The Web Women Report from Peru

by | Jun 6, 2007

While I am still digesting the CARE/More Challenge Giving Circle trip to Peru, here’s a dispatch from the heart and mind of Joeann Fossland, who started it all. Reprinted with permission, of course.
My dear, wonderful Giving Circle Members and Sponsors…..
I am almost speechless to describe the impact of the Peru trip on me (& you know how unusual that is!). My heart is full of gratitude to you for helping make it possible. I will be posting on my blog, starting on Wednesday a day by day description of the trip, and I will send you a link to those posts.
I wanted, first, to write to you personally and as a group because this was not something I did, but something we undertook together. You were, most definitely, the wind beneath my wings and I shall be forever thankful. Greater in importance than the wonderful experience of the trip is having the opportunity to see the amazing work that our money is helping support. I want you to know the time you invested last year and the money that you helped raise is going to make a difference in many lives. You should be very proud of each dollar that you raised. In Peru, 52% of the population is living on less than $2 a day. We spent each day visiting projects to see how outside aid is impacting the lives of people who otherwise would not have opportunities to better themselves.
There were 10 of us on the trip plus an official photographer: Peggy and Julie from MORE Magazine, Amanda and Carol from CARE, Peggy’s daughter, [Frannie] who is 13 and born in Paraguay, Fran, Dawn, Molly, Coco and me. We spent 3 days in Lima, seeing projects that Cross Cultural Solutions supported and 3 days in Huaraz, a town at 10,000 ft between 2 gorgeous Andean mountain ranges. The blog will describe each day and each project and I’ll have some pictures.
The Peruvian and Andean people are a joyful, gentle and friendly people. They welcomed us each place we went as if the Queen of England had arrived…..I asked towards the end of the trip, what they had been told about who we were because they provided feasts and tours that made us feel like the most special people in the world. We saw a school high in the hills where one teacher is walking 3 hours each way each day to teach. Where they are letting the girls learn with the boys (still fairly unusual).
What struck me in each project was the lack of focus on the short term aid, but the intent by CARE to produce programs with sustainability with money, time and energy being provided by CARE staffers who were mostly locals who could train and provide support. This was evident from the educational projects that took time to trace the history of the families, to the water project that brought clean running water to a village along with sanitation education that had markedly decreased diarrhea and sickness. We saw artichoke farms, where the families had gotten plants and training to grow a crop that could sell for much more than the corn and potatoes they had been growing. We saw women raising guinea pigs ( a delicacy in Peru-and yes, we got served them twice!) who had a small business that was generating a very ecologically sound cycle. They were able to expand their diets and add protein that was low in cholesterol, and that has stuff that makes you smarter (so I tried it!). Because they had money coming in, they could plant gardens that had more variety. One woman started 2 years ago with 2 guinea pigs and has 98 now and can support 300.
CARE has developed ways of working with the local culture that gives them the means to improve their diets, education, sanitation and health. I cried many times from joy and from thankfulness.
We, as a Giving Circle, raised almost $24,000. You may remember, our goal was $100,000. Having seen the impact of what just a little can do, I am motivated to raise the rest of what we promised in the coming year or however long it takes. MORE Magazine will also be keeping their promise of raising 1 Million. Having spent some time with editor, Peggy Northrop, I have no doubts she will make this happen. I’ll be coming back to you as we regroup for this year, but first I just wanted to THANK YOU from the bottom of my heart for the gift of your time, energy and/or products last year.
It was an extraordinary trip and each of you were there with us in spirit. On behalf of those of us that went and those who whose lives were touched by your generosity…….YOU ROCK!!!!!!!
Hugs & Smiles,
Joeann Fossland e-PRO,GRI, PMN
MRE Society, Certified e-PRO Trainer, Master Certified Coach