After four hours bumping and bouncing along rural dirt roads, the trucks finally came to a stop and the team unfolded themselves out of the backs of their cramped seats. The scene: a flood of colors and textures. The team had arrived at Corral de Piedra, a traditional Quechua village nested into a notch on a hillside, deep in Peru’s countryside. Corral de Piedra is a Cafe Femenino coffee-producing village. Cafe Femenino pays women coffee-producers a premium for their coffee, and finds that after they do so, a domino effect of good starts to happen: children eat more, families become healthier, communities become stronger.
This trip to Corral de Piedra was a Cafe Femenino Foundation trip, a journey to check how some of their projects were going. Recently, the farmers planted vegetable gardens with the encouragement of CF, a positive step in the way of nutrition since the bulk of their diet is based on white rice and beans. FACES Foundation and the Lions Club were on the trip performing a sort of feasibility assessment: they wanted to know what the possibilities might be for a long-term joint project with Cafe Femenino in this village. FACES and CF found great success with their past project in San Antonio, and the groups of interesting in replicating this sort of model in Corral de Piedra. The Lions Club was interested in assessing the possibility of a using Corral de Piedra as a sight for vision and hearing testing of rural peoples in Peru.
After the long ride, the team was greeted by all the women and children of the village. Welcome speeches were made, after which Cafe Femenino sponsored a La Chocolatada: a traditional Peru Christmas celebration during which all the children in the village receive hot chocolate and Panatone bread.
Corral de Piedra’s school teacher gave a fantastic tour of the village, which included a minor hike up to see the new terraced vegetable gardens. Cabbage, spinach, quinoa and other vegetables were sprouting from the hard soil. After the tour, the team headed up the road where the women put on a potluck for all the visitors: each woman brought one dish to share with everyone, including cui (guinea pig), fried chickpeas, potatoes and cancha (fried and salted corn kernels).
With full bellies, the FACES/Cafe Femenino/Lions team bade the villagers goodbye (but not without buying some beautiful hand-made textiles first!). FACES is looking forward to visiting this village again, and hopes to instill some new health systems and programs in the area including nutrition and health-promoter training. The Lions Club plans to return to the village to provide vision and hearing screening, during which they plan on providing free glasses to anyone in need, and to assist those who may need hearing aids.