Many people that I talk to about the desperation and poverty of the children and their families here in Peru give me a variety of responses. I now have a whole box of "God bless yous" and two cases of "Good work buddys". There are those contrawise, who have been incredibly generous with their time and funds and materials and have made a huge difference in the lives of these children. I can not say enough to express my deepest gratitude to them. But to understand the mindset of those who know these kids are starving, cold and in desperate need and will not help in any way, I engaged in a Facebook conversation with a friend of mine who has been my friend for 40 years. I respect his opinions as he does mine. We do not always agree. In this exchange he expressed why he was opposed to sending assistance to my project for the children in Peru. I hope the reader will grasp the essence of his comments as well as my response in the spirit that we both had intended as we wrote. (Name withheld for privacy)
As you are aware it takes thousands upon thousands of grains of sand to make a beach. In contacting many humanitarian organizations which have, over the years given millions of dollars, pounds, yen and euros to aid those in dire needs throughout the world, by the time I have arrived with our request, the well has run dry. "Maybe next year" is what I hear from many organizations. "God bless you, you are doing a wonderful work there in Peru" is also a comment I hear many times each week. It is appreciated, albeit anemic. I thank them and turn to the children who suffer from malnutrition, raggedy clothing, a lack of proper shoes and ill healthcare for common maladies that have been cured in the U.S., Canada and Europe years ago and say, "Not today kids, but I will keep asking whoever might help us."
It is hard for them to accept that in a world loaded up with IPods, Blackberries, Plasma screen televisions, exotic vacations and a few cars in the driveway of a house that defies their imaginations, that no one can send a few dollars, euros, or pounds to help them survive another day. I try to explain that if the problem was in their own backyard, if it were someone they knew and cared about, it may be a different story but that they are tucked away in the Peruvian Andes and so far removed from the thinking of the average North American or European, it is hard for them to consider their suffering with any realistic sense of how it actually is for them. There are exceptions. There are the Ted and Jens of the world. The Terrill and Ginas, the Pattys and Kristofs and Chris and Ysas of the world. There are two Canadians who provided bags of childrens vitamins, Max and Veronique who emptied their closet of baby clothes that they no longer needed, Eva who not only gave a bag of used shoes but polished them first. Raphael who provides school materials in exchange for English lessons. There are the Brunis and Dr. DePaz and Dra. Karin and Maria Ines and her husband Augusto who gave us books so desperately needed to teach. Sir William and students from Choco's psychology class who selflessly come to class and counsel children with some very special issues. There are people like Paul, Dirk and Jacky, and Danaan, a trauma specialist who has offered to step up to the plate, Anthula, Gustave, John and his wife, Benkelo, Irma, Rosita and Carlos and Karl and Sherri and The South American Explorers Club, Expatperu.com, and Livinginperu.com and others too numerous to name here but each one is a grain of sand, together making a beach, a bulkhead to stave off the harsh waves of poverty and hunger that the children of Changes for New Hope suffer. So much more needs to happen, so much more needs to be donated and managed and arranged. I have been convinced that it won't be a huge international organization that saves these children, it is going to be each individual grain of sand, perhaps one grain at a time, but it can be done, it must be done, and our work, as long as there are children going to bed hungry, sick, in wet beds from leaking roofs, without a bathroom, a toothbrush, or running water, or even electricity, our work relentlessly continues and I want to thank each grain of sand for every piece of help, large or small, and the selfless time spent with us, which has made a small difference in the lives of children who one day will remember each of us fondly. To each of you I am humbly grateful.
25% of Peruvian children suffer malnutrition. With mounting evidence of the ability of handwashing with soap to reduce instances of diarrhea, The Peru Handwashing Initiative was formed in 2003. The Initiative’s goal is to double handwashing habit and to reduce diarrhea on targeted population. Partners include the Government of Peru, other public institutions, private sector and other donors, among others. The initiative is built upon existing institutional structures: interpersonal efforts of communication are implemented by committed partners, such as the Ministries of Health and Education and NGO’s with health promotion knowledge and ongoing programs