The road from Lima to La Merced is winding and steep and long, and during the 189-mile journey, travelers get a view of Peru’s three regions: the arid coast, the imposing mountains, and the lush, green jungle.
La Merced (pop. approx. 50,000) is the provincial capital of the Chanchamayo region, which is blessed with warm weather, waterfalls, and superb coffee and fruit production (think bananas, pineapple, citrus fruits, and avocados). Two of our SSTers, Sara and Caleb, are experiencing that agricultural sector firsthand for six weeks.
Sara is at Chanchamayo Highland Coffee, an organization that works with local farmers to produce and sell fair-trade, organic coffee, fruits, nuts, juices, and other foods. Caleb is working at a family farm outside of La Merced, where he is learning how to grow coffee and helping to plant native trees as part of a reforestation project.
In the nearby town of San Ramon, Hannah is working at INABIF (Programa Integral Nacional para el Bienestar Familiar, or the National Comprehensive Program for the Wellbeing of Families), a state-sponsored center where she assists preschoolers in their classroom and during mealtime, as well as helping older children with their homework.