This is a post that I have been intending to write for a long time. The problem is there is SO much that I could include, it's hard to narrow it down. There's my personal connection with Peru, the planning process of taking 23 people to another country, months of school fundraisers, putting together the service projects in which we participated, exploring Lima, Cusco, the Sacred Valley, and, of course, Machu Picchu. For this post, I'm going to focus in on service projects, with a little bit of background info. Hold on to your seats...I'll try to be brief. ;)
Background: I, obviously, studied Spanish in college. I studied abroad in Spain and did some internship work in Mexico, but, my Senior year of college (in 2002), was when my connection with Peru began. Peru just kept popping up (more so than other Spanish speaking countries) in conversation, guest speakers in classes, random ads that I would see. It actually became a joke with my roommates that someday I was going to Peru. About half way through that year of school, I began the process of applying with a non-profit organization, Food for the Hungry, to go to work in Peru for a year after graduation. Well, about a month later, I met a guy...I'm sure you know where this is going. I've now been happily married to said guy for almost 11 years. Where is he from? Peru. Some say coincidence, fate, destiny....I say God...but, no matter what your take on it is...it is weird for sure! I didn't go to Peru that next year, but have been many times since. A portion of my heart is in Peru and helping those living in poverty there is an important part of my life.
Every year the middle and high school students at the school where I teach go on overseas trips. When my principal first asked if I would consider leading a trip that would incorporate more service opportunities, I (crazily) agreed. :) This, being my first time leading an out of the country trip, I decided that it would make the most sense for us to go to Peru. I had (have) connections there to help set up projects and the opportunity for students to go to Machu Picchu was definitely a plus. Thus, a year of planning and fundraising began. In the end, a group of 23 students and parents went along on the trip. It was an amazing time for all! Growing up in the Cayman Islands (which is very unlike some other Caribbean islands), many of my students had never seen extreme poverty. It was a very eye-opening experience. I'll detail some of our projects in photos below:
A group shot!
Students had raised money to purchase a wheelchair for Junior, the boy above. He previously had no way to be transported around. We got to deliver the wheelchair.
We made blankets....lots of blanks....200 in all to deliver to a community outside of Lima.
Students carrying blankets on their backs to the place where children had gathered to receive the blankets. We had to hike as our bus could not drive any further up the mountain.
I'm not sure what I was saying to this little guy, but I do remember that the experience was pretty emotional. Over 200 children had gathered for blankets and waited several hours for us to arrive because our blanket making was taking longer than expected.
Happy with her new blanket!
Community outside of Lima.
One of the families that we specifically went to help was Jhonny's family. In short, Jhonny is a Peruvian boy who was born with multiple disabilities. His family lost their home in a rockslide several years ago. Fundraising took place several years ago to build Jhonny and his family a new home. This is the new home. We were helping seal some cracks in the roof and do some clean up around the house.
Working on the roof of Jhonny's house.
Making a new friend inside Jhonny's house.
Outside Jhonny's house.
Some Teachers PayTeachers sellers, organized by Nitty Gritty Science, are donating a portion of their sales this Sunday, December 14th, to a specific charity or cause. I will be sending 100% of my earnings on this day to help Jhonny's family. I am so excited to give back this holiday season! Pick up a Spanish resource or 2 and join me in supporting this family on Sunday. You can see more about the story of Jhonny's family by going HERE.