“Their school now is a dirt floor and plastic over their heads,” said Marisol Garcia, a member of the Association of Latin American Students, of the children attending classes in the Andes mountains of Peru. “The government has even stopped subsidizing money for food for them.”
But ALAS helped to change all that Sunday when it sponsored a Peña event to raise money toward building a school for the poor children of the South American country.
“We are getting an education here at GCC,” said club member Peggy Vadillo. “That is not something as easily achievable in other parts.”
Collectively, the club raised $5,000 through this event and donations and a carne asada barbecue it held in October.
“There was an overwhelming outpouring of generosity,” said Carlos Ugalde, adviser of ALAS and professor of Latin American studies. “One person contributed $1,000 and some sent in checks.” Ugalde said that in June he and an associate, Rosa Carillo, will go personally to Peru to deliver the funds to Kkpachamay, a committee in the Andes near Cuzco – 14,000 feet high in the Andes.
The committee plans to build a three-room schoolhouse with a facility for volunteer teachers next to it, said Ugalde.
Peña served food along with crafts and music to a crowd of about 150 supporters in the J.W. Smith Student Center. The club charged a $5 entrance fee for students and $10 for working adults. ALAS also accepted donations.
Among the food served was papa la huancaina, a typical Peruvian dish alongside dishes from El Salvador and Mexico.
The band Xochisoneros, with members Efren Luna, Hector Marquez, Andy Sanchez and Nikki Nakeilta, performed music from Mexico.
Then Runa, with members Cecilia Bohorquez, Brian Bastidas and Mario Torrico, entertained the audience with songs in Ketchua, a Peruvian dialect.
Among other songs Runa performed “Flight of the Condor,” a Peruvian song indigenous to the Andean people.
“We had a Latin American musical and poetic evening,” said Ugalde. “A Bohemian cafe kind of gathering.”
Ugalde said he feels “greatly indebted” to ALAS for coordinating the event.
“Sometimes we think just within GCC,” said Garcia. “This is great because we are extending out into the world.”
The next Peña, to be scheduled in May 2003, will go towards raising money to build a school in Nicaragua.