visits by “girls on top”
There has been a lot going on at Pilpintuwasi,but as I had to go to university, I didn’t have time to write.
First let me go back to September/October when the Australian “Girls on Top” — Jade, Emma and Saffy — visited us.
They came to help us, and one of the first things they did was to implement a small handcrafts shop at Pilpintuwasi. Until that time we only offered T-shirts to our visitors, and there was no shop, just a little house.
The “Girls on Top” renovated the house, painted it and bought handcrafts from our nearby village, Padrecocha, and also some imported things with butterflies, like hairpins and-slides, butterfly earrings etc. The three young women stayed at the village for 10 days and came everyday to Pilpintuwasi. After leaving,they started to continue their fundraising for us, and just now I got the great news, that they’ll have almost $8,000 for us.
Logically, they want to know what we would do if we get that money, so I just sent them the budget for a new and better fence for our land. We can make a new fence and we also could plant more trees for the monkeys.
December 13, 2005
Here fortunately everybody is fine since the death of Bonzo—yes I was worried about all the animals, as I said—if Bonzo, being apparently so strong could die so fast, what about the others??
So, finally last week I convinced one of the vets of the Primate Centre of Iquitos to come out to Pilpintuwasi and check out the monkeys
Dra Nofre, a lady, came with her family on Saturday and stayed a few hours so to be able to have a look at all the five monkeys we’ve got now, including the baby Howler we received from a fisherman last week (he had killed and eaten the mother), and a small Capuchin monkey, which was left at the orphanage by a Hungarian Tourist who had pitied the animal and bought it from some street children. They had kept the monkey day and night on their shoulders. .He was full of fleas and quite skinny, but he’s very lively and very cheeky with the other monkeys. Unfortunately the tourist didn’t ask the name of the monkey so we call him Tony (Robler calls him Tony Piraña, because Piranhas are what street children who are little robbers are called).
After checking the monkeys, the vet told me that they are all fine and healthy, none of them has a weak lung or heart, and that Chavo is so skinny because he moves so much and doesn’t eat almost any carbohydrates. The vet also said that she has never seen any other monkeys in “captivity” that are in such a good state and evidently happy.
Well, I felt as if a stone had fallen from my heart; Chavo is not sick, as I had worried because of his skinniness. The vet told me to put Vitamin B complex into the drinking water of the monkeys, which might increase Chavo’s appetite.
With the two little monkeys there is a lot of care, feeding , checking where they are etc, so that I’m almost happy to hear that the strike at the university that started again at the end of November will go on for the next week—if not I wouldn’t know what to do with my students. . . on the other hand, if I had known that there are no classes around Christmas, I would have accepted my mother’s invitation to come to Austria for Christmas when she asked me in October.
I’m happy that you got the drawings of the children from Padrecocha and that you like them.
I have to hurry up now as I still have to buy lettuce for the manatee, but I’ll write soon again. I hope everyone is fine.
January 1, 2006
From Girls on Top, Australia
I have seen it written that the Amazon is the last, unwritten page of Genesis. It is indeed a place of mighty forces—some wild and fierce, some delicate.
All these – jungle, rivers, wildcats, monkeys, storms, raindrops and butterflies – are celebrated at Pilpintuwasi. It was this little wonderland that enchanted us three Australian girls into making an expedition to South America to see if we could add a line of our own to that unwritten page. We would climb the mighty ranges of the Huayhuash region in Northern Peru as a way of raising funds to support work at Pilpintuwasi. We called ourselves Girls on Top.
Why would people support us? Because we are average girls doing extra-ordinary things. Because we are celebrating the genius of a bold idea. Because we are passionate, determined and inspired – even though we are unfit, inexperienced, sometimes hair-brained and nervous … just like almost everybody else.
The Girls on Top mission, for almost all of those who were first attracted, proved to be too much. Even before we left Australia the effort of fund raising, attracting sponsors, media attention and whipping sea-level mid-thirties bodies into shape for a two-week high altitude trek exhausted and frightened most early starters. Just three – Emma Hoppe, Saffrine Nydegger and I made the Aerolineas Argentinas flight from Sydney.
Between us we had already shared the vision and the mission with hundreds of people at fund raising events, told the story on television and in newspapers and magazines, created partnerships with businesses who backed and mentored us … and packed butt, calf and mind muscle through months of fitness training and attitude adjustment. The easy part had tested us to the limit, now we faced the real challenge.
Our first mission: to make the 14-day trek through Touching the Void territory, peaking at 5 100m, traversing three massive summits and taking in mud, dust, snow, ice, several avalanches, one earthquake and large quantities of pancake and soup. Huayhuash is breath-taking in more ways than one. If you adore exquisite and pristine mountain trekking, don’t miss it. For us, it was a magnificent journey of indescribable beauty, great team spirit and powerful insight.
It left us, in fact, so motivated that when we made it to Pilpintuwasi to share with news of our adventures with Gudrun, make a donation and learn more about her work, we decided the job was not yet done — there was an Amazon renovation rescue to be done!
Our little team spent a heat wave week in hardware stores, gift shops and painting clothes to renovate, mosaic, equip and stock Gudrun’s little ‘shop’ to help her raise extra funds and make an even warmer welcome for visitors. We started early, with temperatures soaring by 8am and humidity and naughty monkeys making the work … interesting.
As well as a bright new shop and information centre, our cash donation will allow Gudrun and Robler to build a fence around the property to protect their plants and animals, and hopefully make life easier and richer for all the souls at Pilpintuwasi. For myself, I can say that making this expedition – riding out the tough parts and treasuring the smooth – as well as my time and work with Gudrun, has left me richer in ways I never expected.
I feel blessed that we were able to make such an adventure, and that others were inspired enough to help make it possible. I feel proud that people across Australia were moved enough by our team and by Gudrun’s work to donate their time, money and skills to support us all. I feel the wonder still, of snow storms in the mountains, blue lakes amid the rubble, rainbows over the Amazon and the way the flapping of a butterfly’s wing can truly be felt on the other side of the Earth.
You can see more at www.girlsontop.net.au
Special thanks to Village Roadshow, Aerolineas Argentinas, Fitness First, Telstra, Jen Peedom, Julie Raffe and Miriam Jones