Welches in Peru

Welches in Peru
Our family (November 2018)

Sunday, 7 April 2019

Diospi FM now On Air in Puno!

Sunday 07 April 2019

I am proud to announce that on Monday 01 April 2019 at 5:22pm I switched on Diospi Suyana Puno FM 103.7 MHz.


This is our 6th Diospi Suyana FM transmission site, which according to the 2017 Peru Census, is home to some 128,637 inhabitants.  But our reach is beyond just the city of Puno and so per my originally tabled population estimates, we believe we will reach conservatively 200,000 including the surrounds of Puno.  A more optimistic estimate is as high as 300,000 inhabitants are in our FM coverage area.

Our Puno FM computer coverage prediction.
This is a prime FM site for Diospi Suyana as is a significant patient intake district for the hospital (as of Friday 5 April, our register shows 46,084 patients came from Puno).  And for the Gospel message to go forth 24 x 7 x 365 for all to hear - the rich the poor, the permanent and the visitor alike.
 
The thriving city of Puno viewed from the main highway access.
This view is from our transmission hill, reminding us that our radio coverage reaches the very poor as in the foreground (showing a typical Quechua farmer’s house) to those more well-to-do in the city further afield.
Our installation took some 7 full days including the 10 hour scenic road trip over a 4,335 metre snow caped mountain pass alongside the railway line which services Puno with tourists.

Our installation went relatively well except for our satellite telemetry modem which for some reason was faulty out of the box.  So until a replacement unit arrives, this site’s security will rely on the security guard who lives amongst the towers on the transmission hill overlooking Puno.  And the supply utility Electro Puno installed a supply cable sufficient for not much more than a light bulb, and not a medium power FM transmitter system load, as we had well documented with them from the outset.  So we had to use our supply of larger cable (very expensive) which we brought with us to upgrade their supply back to their pole.  We then had to purchase more cable to cover the shortfall in our installation.  It’s not fair, but that’s how things work in Peru.
 
Our equipment delivery truck arrives to unload before a heavy rainstorm reaches us.
All hands on deck to unload the heavy boxes – here we are unloading the satellite antenna.
Here Oebele de Haan stands on the scaffolding we brought to upgrade the Electro Puno supply authority power cable.
The FM antennas get installed by our contractor’s riggers.
I install the 2.4m C-Band satellite antenna with the help of a local school teacher.
We are out for dinner in Puno, and I am alarmed to see people setting up business on the active train line.  Sadly here there is a total lack of safety understanding and/or law enforcement in Peru.
Oebele and Isaias install the electric fence around the Diospi Suyana FM compound wall.
We have some curious local visitors during our work.
Doris attends supportive churches in Puno who are excited about Diospi FM radio commencing soon!
The RF feeder cable is prepared to be hauled up the tower.
Oebele installs the 4th CCTV security camera and strobe light on the tower.
Here I hang around conducting the final installation inspection of the FM antenna system J.
I found the RF radiation levels too high from the other 55 towers on our hill over Puno, and would have damaged my R&S ETL test instrument.  So unfortunately I could not fully test our FM antenna at this site but no reflected power and achieving the predicted coverage was a sufficient indicator in this case.
Our team take a moment for the traditional service commencement photo in front of our transmitter, 5:22pm Monday 1 April 2019.
Glancing over the fence, I see not all transmitter sites are created equal.
A main street of Puno where Quechua farmers make their way to sell at the weekend markets.
Here Quechua vendors make stalls for the tourist trade on the side of the Panamericana highway at the 4,335m snow caped mountain pass between Puno and Cusco.
Here Oebele, Doris and I arrive back at Diospi Suyana late on Wednesday afternoon, 3 April.
I am delighted that this 6th FM site completes the prime objective for our 3 year mission term in Peru with Diospi Suyana.  It has been a lot of hard work and a testing time, not only for me but Sandi and all of our family.  With language, culture and missing family and friends back home in Australia.  But also incredibly rewarding and enriching.

