Reiko from Peru #13 貧しさ(2)


Poverty (2)

I have been hearing that those who live on highlands in Peru have everything but money. When I visited Rosa Pajuelo’s family, I understood a little. They live in Huanuco in a vast land with five cows from whom her mother makes cheese maybe at least once a week. It was towards the end of the rainy season and the land was all green. What we ate together was potatoes, fermented potato soup and boiled potatoes. We ate potatoes with the cheese that Rosa’s mother made. There was no electricity and water was from a small stream in the land. During dry season, her mother has to go to a little far to the river to get water. I’m not sure what else they have except potatoes and cheese. I’m sure they are doing more vegetal productions.



Her family live at about 45minutes’ drive from their village called La Union. They can buy everything necessary there, but it is only if they have money. I heard that they sell animals when they need money. Young people cannot tolerate that way of life and come to big cities, and most of them seem to come to Lima. The señoras of our workshop are mostly the people like that.


They come to Lima without money and without job. There are two señoras whose husbands didn’t have a job and they worked as carriers of items in a market from four or five in the morning till the afternoon. Wives had small children and couldn’t go out to work. They got to know about our workshop and joined us. We were lucky as they were very good at knitting and they learned embroidery quickly. They have sisters in the area and they also joined us.


Most of those people sometimes cannot buy what they need for their children’s school items such as notebooks, ball pens, text books and other necessary things. When they came, they had to build their houses, they had to make a line as early as four in the morning to get water of the day, and so on. It’s a long walk to go to the market from their houses and now they take motor-taxis, but at the beginning they had to walk. They know that they had to prepare nutritious food, but it was very difficult to do so. They need clean clothes, but it was and is not easy for them. When we have visitors, I ask them to bring used clothes and shoes. When I come back from Japan I bring back used clothes that my sister bought in a bazaar. Sometimes they are wearing worn out shoes, and they don’t have enough socks. I notice these days, though, that more members of our workshop are wearing new clothes. 


In most of the families of our workshop members, children are not wearing clothes with holes. When I started this work more than ten years ago, I sometimes hesitated to be very close to them to teach stitches or to talk, as they had bad smell, but now I don’t notice it very much. They change clothes more often and wash themselves also. I don’t ask what they eat, but no one of them or children look undernourished and their children look good.



I wrote sometime ago that more señoras use lipsticks these days. I’m glad that they have room in their mind to think about their own beauty. Some people say “Oh…………..” when I say that I work in Carabayllo that is famous for poverty. I have a very bitter experience that the people of my apartment think that those women who come to help me clean my place could be the robber of clothes they lost. Their suspicion is only because they are poor. They are trying very hard to live better, to give more education to children. There are poor and bad people, but our workshop members are not among them.


I’m supporting a girl to study at a professional school. I would like to find more chances for more children for higher education after secondary school. They need better education to come out of the poverty in which their parents have been struggling to materialize the dream with which they came out of their parents’ house.