Breaking News – Victory

Unterzeichner Poltocsa

Gracias a Dios – Thanks be to God

The total journey of 460km takes nine hours.  Bend follows bend and travel sickness is a fellow passenger.  Five times we drove from Curahuasi to Andahuaylas to find a suitable site for our aerial mast.  We then were able to buy the plot of land.  Then Poltocsa came.

350 houses, most of them roughly a kilometre away from the aerial mountain, 700 grown-up and perhaps 2,300 children.  Six aerial masts already tower on the mountain.  Why does the population not want the seventh one?

“The radio antennae change our climate,” says one group; “Our children will be born deformed,” says another.  “We hear funny noises coming from the mountain at night.  It is an eerie feeling!”  The Quechua people are superstitious, fear dark powers and APU, an unfriendly god who lives in the mountain.  What would Pacha Mama (mother earth) say to the seventh mast?  Why did we recently have such a severe hailstorm?  It must have been due to the antennae.

4 more times Doris Manco and I travelled to Poltocsa to meet the challenge of persuading the inhabitants.  Through two presentations in the city hall we tried to soothe the populus’ anxiety.  We also collected signatures.  Saturday evening: until deep into the night we knock on doors and speak to lone wanderers we meet out and about.  By 10 p.m. we have collected 268 signatures.  Will that be enough?

At 7 a.m. the next morning the “Asamblea general” commences.  175 paterfamilias or their wives must be present.  By 8 a.m. we are nowhere near that number.  The mayor does not allow me to give a Diospi Suyana presentation in the school’s auditorium.  There we would all have had enough space and would not have to bake in the sun.

One after another is granted permission to speak and says he is against Diospi-Suyana-Radio.  Doris, Jose and I have to endure the hostile atmosphere.  Why we are not granted permission to speak, we do not know.  The mayor had promised us beforehand that we would be allowed to give a presentation of our vision.  Were all our efforts and our sweat in vain?  Will all our the hour-long journeys through several nights come to nothing?

As others have arrived there are now 180 Quechuas present and we now have a quorum. But it is clear that we have lost this discussion ages ago.  When the vote will be taken no one present will vote for us.  The populus is terrified of its politicians.  They fear that if they vote for Diospi Suyana the water for their fields will be turned off.  We heard this fear often expressed in the previous weeks.

My tongue clings to the roof of my mouth.  Have we not prayed for days that God would intervene?  Did not the Christians living there say they would support us?  The pastors themselves spent hours during the night praying for us.  That morning I had sent an email to the missionary fellowship in Curahuasi urging them: “Pray for us, we are under great pressure!”

Finally the Alkalde (mayor) grants me permission to speak.  What should I say? “Doris, while I am speaking, can you pray?”  The head of our media centre nods her head.  She would have done so without me prompting her: she had been praying all along.

I have ten minutes.  I start talking about my childhood, about my dream to be a missionary doctor for the poor; I mention my wife Martina, who some of those present know personally.

“We are here to help you,” I call without a microphone into the large crowd.  “We do not care what our bottom line looks like.  We missionaries want to comfort, alleviate and heal!”  I talk about the suffering in the homes in which we have visited and treated people.  “Via our radio we can tell you directly what services the hospital offers and which doctors are there!”

Further verbal contributions follow; most of them are against a Radio Diospi Suyana.  Just before the vote I can address those present one last time: “Dear inhabitants of Poltocsa, it is your choice.  I beseech you that you listen to the voice of your hearts, not to what any leaders here want to tell you!”

The mayor describes how the vote will take place: everyone who goes and stands on the right hand side is for, on the left hand side is against Diospi-Suyana-Radio. It will be a matter of seconds and then we will know for sure that we are personae non gratae and we can leave here once and for all, sad and downcast.  It is best to get unpleasant things over and done with as soon as possible.

But as soon as the vote starts the people flock and stream towards the right hand side.  The queue stretches across the whole schoolyard and along the far wall.  An incredible spectacle.  The vote is crystal clear.  We can hardly believe what we are seeing.  Not a single person, not even those who minutes before had rallied against and criticized Diospi Suyana goes to the left hand side. 108 votes for Diospi Suyana, 72 abstentions.

What a decisive and incredible victory, against fear and superstition, against opposition and intimidation.  A huge stone falls from my heart.  Doris, Jose and I cannot believe what we see.  All the prayers spoken were not in vain.  Thanks be to God. Gracias a Dios

After a four-hour long session being baked in the sun the 180 people present must sign the minutes.  I am one of the last in the line.  In the past few years this is my favourite signature and my dearest document. /KDJ

Klaus unterzeichnet Poltocsa slider
A signature for Diospi Suyana. One of 180.
Unterschriften Foto slider
108 for Diospi Suyana‘s antenna, 72 abstentions.
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