Tuesday, November 3

The downer

I've tried to keep my blog upbeat--videos, photos, little vignettes. This little space on the internet isn't supposed to be a downer. But sometimes I'm going to have to give a taste of the reality here in Peru. 

The hard part about being in a developing country is not the conditions. I don't really need the hot showers, the spacious cars or the sterilized food.

The hard part is the negative feelings you sometimes get. Overwhelming sadness about a world where one child can grow up malnourished, for nothing he or his parents ever did wrong. Pity for the man with bandaged feet on the street begging for a spare centavo. Anger over the corruption and misguided policymaking that often only perpetuates the cycle of poverty. Guilt for having had a full stomach and a warm bed all this time. Shock that in a world so diverse, there could still be so much racism, especially toward the people who lived here first--the Quechuas, Aymaras and the Amazonians.

But obviously I'm not the one suffering here.  In the past three decades, Peruvians have suffered one of the most vicious internal conflicts in South America, a devastating economic crisis that, at one point, meant annual inflation of 4,100% and a dictatorship that eroded away the country's institutions. 

In the past few years, Peru's economy has been growing rapidly compared to other Latin American countries. Many people are expanding their business, adding another floor to their brick houses and sending their kids off to one of the many local technical institutes. 

Peruvians want their country to grow, but they see so many challenges. With such a tumultuous past, it's easy to understand why they would be cynical.  But cutting through that cynicism, I see their hopes and expectations for the future. These people have a lot of guts, after everything they've been through. 

No comments:

Post a Comment