My alarm rang at 5:30am, after going to bed only a couple of hours earlier (which I will briefly explain in a bit), and Eric and I walked down the stairs of our hotel and through the empty streets of Tingo María to the TechnoServe offices. It is our last week in Tingo María, and we had to meet with three farmers that day who are currently receiving credit from Agrobank, a local finance institution. We were met at the TechnoServe offices by Jery and Michael, representatives from Agrobank, as we piled into the pick-up truck and drove outside the city. That morning, we gained more insight into how the program can be improved, including by coupling the loans with financial trainings to improve the farmers’ financial understanding.

Our cultural experience this week was experiencing a Peruvian birthday party. On Wednesday, Jhony, a member of the TechnoServe staff, invited us over to his house to celebrate his birthday with his family, friends, and colleagues. The party began at 8:30pm, and we were welcomed to his house by a table of food (homemade bread, potato bites, animal crackers, olives, postres, marshmallows, and gum), drinks, and the opportunity to spend the next two hours enjoying Peruvian music.


At around 10:30pm, the music stopped, everyone stood up, and Jhony’s wife held the birthday cake in front of Jhony. I thought it was time for the candles to be lit and happy birthday to be sung, but instead, it was time for friends and family to say a word about Jhony. After people shared, the cake was smashed in his face (a Peruvian tradition), friends threw frosting at his head, and a plastic bat and blindfold were given to him. I was puzzled by the blindfold and bat at first, but should have remembered from birthday parties when I was younger that they are obviously for a piñata. As we were about to leave at 11:30pm after the cake and piñata, the music went back on and we were handed a plate of chicken and potatoes…it was dinner time. All of this to say, we got to bed late that night before our 5:30am wake up call.

The Volunteer

Parker Werline

Associate, Client Facing

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