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Teamwork during lockdown in Peru!

The situation in Peru and around the world changes every day. The measures are tightened up again and again to guarantee the safety of the population, which is of course a pitiful but good thing. What consequences this has for our volunteers and students, you can read here!

At this moment, there is a lockdown in which no one is allowed to leave his or her house. Need some groceries? That may only happen between 6 am and 8 am. And also in the evening, a loud alarm sounds to warn people that they have to go inside. It’s like we’re suddenly playing in a movie.

So the lockdown also means that our volunteers and students have to stay at the project. However, this is not a disaster, because this way they can perfectly dedicate themselves to refurbishing the project. The orange and white class have already been given a new layer of paint, all outside walls have been thoroughly polished and a new playhouse is in the making.

Picture of two students painting the playground

Also the borders are still closed. This means that our students, who were called back by their schools, cannot yet return to Belgium. However, they are well informed on a daily basis about the state of affairs by the embassy. They are currently looking for a solution to bring all Belgians who are stuck in Peru back to Belgium. They will probably do this with government flights departing from the air base in Lima. So for the students of Oye LENA it’s just a matter of time and patience for more news about a possible repatriation from Cuzco.

The local public health department is closely monitoring everything. They go all over the village of Curahuasi to check everyone and collect data. They give a phone number that everyone can call when he or she feels symptoms and this way they can come to help immediately. We found this very clever and reassuring! This way we can keep the number of victims in Curahuasi at zero.

As you can read, everything goes pretty smoothly. We use our time to do other things and keep a close eye on the measures we take. For our students it is just a matter of waiting and enjoying the time they can still spend here.

Life under quarantine: a time of rest, boredom and a little bit of loneliness

You know or you don’t know it yet, but a few days ago the President of Peru decided to quarantine all people arriving from Europe to the country for a period of two weeks. This happened with two of our volunteers, a couple from Antwerp who is about to do a four-month internship at Oye LENA. They now stay for two weeks in “home isolation” in the Bed & Breakfast of Casa LENA, without any social contact. They told us how this works with this interesting testimony.

“I have to admit that I initially considered the home insulation situation as a favor and not as a negative thing. Let’s be honest, two weeks in a beautiful room with its own kitchen, bathroom, and a great view. For that, people would put themselves in isolation almost voluntarily!”

Still, it turned out not to be all rosy for the couple. Soon boredom struck. “In Belgium, we are always busy. So it takes some getting used to this special way of life. We try to use our time here in a useful way by continuing to work on our internship and school assignments, but this is not always evident. The combination of rapid distraction and a shortage of mobile data does not make it easy for us.”

The couple also tries to keep themselves busy “offline”, for example by reading a book, cooking extensively or playing a board game. “Yes, real nostalgia! We could really enjoy this in the first few days. It was as if we didn’t notice the whole chaos in the world. We really were in an oasis of peace. A digital detox. But yes, in the meantime it all starts to get a bit boring …”

So boredom strikes. And the two also notice this in their eating habits. “It seems like we’re hungry every minute of the day! A real occupational therapy, I fear.” That is not always fun for them, because of course, they cannot go to the store themselves. “We have to ask the other volunteers every time if they can bring something from the village for us. I think that dependence is one of the worst things about the whole quarantine event, ” they laugh.

The local community is literally scared of us.

But besides boredom and hunger, there is a third factor that comes up in quarantined living: loneliness! For a couple who attach great importance to social contact, the seclusion is a lot to take in. They admit that they can feel lonely from time to time, especially when they see the others having a nice dinner together or going to the market. “Okay, we have each other and we are very happy about that! Nevertheless, it always pleases us when we see a face, even if it is with a two-meter distance or with a window in between! ”

They also have a hard time with the looks they get from others. “The locals here are literally afraid of us. Even though we are not even sick. But we can’t blame them. Health care here is a lot lower compared to Belgium. An outbreak of the virus here would, therefore, be 10 times worse. ” Therefore they take the safe side and do what is expected of them: stay indoors for 14 days until they are sure they are not infected.

However, the couple remains very positive about the situation. They are almost halfway. “We are going to try to make the best of it and enjoy the peace and the beautiful view we have here. Obviously, this will not ruin our entire experience. It is part of our adventure. We are here in a beautiful country and can’t wait to discover it! ”