I recently returned home from a wonderful adventure in South America where I had the opportunity to work with PLAN International. I was first introduced to Plan when a good friend of mine and amazing musician Aaron Lines returned home from doing some work for them a few years ago in Peru. I was immediately drawn to the organization and made arrangements to travel to Peru at some point and lend my camera and skills. My experience couldn’t have been more rewarding. I’ve alway tried to volunteer, and donate when I can but the ability to actaully give them something in person that they can use and hopefully create more awareness and funding really felt fantastic. To experience and see first hand what wonderful things they are doing for these communities was so powerful and very eye opening.
With the guidance from Carolina Santos and the others from Plan my brother in law Mitch and I visited a few communities in the outlying areas of Lima. Plan has begun some major campaigns to help address, education, health care, water supply, bullying and many other issues that the communities deal with.
If you are not familiar with the landscape of Peru, it may be one of the most diverse of any other country that I’ve ever seen. Roughly four years ago my wife and I spent about 4 weeks in Peru, visiting much of the country, all by bus and public transport and we thought we had seen it all, but of course we can only scratch the surface in a month and seeing the countryside is one thing, understanding how the people live in it is another. It’s similar to living in Canada, we can tell people that it’s cold and snowy in the winter, and everyone goes ,”ok”, but until you’ve walked to work, or actually worked outside in the winter you can’t truly understand how difficult the conditions are. Peru is very similar is it’s own way. The Andes are lush, wet and high, lake Titicaca is marvelous and large, the coast line is arid and warm from tip to top and of course you have the Amazon Basin which is mostly water and wildlife. What is hard to imagine is that Lima, the capital, is geographically so close to all these fresh sources of water, yet being on the other side of the andes is practically a desert and has very little water aside from the Ocean. So bringing in fresh water is extremely difficult and expensive. Plan is working very hard to make water available for the people in those areas where it’s hard to get.
It was very “real” when we walked in the first district called Ventanilla. It was very literally sitting on sand, the roads were cut from the dry earth and even walking to the buildings was similar to walking up the edge of a beach. So you can imagine how wonderful the experience is for the children attending the schools when you enter the gates and you see the bright colours painted on the class walls and buildings, fresh water to use, the greenspace with trees they have planted and the compost area where they have taught the children to utilize and continue to grow in these conditions. It was really a wonderful environment and it’s something many of us take for granted.
Some of the other great things they are doing involve programs for mothers and their children to work with new toys and exercises to help develop and stimulate the childrens minds and bodies. A clinic with a distinct area solely for newborns and babies, a place where mother’s and other women can work with fabrics and materials to create and sell clothing, educational materials at the schools and of course many other things.
I truly can’t thank Plan enough for allowing me to help out. It may seem strange to say that but I wish I could do more and anytime I can help I think it does as much for my soul as I hope it does for those we help. If anyone is interested in donating, or learning how you can help out please don’t be afraid to follow these links and do what you can:
Please enjoy just a few shots from our experience and I hope you can really see how much of a difference we can all make.