This week marked an “Aha!” moment in my scope of work—and a run-in with protesters in the province of Bellavista. When Don, Abhishek and I met with
TechnoServe’s Peru country director last week, we were cautioned that the scope of our work will change as we become more immersed in our projects.
I came to a mutual conclusion with the TechnoServe Tarapoto staff that an “online, one-stop center of financing mechanisms” would not be feasible or
practicable at this point. Of course it was a disappointment to me, but the reasons became more apparent as I met the cooperatives and entrepreneurs that
TechnoServe works with, as most don’t have computers or Internet access or manpower.
On Thursday, I was excited about meeting the TechnoServe staff at 4:30 am for a 7-hour journey south to a city called Tocache. We planned a field visit to
meet with several cooperatives, and to touch base with the TechnoServe staff stationed there. After running into traffic, our driver signaled to the rest
of us to stay in the car while he figured out what was going on. “It’s a protest by the residents of Bellavista,” he explained. “They blocked the roads so
that no cars can pass.” Hardly 10 minutes later we were stopped in a similar manner, this time with no police in sight to witness protestors littering
large rocks and setting fire to tree saplings in the middle of the road. We later learned that protesting in rural regions such as Bellavista are common to
get Peruvian government to pay attention to the needs of its people.