural day and the children sang an indigenous language and danced to the song.

The Team

Dancers and Singers

Today, May 25, was a special day for the Kindergarteners (3, 4 and 5 year olds). The children had lots of fun activities... music and dance, chicken kabobs, cake, and drink. Each child received a bag with favors. You could tell that the girls really loved dancing. Look at the faces of those boys! I think they'd rather be outside playing in the sand!

3-year-old Girls Dancing

Boys Looking On

I can Dance!

Three-year-old Kindergarten Party

We  went to a PRONOEI school today. PRONOEI is a government-funded pre-school of 58 children, run by the School Sisters of St. Francis. Even though its a public school, many religious icons are visible at the school. The neighborhood surrounding this PRONOEI school is very poor. Last year, the municipality made electricity available to this community. However, there is no running water.

Building in Center is a Community Tank of Water
Down each street, there are approximately 15 families that share a community water tank. The water is delivered to this community tank every couple of weeks. Each family buys approximately seven, five-gallon buckets of water daily. The daily water costs them one sol or 32 cents.

The water is chlorinated. However, the water has a good chance of becoming contaminated. It's delivered in a tank on the truck. It's very windy and sand blows everywhere. There's dog and cat feces everywhere.  Most families boil their drinking water with gas or coal. The gas or coal costs them money.We were told that some people don't boil the water because they don't have the money for fuel.  The people in this area barely make ends meet.

St. Paul Parish in Genesee Depot, WI donated 25 systems. THANKS DONORS of St. Paul Parish!. The School Sisters of St. Francis (SSSF) selected 20 families, from this area, to use the new water purification systems. Two systems are going to be used by the children of the PRONOEI school.

The moms met with our team  after school so that they could be trained on how to use the water purification system. Doug Nelson trained them in setting up the system and how to clean the Berkley elements. We are cautiously optimistic that they will use them.  They all felt they would be easy to use. Thanks to Doug for doing such an excellent job training them. They moms all felt that this system will save them lots of money because they don't have to buy coal or gas to boil their water. Only time will tell.