Tough Cookie – Tasha Prados, Peru 2011-2013
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Since leaving Peru, Tasha Prados founded Duraca Strategic, a business and marketing strategy company. Tasha wants organizations that are doing good for the world to have access to expertise from a skilled partner that can help those organizations. She recently left her full time job and will be traveling the world as a digital nomad while running Duraca Strategic. We go back to the beginning, her service in the Peace Corps.
Photos from Tasha’s Service
Tasha Prados’s Peace Corps Story
Where and when did you serve? What did you do?
I was a Water and Sanitation Volunteer in rural Peru from 2011-2013. I worked with the local community to increase access to potable water, build a small town’s first sewage system, build improved cookstoves for women cooking on open fires, reduce trash burning, improve recycling, plant trees, and start composting. I did health and hygiene education, worked with local nursing students on HIV prevention, and taught English, vocational orientation, and exercise classes. You can see more of what my service was like in this video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z8rS2KLgx-s
What is one of your favorite Peace Corps memories?
I have so many great memories from the Peace Corps. One of my favorites is going to my host dad’s gold mine with him and my host mom. We hiked up to the mine all together. I was the first woman inside the mountain. We left sacrifices of fruit for pachamama (mother earth) and to thank the mountain for her bounty.
What is one of your least favorite Peace Corps memories?
I did an improved cookstove project for women cooking on open fires. The cookstoves improve indoor air quality so the family isn’t inhaling smoke, and they improve fuel efficiency, so the women can use less wood — better for the environment and their wallets. The first cookstove we built was in a local comedor popular (popular eatery) — a bunch of women work together to pool resources; they take turns cooking for the whole group. The women committed a lot of time and resources to building the stoves — they came to five workshops on health and sanitation, and got materials for the stove: adobes, mud, ash, and woodchips. The day we build the stoves was one of the best days of my service — all of us working together — women, husbands, kids — towards a common goal. The next day I came to the comedor popular to light the stoves and…they didn’t light. That was one of the worst days of my Peace Corps service. All the women had trusted me. I had convinced them to invest time and resources in this endeavor, and now — it had failed. Every day I came back and we tried to light the stoves. Finally, after four days, they lit! And they are still using them to this day.
What do you miss about Peace Corps?
In Peace Corps, every day was an adventure. I’d wake up thinking I knew what I’d be working on that day — a needs assessment or a sewage system — and then the day would turn out completely different, whether it was being invited to be the madrina (godmother) of a footbridge, or going with some friends to the chacra (field).
What is something you learned in the Peace Corps?
Peruvians are so kind and welcoming. You enter someone’s home, and they invite you to sit down and offer you something to drink or eat. They make it a point to say hello and goodbye. When they invite you to a meal, they pay. I try to bring that same warm welcome and help people feel comfortable and at home.
Do you have a favorite quote or local saying that you’d like to share?
“Asi es” — that’s the way it is.