Again I want to say a huge thank you to all our supporters who have made this work possible!  We look forward to catching up with hopefully all of you during the course of this year that we are back in Australia.  And as previously, my love and thanks for Sandi keeping life running smoothly back at home with our great kids whilst I am away on these installation trips.

And not overlooking thanks for the one true God, who is always faithful to His promises.  As noted at the beginning of this Welch family journey to Peru, the one of special note given to us is this, of which we have quoted and assured ourselves with countless times;

I lift up my eyes to the mountains—
where does my help come from?
My help comes from the Lord,
the Maker of heaven and earth.
He will not let your foot slip—
he who watches over you will not slumber;
(Psalm 121:1-3)

And I can testify He has done just that for all of our family.

For now, we are all busy with packing up house and selling many things that we cannot store for our pending return in 2 weeks’ time.  Sandi has had a garage sale here whilst I was away and I have since travelled to Cusco to try to sell our car.  As well I have additional upgrade works to try and complete in Curahuasi and Casabamba. 

Please pray for us that all this goes smoothly including our flights to Australia.  Not to mention that we find a suitable home in which to live.

Chris

Tuesday, 12 February 2019

Our House in Curahuasi - Access to Video

Tuesday 12 February 2019

Dear all our emailed blog followers,

It seems that our automated emailed blog post from yesterday did not include the video - sorry!

For this you need to view our original blog post via your web browser.  The short cut is to simply click on this link;

http://welchesinperu.blogspot.com/2019/02/our-house-in-curahuasi.html

Saludos,

Chris (aka Welches in Peru IT Administrator J)


Monday, 11 February 2019

Our House in Curahuasi

Monday 11 February 2019

Today we recorded a brief video of our farm house in Curahuasi (this was done prior to moving out a bunch our furniture which we have sold, as we prepare to return to Australia for our first furlough on 21 April, 2019 after almost 3 years in Peru).

We hope you enjoy this glimpse into our home life in Curahuasi these past 26 months.


(Please be patient when clicking on the video for the first time, as it may take time to load)

Blessings,

Chris, Sandi and clan

Sunday, 3 February 2019

Diospi FM On Air in Echarati

Thursday 31 January 2019

As of 7:01pm Tuesday 29 January, Diospi Suyana is on the air in Echarati district on FM 107.1 MHz.  This is our 5th FM site and so we now cover an additional 40,000 people. 


We left Curahuasi on Tuesday 22 January to see the long line of patients standing in the rain waiting for a ticket to enter Diospi Suyana hospital and receive first world professional medical care.
 
Patients line up to receive help from Diospi hospital - many choose to sleep out on the footpath.
Echarati is over 6 hours’ drive from Diospi Suyana in Curahuasi, and is in the region of Cusco on the descent from the Andes into the Amazon rainforest.  The town of Echarati officially sits at 1,010m above mean sea level and has a tropical climate averaging 24°C.  As the temperature does not change much throughout the year, there is simply a wet season and a dry season.  The wet season is from December to March, and so our installation was unsurprisingly damp.  A common hazard at this time in all these mountainous regions is road washaways and landslides.  When leaving Curahuasi, we narrowly escaped (by 2 minutes) a major landslide which dumped tonnes of rock and gravel across the Panamericana highway.

 A week before our Echarati trip, a torrential downpour took out this major bridge on the highway delaying us an hour to pass over a makeshift causeway.
Our Diospi Hilux waiting in line for an hour to pass the bridge washaway.
Our transmission equipment delivery truck got bogged accessing our mountain top site after heavy overnight rains.
This has been the most tiring installation yet for us, as we spent nearly 3 hours each day to drive to and from our the closest city of Quillabamba which has a civilised hotel (clean, dry, hot water and access to safe food vendors).  This makes for long days and overall, an extended installation.  In fact it took us 10 days straight of typically 15+ hour days to complete our work.

And we seemed to have our fair share of challenges for this site, not the least being site construction problems.  We were assured the site was complete and ready with some low resolution photos, but the reality was unfortunately different.  We walked into the transmission room to wade through water due to a hopelessly inadequate roof and the heavy nightly rain that is normal during the wet season.  Poor construction skills, skimping on materials, and extremely low grade materials are common in Peru.

