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Peru Days’ to aid quake victims

Dennis Slater | Wednesday, February 6, 2008

On Aug. 15, 2007, a powerful earthquake killed more than 500 people in the region just south of Lima, Peru. Today, the Kellogg Center for International Studies will start auctioning the work of internationally acclaimed Peruvian photographer Guillermo Rivas to benefit the victims of the tragedy.

In exhibition at the Great Hall of the Hesburgh Center for International Studies since Jan. 28, Rivas’ photographs focus on the colorful Feast of the Virgin of Candelaria, which is going on now in the Andean town of Puno, near Lake Titicaca. The artist’s daughter, senior Andrea Rivas Dreyfuss, obtained his permission to organize the exhibit and auction the prints. The display and the silent auction – which starts today and ends Feb. 13 – are part of Peru Days, a celebration of the country’s culture put on by the Kellogg Institute and a group of Peruvian students.

Peru Days expands on last year’s Peru Day – also organized by the Kellogg Institute – to educate the campus community about “the richness of Peruvian culture and, of course, about its delicious and varied cuisine,” Rivas Dreyfuss said.

“Very few people know much about Peru and its three totally different regions in the coast, the Andes and the Amazon jungle so we wanted to teach people,” she said.

She and fellow student coordinator Claudia Barbachan helped plan tonight’s Peña Criolla, an event with free food, music and demonstrations on Afro-Peruvian dancing. The areas most affected by August’s earthquake – the cities of Chincha and Pisco – are also the birthplaces of this form of dance and music, Rivas Dreyfuss said.

The U.S. Geological Survey National Earthquake Information Center said 80 percent of Pisco was destroyed during the two-minute earthquake.

“When I visited the areas hit hard after the earthquake, people were sleeping on the streets and plazas because even if their houses had survived, they could crumble at any moment,” Rivas Dreyfuss said.

She hopes the silent auction raises money for the victims.

“We are hoping people will begin to bid on [Rivas’ photographs] for this charity,” Rivas Dreyfuss said.

Her father’s photographs had previously been displayed in Lima’s National Museum and during China’s world-famous Pinyao international photography festival in 2006.

“So whatever the photos end up going for, it will be a steal,” Rivas Dreyfuss said.

Peña Criolla will begin at 6 p.m. today at the Hesburgh Center Main Hall. Peru Days will run until Feb. 13 when the silent auction ends. That same day, there will be a screening of the film “Dias de Santiago” in the Hesburgh Center auditorium. Filmmaker Josue Mendez will present the movie and answer questions.