Service in Huaraz

Four students served in Huaraz.  At 3,052 meters (over 10,000 feet) above sea level, this Andean city lures people from all over the world in search of adventure.  Snow-covered peaks are visible above the green foothills.  Mornings are warm and sunny.  Each afternoon brings life-giving rain.

A Christian physician named Maria Jesus Hernandez visited two decades ago from her native Spain and decided to relocate here for her life’s work:  caring for children without homes and with little hope.  She founded an organization called Turmanye in the local Quechua language or Arco Iris in Spanish —  in English the name is “Rainbow”.

Three students volunteered with Maria Jesus’ organization.  Emily and Jordan spent each day in rural communities far above the city.  Traveling about an hour each way with organization staff in colectivo taxis, they arrived each morning at newly-formed schools started here to bring education to children with illiterate parents.  The schools are in places the government has so far ignored, placed here in hope that the authorities will soon recognize the severe needs and commit public resources and personnel.  Jordan and Emily assisted teachers with a variety of tasks — getting the classrooms ready for the beginning of the school year, making home visits to encourage parents to enroll their children and assisting teachers in the classroom.

Corine volunteered at another Arco Iris center in a residential neighborhood in the city of Huaraz, an orphanage that is home to two dozen children ranging in age from one month to eighteen years.  Corine worked both morning shifts and evening shifts, depending on the day of the week, accompanying children through their daily routines and helping lighten the load for the staff that manage the home.  She helped teenage girls with their homework, played with younger children in the playground or at a local park, pushed a wheelchair-bound boy to school and helped care for twin babies who had been abandoned at the orphanage door.

Michelle’s assignment was in a section of Huaraz referred to as Independencia.  She volunteered for World Vision, an international nonprofit organization that channels funding from high-income countries into development projects focused on bettering the lives of children in rural communities all over the world.  Michelle worked with World Vision staff both in the office and in the field.  She began by filing documents for the 2,000 children served in this region, then soon re-organized the filing system to make it more efficient.   She had an opportunity to translate for an English-speaking sponsor visiting from Australia.  And she accompanied staff on trips to communities far outside the city, meeting with children and their parents to promote education, nutrition and health care in places that, until now, have been off the map.