It also flooded during our installation before a new building contractor upgraded the thin plastic sheet with metal corrugation sheets and professional flashing.
Local farmer’s trucks get bogged on the causeways of our Echarati FM site access road after torrential rains bring down gravel and rocks.
Due to the remoteness we have installed an electric fence and wall vibration sensors to detect break in attempts.
Our telemetry system which reports remote site data back to our Media Centre in Curahuasi, is becoming more and more complex with more sensors at each site.  In addition to the normal security features of infrared movement sensors, for we have now included an electric fence, wall vibration sensors and a smoke sensor.  The first site of these new additions is Echarati and I want to acknowledge the help from Steve Schilg of Maximation in Australia who has invaluably helped me to continue our telemetry expansion with programming the TBox product. 

In addition we always remotely monitor the FM transmitter health, our satellite system, uninterruptable power supply (UPS) and 4 x CCTV cameras at each site. 
 
Finally our FM antenna is installed along with our new metal roof sheeting properly fitted to make our site weatherproof.
Here my German mission colleague Christian Oswald and I commence assembly of our 2.4m C-Band satellite antenna.
Our Echarati 30m tower with 4 element FM antenna nearing completion.
Here is our scenic view to the North West (away from Echarati) from our FM site with the Urubamba River winding through the valley 1.1km beneath us.
Here is our elated Diospi Suyana team at the moment of FM transmission commencement – from left to right is Christian Oswald, Doris Manco, me and Cristobal Pancorbo.
Doris gets out of the car to mark the southerly limit of our Echarati coverage.
Our first fruits of this installation was during the return trip, when we crossed the 4,316m mountain pass of Quillabamba. At this point Cristobal gives his heart to serve Christ – it was an emotional moment for us.  Since then our Curahuasi media Centre have fetched an endless number of calls and messages (WhatsApp) thanking Diospi for commencing our program in their region, and with so many calls for us to pray for difficult life situations people find themselves in here.  Despite my exhaustion from this installation, and the sacrifice of family back home – it is so worth the effort. 

I also wanted to acknowledge my wife Sandi who does the most amazing work “keeping the fires burning” in coping with day to day running of the house.  During my time away in Echarati, back home we had the suspension break on our van (meaning she had to resort to 3 wheel moto-taxis in and out of town), we had a water pipe burst, we had mice in our mud brick house – all of which Sandi takes in her stride.  In addition Sandi is managing the education of our 7 kids at home as they start school again now with distance education from Australia, running in and out of town over and over each day, baby sitting another families’ 2 infants and a baby on Tuesdays as they both work at Diospi Suyana, packing preparation for our return to Australia in April (our first return in 3 years), and managing so many other things.  She is the most incredible gift and soul mate for me, and I love her dearly.

Here our 2 year old Stacey is fascinated with a mouse in our house that Isaac caught while I was away.
Saludos,

Chris

Monday, 17 December 2018

Some Brief Progress Updates and our Christmas Greetings

Tuesday 17 December 2018

It has been too long since I updated you on progress.  But largely because it has been a busy period for me preparing for site installations between many trips to and from all our transmission sites for maintenance.  In this time I have travelled to our remote FM sites of Puerto Maldonado 5 times, Casabamaba 2 times, and Andahuaylas 3 times.  Mostly this is a long drive, but sometimes a 35 minute domestic flight can be taken in the case of Puerto Maldonado, instead of a 12 hour drive due to multiple mountain passes, one to almost 5,000m and seemingly endless hairpin bends.

Incidentally flying is not always a safe bet in Peru due to poor maintenance and the general lack of any quality education even amongst the airlines.  For example one trip I took in November was a comedy of problems making a one day flight to/from Puerto Maldonado into 3 days.


