On Sunday, February 25th, more than 100 users, ex-users, educators and ex-educators got together for the “II Encuentro de Experiencias y Deportes”. After more than 25 years of existence, it was the opportunity to meet again and bring back memories.
As I sat at one of the tables, I began to listen to an interesting conversation while waiting for lunch time. I was surrounded by former users and unintentionally I heard their discussion; they were happy to meet again after so many years spent outside Qosqo Maki. For others, it was a little less time, but everyone was very happy to have come to this meeting. Maria was talking to Percy when suddenly they stood up from their chairs as if propelled by a spring as Pedro entered the dining room. They took each other in their arms and greeted each other: “Hello promotion,” “It’s good to see you prom.” For those who have ever had the honor of wearing a uniform, whether it is a military or institutional uniform, we know that calling someone “promotion” means that this person has somehow marked our life whether by cohabiting daily with him, by following together a difficult training or by living together many adventures.
I felt what the people who are present in an act that goes beyond the reunion and the nostalgia feel: it was a meeting to thank those who one day were part of a “collective”. When, during their early childhood, when they thought that no one saw them, that no one noticed them, they were in fact not alone. While they felt deep loneliness, they were about to discover “la chocita”, the dormitory of Qosqo Maki.
As we shared the meal, with more confidence, they began to remember every experience, every anecdote, every situation. And I, faithful to my practice and way to intervene, I secretly put myself in their memories: María remembered how we, educators, would take them to college to enroll them so that they could resume their studies. However, the lack of documents, the lack of patience of the teachers and the intransigence of some comrades or even the need to work more to live, to dress, to eat would end their desire to continue their studies. The illusion was postponed to the following year.
María remembered her many attempts to go back to school, but to no avail… She is now mother of two children and owns a small business. She explained that she had never been able to finish high school, and even less to pursue a professional or technical career, but what she learned on the street and what she experienced at “la chocita” have been useful to make more and more effort day after day and helped her to be more responsible to plan and develop her own business.
Percy surprised me with his thought that was much deeper: “having lived in Qosqo Maki has served me to be a better father now”. As a child, he and his siblings were abandoned by his father, and his mother’s lack of work aggravated the problem. In addition to that, his mother’s new partner, with whom he did not get along, was Percy’s reason for leaving home. He explained, “I had to go to the main square to find a job and I was sleeping at the central market on the floor. I was twelve years old. At this age, nobody gives you work: they abuse you and lie to you and when you complained, they would call the police and the judge would send you to live in a children’s home. The judge would talk to my mother and she would told him that I had to work to live and make my little brothers and sisters live. They wanted me to study but I was hungry and I wanted to buy clothes. On top of that, there were a lot of rules and norms, so I escaped to see my brothers and sisters and to go to work. I have been several times a kitchen clerk, assistant in carpentry, shoe stores, always thinking that the day I would have children, I would give them everything I can. That’s why I worked a lot and was able to finish high school. Then I continued my graduate studies at the Technological Institute. Today I am a mechanic, I love my two children and make them live worthily. “
The opportunity he had at Qosqo Maki to find a place to sleep, have breakfast, wash clothes, shower and assume responsibilities and above all, continue to be able to pursue his studies, helped him to be a better person and to achieve the goals he had for the future.
These stories told around the same table during the “2nd meeting of ex users of Qosqo Maki” is a summary of the work and the intervention implemented by community educators at different periods with those whom I designate as the “discreet entrepreneurs” because for the society they do not exist or we want to believe that they do not exist. It is said that child labor is not real, that it is forbidden, but young people in the street will tell you that it is a job to sell nougats, to sing in buses, to wash cars, to unload merchandise in grocery stores and shopping centers.
Education is free but if there is no one helping these young people, this is useless. Health is accessible to all but to be able to benefit from it, you must have an identity document; without documents, each does the best he can. Young people have rights and duties and continue to be considered the future of the country when in reality they are a present rejected by a decadent and corrupted system … Thanks to organizations and institutions like Qosqo Maki, these discrete beings are recognized and valued in their full dimension, allowing them to gain a space in our society.
Jeanni Carpio Medina
Community educator Asociación Qosqo Maki
More pictures of the event in our Facebook page.