World Vision visit in Huaraz

B eing able to visit a World Vision sponsored child and his / her community is a privilege and a pleasure, being able to visit two is double. Our visits were arranged through WV at very short notice, but were surprisingly well organised and appropriate.

One of the things that attracted me to WV for child sponsorship was their focus on improving the child’s community for the whole community. Naturally, when you sponsor a child, you have a particular interest in that child’s wellbeing, progress and future opportunities. I was pleased to see that WV clearly recognises that the sponsored children will best benefit overall from some basic improvements to their community. The improvements that I have personally witnessed include access to clean drinking water, facilities to improve general cleanliness and healthy cooking, and holistic education that goes well beyond the classroom.
We requested visits to the two children we sponsor with some trepidation. In some ways we would rather be anonymous donors, giving the relatively small amounts each month so that the workers and communities can get on with the work they need to do without having to overtly demonstrate their gratitude to the foreign patrons who, through luck of birth and opportunity, have so much more, but there is another side.

We chose to sponsor one, then a second child in Peru specifically because I have always had a fascination with Peru and because I speak Spanish. My first attempts to visit Peru were as a backpacker in the 1980s, but travel to Peru at that time was difficult and dangerous, so I postponed the trip. I felt that sponsoring a child in Peru would be a small contribution to helping Peru recover from its very difficult period, and on a more personal and selfish level, would give me further motivation to visit. It worked, at least on one level.

We first visited Peru in 2009, as part of a longer trip through a few countries in South America. A major focus of that trip was to do the Inca Trail, starting, of course, in Cusco, the Ancient Incan capital. It was luck that Saul, the boy we then sponsored, lived in the outskirts of Cusco, so visiting him was easy and didn’t throw out our (loose) plans at all. If he had lived much further north we may not have visited, but neither he, nor WV would have known that, so no one would have been disappointed.

Our next visit to Peru was in April and May of this year. Again, we gave WV quite short notice of our desire to meet the children we sponsor, but again they managed to organise both trips. The first was to Cristian, a young boy who lives on the outskirts of Lima with his parents, older sister and baby brother.
Out second visit came 5 weeks later in Huaraz, a small Andean city north east of Lima. Visiting Carmina gave us the opportunity to go to another area of the Andes that we would probably not have visited otherwise, where we got to see a small but bustling city, spectacular snow capped mountains and beautiful farming countryside with more fascinating ancient ruins. We also got to meet some lovely people, both locals from Huaraz and a different breed of travellers; mostly travellers of the mountain climbing variety.

Carmina 11, lives on the outskirts of Huaraz on a small farm with her two younger brothers and her father. On this trip we made our own way to Huaraz and did not have the interpreter, but the local WV staff made everything easy and comfortable. Again, we met Carmina and her aunt in the local WV office, but we were also treated to a visit around the local community to see what WV has been up to. We visited the humble, one roomed adobe house of a family who cooked us a lunch on their WV built, woodfired stove, and proudly showed off their fly-screen covered food storage cupboard, also supplied by WV. Before that stove was built, this family cooked on stones on the floor of their house. Carmina and her family live in beautiful countryside, but in obvious poverty.

Carmina does not have her mother around and has taken on the responsibility of looking after her younger brothers, including cooking for them, taking them to school and helping them with their school work. From my visit I could not really say whether she is happy with her lot or not, but I could see that she had support from her community, particularly her aunt, who lives near by. Carmina is clearly a girl who is willing and capable of taking on responsibilities far beyond what might be expected of a girl her age. We are pleased to be able to constructively support that in some small way.

We are also pleased that both Cristian and Carmina know that there are people from Australia; a country they knew either very little, or nothing about before, who care about who they and their families are and what they do. We can’t visit them regularly, but we can and do keep in touch, with letters and photos. Now these letters and photos we exchange have a lot more meaning for all of us.

Written following our visits in April and May of 2013.

Belinda Bold & Michael McGann from Australia.

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