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BUILDING THE FIRST STAIRCASE OF THE SUMMER SEASON
By Ximena Rodriguez
Nadine Heredia is a community in Lima, Peru established in 2012. MEDLIFE has been working in Nadine since its founding and this week we will complete our eight staircase project.
Nadine Heredia Community.
Fabiola Rosales (age 29), is a member of one of the 350 families who have benefited from this project. She has been living in Nadine since 2014 at the highest part of the hill, next to the â€œWall of Shameâ€, a wall emblematic of the class divide in Lima, separating the district of San Juan de Miraflores from Surco which is one of the wealthiest areas in Lima.
Fabiola Rosales holding her baby.
Three days after giving birth to her son Alonso, Fabiola fell on the steep hillside. She believes the community will be better once the staircase is built because it will be easier to climb up and down to her house, and most importantly, it will reduce the number of accidents that occur when children go outside to play with their friends.
The first staircases in Nadine were built by each manzana, or block. This reflected a fragmented sense of unity, community members would only participate in the staircase that was benefiting their street, they would not help other blocks build their staircases. This attitude became toxic to the community; it created hostility between neighbors and also limited their progress. Building a staircase requires a lot of people to mix the cement to form a chain to pass buckets up the hill and level off each individual step. Without the support of neighbors from all streets, building a staircase takes twice as long and may never be finished.
Jose Sanchez (red shirt) working at the staircase.
When Jose Sanchez (age 30) became the community leader of Nadine last year, he set out with one goal: to improve the relationship between the neighbors so the entire community could work together towards a common good. â€œI think this can be achieved by applying something that I learned when I was in school in 2000. One of my teachers said that one of the best ways to motivate people to support you is through facts,â€ says Jose. Jose never misses the weekly Sunday community meeting and tries to involve people in the projects by telling the truth. In Peru, it is very common to find unfinished projects due to organizations who make promises they are unable to keep. In these meetings, if Jose says that a staircase will be built, the community members believe him. When people see you meet the demands of the community, they start to get involved. Jose’s hard work is starting to pay off; in the staircase we’re building this week, we have more community members from all blocks participating than in any other staircase we have built with them.
Despite working night shifts, Jose supervised the staircase project every day and helped the community members and the group of MEDLIFE volunteers in Lima this week. He hopes that teamwork will prevail and that someday the people of Nadine will have the same motivation he does to accomplish every project. â€œTo the community, to the ones who are parents like me, we are inspired everyday to accomplish our inner goal: to provide a better quality of life to our children so that they have a better life than we did.â€