Here is a link to a Diospi Suyana web post by Klaus on that trip:
https://www.diospi-suyana.de/mal-ganz-ehrlich-wuerden-sie-in-dieses-flugzeug-einsteigen/?lang=en

To drive there are often serious landslides in the wet season (the above was typical for some 20km distance on the only highway route to Puerto Maldonado), and/or diesel fuel shortages due to government mismanagement.
Sometimes our transport needs to be via Moto-taxi – here in the wet season in Puerto Maldonado my helper Christian Oswald needs get out and push it up an incline.
I have had some FM transmitter issues at two of our sites for various reasons which I have now addressed to avoid reoccurrence.  And another issue with our satellite telemetry equipment where I have been working with our German satellite modem manufacturer to resolve.  For those technical people, I found it an interesting problem where the modem does not start up automatically after a bad power break.  “Dirty” power switching events are common in Peru, and I suggest much more rare in developed countries – hence the oversight.  I believe we are close to a resolution on that issue also.
 
Another 6 hour drive to our Casabamba FM site, now with a security guards’ hut to the front left.
On this trip my son Isaac accompanied me to learn more about broadcast transmitters.
We were hoping to have installed our 5th and 6th FM sites of Puno and Echarati before Christmas, alas not so.  For both sites the towers are built and the shelters and walls completed.  But Echarati has suffered delays with its power connection by the supply authority.  Excessive rain has hampered access and the latest date we have is 24 December!  Needless to say we are installing that site now in January.  And Puno has been delayed by licence administration issues as previously reported in my earlier blogs.  But we have now received the license after more than half a year of delays and bureaucracy.  But I have used some parts from the Puno transmitter for spares to fix other sites, and so we are now awaiting those replacement parts from Italy.  They are months late in arriving, and so Puno will also be installed now early in the New Year.

Furthermore our Centro de Medios studios new floor expansion is powering ahead and due for completion by February 2019.  Per my 06 August blog post including a picture of the floor plan, this will provide another 12 offices for more media staff, a small TV studio and 2 small radio recording studios.
 
The new 3rd floor is nearing completion with roof on and rendered walls.
Screeding the floors to make them level and cover the electrical conduits.
There are no cement mixers or concrete pumps here – everything is done with hard labour.
Our Centro de Medios team - from left to right: Carlos, Rebecca, Keila, Edson, Margot, Chris, Doris, Dr Klaus, Yesenia, Jesus, Raul and Reynaldo.
But now Christmas is all but here.  Last Thursday night Diospi Suyana hosted the appreciation party for all its paid staff.  This was held in the hospital and is always well received by all including seasonal hamper handed out to each.  We ate roasted turkey and enjoyed lovely live choir music and instrumentals played by our German doctor friends featuring the violin and keyboard.
 
Dr Klaus personally hands out one of many staff Christmas hampers on the night.
And we hosted the Centro de Medios Christmas party in the garden we had made from the orchard at our case la hacienda.  Sandi made pavlovas for dessert (with whipped cream and diced fruit on top) and this was a huge hit with our Peruvian and German guests.  They had not experienced nor heard of "pavs" before.  It was a beautiful afternoon with music, good food and laughter.

Sandi dishing out her pavlova – the most amazing cook in Curahuasi!
Our Centro de Medios garden Christmas party with their families.
But there are a few sad things about Christmas in Peru that I need to mention.  The first is that there are virtually no Christmas decorations, festivities or music in the town.  So it does not “feel like Christmas” here.  This is because of the predominantly Peru Catholic environment we live in where they consider Mary more important than the one true God found only in Jesus Christ.

The other thing that is sad for us is that we miss our family and friends from Australia so very much.  But the good news is our eldest son Jake is coming to visit us after a year in Australia, and we are so looking forward to that.  I will collect him from Cusco airport on Thursday.

So let me take this moment to wish each and every one of you a blessed Christmas, full of love, joy and peace as you hopefully get to spend it with your loved ones.  And a safe holiday and prosperous New Year to you.

Finally THANK YOU so much for your amazing support which enables our work to proceed here, to make a profound difference impacting an estimated 400,000 lives primarily through our existing 4 FM radio transmission 24 x 7.  And with much expansion due next year to reach over a million people.

With love from us Welches in Peru!