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Girl Rising - Peru Chapter

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GIRL RISING THE PERU CHAPTER Girl Rising is a feature film that presents the stories of nine young women from around the world, and the critical role education plays in each of their ives. This chapter features Senna, a young woman from Peru Senna plays herself in a story written by celebrated author, Marie Arana. Senna - La Rinconada, Peru “The Black Heralds,” by the great poet Cesar Vallejo. “There are blows in life, so powerful... “I don’t know. “Blows as from God’s hatred; “like a riptide of human suffering, “rammed into a single soul... “I don’t know.” The first time I read that, it took my breath away. The rhythm of it. The force. For me it was unforgettable. Poetry is how I turn ugliness into art, dark into light, fear into will. I didn’t learn this over the years as I learned math or history. I learned it all at once, in a swift kick to my heart. My name is Senna. I am fourteen years old. I study and live in La Rinconada. La Rinconada is a gold mining town in Peru. Perched on the side of a dead volcano 17,000 feet up, in the perpetual snow of the Andes. They tell me my town is harsh, hazardous, the highest human habitation in the world. I don’t know. My father named me after a famous warrior, Xena. He had seen her on TV, but since he could neither read nor write, he didn’t know that her name started with an “X.” He said that, like her, I would grow up to be a fearless defender of the poor, a heroine prepared to go to war against ruthless men, if honor demanded it. If a warrior’s name was my father’s first gift to me, a brave heart was his second. There is no hardship I can’t overcome. My father knew something about brave hearts, for he, like all the men of La Rinconada, was a miner. He comes looking for hope and finds nothing but misery. For every golden ring, 2,000 tons of rock must move. For 35 years, my father drilled and dug, hunted tirelessly for a glimpse of glitter winking in the granite. But this mountain, she will trample the fiercest spirit, shatter the strongest back. I still don’t know what happened that day, but I imagine it. The slam of ice. The rock on rock. The crash, the grind. The sudden black. He survived, but he never returned to the mines. And each day after that, he died a little bit more. I was barely five, but the memory of that day still haunts me, as if a shadow had fallen over my father. As weeks went by and we grew desperate for money, my father became a cook and my mother took his place on the mountain. Every day, she and my sister, joined the women who scrambled their way up steep inclines to pound at rock. Looking for gold the miners had missed, until night fell and cold stiffened their fingers. Still, my father insisted that I go to school, learn all the things he hadn’t. “There is no hope for me,” he would say. “Ah, but there is for you. Make a better person of yourself, Senna. Study.” He made sure I saw what became of many girls who did not go to school. It was impossible not to. Beside every gold buyer’s stall was a loud, raucous cantina. Above every cantina was a busy brothel. Miners squandered their gold as fast as they could find it; drunks staggered out of whorehouses in the full light of day. I had heard about the thousands of girls sold to men in those places, many of them infected with AIDS. They seemed hard-faced, wild-eyed, with an infinite sadness about them. Don’t die. I love you too much! But the corpse-- Ay! He kept on dying. I went to the man who owned La Rinconada’s public toilets and begged him to give me work. My job was to get to the stalls by dawn, wash down each cubicle, scrub out the holes in the floor, and take 20 centavos per person. I could add the earnings in my head as fast as the owner with his calculator. My father beamed when he heard of it. “You see?” he crowed. “You have all the makings of an engineer!” In La Rinconada, the engineers are the bosses, the owners, and the ones with all the money. In truth, I was having a hard time at school. I was too worried to do anything but think about my father. With every day, his health sank to new lows. I told myself I was a warrior, a defender of the weak. He needed me to stay strong. I sang to him, did all his sums. One day my mother told us that she would take my father down the mountain to find a shaman, an herb, anything to slow his racing pulse, stop the bone-rattling cough that was threatening to claim him. I never saw my father again. He collapsed and died in my mother’s arms shortly after they got out of the bus at the foot of the mountain. When my mother told us this, it was as if I had been punched in the chest, as if the ground beneath us had fallen away. For all the years that my family had climbed that frozen rock, for all the gold that had been dug out, burned clean, sent to glitter around the world, we had never owned a fleck of it. We were poor, bone poor - the poorest family in a mud hole of poor people. I cursed the mountain, cursed the mines, cursed the gold buried beneath my feet. And then I found this. This poem about the black heralds of death, about the powerful blows fate can rain on us... I don’t know. Those poems, those words, altered something in me. It was as if I had chanced upon a cache of buried treasure. Each page opened a world. Each line stopped my heart. I memorized every word on every page. Then all the people of the earth surrounded him. The sad corpse gazed at them, touched. Slowly he sat up, embraced the first man, and began to walk. And so I say. In time, I saw that my father had been right all along. I was a fighter, brave; and words made for mighty weapons. I began writing poems. I recited them for all my schoolmates to hear. I even won a poetry contest. I will be the engineer my father always wanted me to be: I will be a poet. I know now that the fortune my father sought so haplessly was always buried in me. It was just a matter of finding it. Fewer than half the girls in the developing world will ever reach secondary school. By beating the odds, Senna is writing a new chapter for girls in Peru. Girls need good schools. And they need to stay. Because a girl with one extra year of education can earn 20% more as an adult. Because women operate the majority of farms and small businesses in the developing world. Educated girls are a powerful force for change. And this kind of change, it happens fast. ONE GIRL WITH COURAGE IS A REVOLUTION GIRL RISING - OWN THE FILM TODAY -

Video Details

Team: Girl Rising
Duration: 12 minutes and 59 seconds
Country: United States
Language: English
Views: 407
Posted by: tertia on Feb 20, 2014

Senna's family struggles to survive in a bleak Peruvian mining town. Her father has dreams for her, and insists she go to school. There, she discovers the transformative power of poetry. Her passion and talent seem to ensure she'll have a better future, and be the success her father dreamed she'd be. Written by Marie Arana and voiced by Salma Hayek. To get involved or see the whole film visit girlrising.com or e-mail [email protected]

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