Beyond Boarding Webisode # 2

Interactive blog post # 3

Beyond Boarding Webisode # 2 from Lew Muir on Vimeo.

The team has been spending a lot of time in La Belen, Iquitos, hearing more and more stories from the locals. Some of them are funny anecdotes that we can all smile about while others are inspiring and make us optimistic about this community's future. Then there are the heavy ones, reminding us of the hardships that people here face every day. We were particularly moved by this woman's story - it showed us explicitly the effect that a culture shaped by poverty has on its people. We've been seeing that when people struggle every day to provide their families with basic necessities, they can ignore or take advantage of the needs and weaknesses of their neighbours. This woman was robbed during the recent floods when she was forced to abandon her home. She told us how hard it is for her to cope with her living situation and explained to us some of the challenges inherent to caring for a family in a community divided by poverty. Upon arriving in Iquitos, our hosts at La Restinga (the community development organization we're working with here) explained to us that one of the biggest hurdles in developing impoverished areas is the fact that people tend to focus on their own needs and as a result places like La Belen often lack a strong sense of community. The workers at La Restinga believe that moving past poverty requires an atmosphere where people look out for each other, taking pride in and caring for their communities. All of La Restinga's projects around Iquitos create opportunities for communities to work together; they are designed to create bonds between the people they help, and promote the kind of community spirit that allows for effective development work. This approach leads to projects like the floating garden that are as much about getting people together as they are about creating a local sustainable foodsource. Knowledge of this approach has given us a new perspective on our project here in Peru and on development work in general. We're seeing the importance of solidarity in communities and hearing the heartbreaking stories of those who have been stepped over in its absence. This woman's story would be a different one if she were part of a strong social network, and we hope that the development work we're part of here helps provide that network for the future generations of La Belen. Words by David MacKinnon