This article was sent to us by Jim Killon, Changes for New Hope
Just yesterday the explosive laughter of happy children surrounded me in our Challhua pueblo group. They were painting each others faces with art materials that I had brought to class that day. Face painting was a new activity for them, a new way to express their creativity and they loved it. There is nothing more beautiful than the sound of children’s laughter. Especially these children.
Just a few years ago there was no laughter to be heard. This pueblo of Challhua was a sad and desperate place, a desperately poor area of Huaraz Peru high into the Andean mountains. On either side of the muddy pathway through the pueblo are adobe houses with dirt floors, corrugated aluminum roofs held down by old tires. Sometimes families of seven or more would inhabit two small rooms. Without electricity, running water or sewage, the children of Challhua had a very hard time trying to imagine a better life.
When Changes for New Hope began a project there, the curiosity soon morphed into acceptance. These children needed everything. Wearing ragged shoes, and clothing, lacking guidance and direction and even the most basic of necessities such as toothbrushes and soap all made for a very hard life. I understand that poor means not having much money. But desperation and despair is what it does to the human spirit, crushing hope and dreams.
For the Conservation of Lffe…
When Julian Lennon’s White Feather Foundation learned about our work here and stepped in to support these children, a ray of hope emerged from the adobe village. With materials and funds to be able to turn the tide, we bought shoes initially and soon other materials. Better food and more of it was another objective to combat malnutrition. School materials, learning games and creative activities soon replaced the mindset of desperation and despair. Our group began to grow, more help was needed and as others followed the lead after seeing our story on the White Feather Foundation website, we were enabled to touch the lives of more children.
Since 2009, Changes for New Hope has reached out to more than 500 children in the Peruvian Andes whose stories mirror the children of Challhua. More than school materials, clothes and shoes, games, vitamins and food, we have been able to develop intrinsic values through our “Haz lo Correcto-Do the Right Thing” campaign which has slowly turned the tide against juvenile delinquency. We decided to share our story of hope, love and our continuing efforts with a book entitled, “A Gringo in Peru-A Story of Compassion in Action”. The impossible became possible. And just yesterday I listened to the laughter of children as they painted each other’s faces, laughter that was not possible to be heard a few years ago. The love and appreciation that they have for us, for bringing them an opportunity for a better life, out from their previous desperation, washed over me like a breaking surf.
Our heartfelt thanks to Julian Lennon and the good folks at the White Feather Foundation for helping to make this project a continuing success by your compassion in action.
See more details about our work with Changes for Hope.