As I am writing this blog post, my thoughts are going all over the place, I still can not believe that I made this happened. At the same time, I am thinking on everything that went wrong. And I always wonder what should I have done different, or how I could have avoid them. At the same time, I am thinking about the next delivery day and the next trip to Peru.
During the last past nine months, I worked hard and trust me It was not easy. There were endless of sleepless nights and jam packed weekends full of fundraising events. But I believed in the cause but more unless I believed in myself.
I will start telling you with what went wrong, because unfortunately things didn't go as plan or as smooth as I thought they would go. And there were times that I cried in silent and I cried aloud as well. I felt that I could not keep going and I also felt that I did not have the strength to keep going. I didn't do it alone. I did it with the help of all of you and for that I will be for ever grateful.
A few weeks before our trip to Peru, my country was left without a president. Leaving Peru in chaos. I had a call from my dad saying that he was worry about our safety when the volunteer and myself arrive.
One thing that the volunteers never noticed was how unsafe Peru is right now. Kidnappings and money heists happening every 30 seconds all over the country. One of our concerns was not to be kidnap from the airport to the way to our accommodation. Our driver had instructions to take the fastest route and to try to make it in an hour our an hour an a half and to pay attention to any car following us. It is so sad but in Peru, people will kill you for a pair of sneakers! On this matter, I have give credit to my parents because thanks to their information I could plan a safe route and make sure everybody was safe all the time. We were lucky that nobody got robbed.
Unfortunately, we did encountered a really violent strike in Cusco region. We had to leave extra early in the morning during one of our trips to avoid it. When we were in the train to the Inca Trail we were able to see the protesters dressed in red and throwing stones, trying to stop tourists from going on the Inca Trail three day route. They had a point thought, they didn't want the price of gas to raise again. Twice in a week! If the price of the gas goes up for them, everything goes up for us the travellers as well. Hotel, your train tickets, your tours, your food, etc. But there is no excuse for violence. You can raise your voice against any government in peace.
Also, two weeks before the trip I had to pay for a building permit that a leader from the community made up. Which I never saw. But I was not going to put in risk anybody. You never know what they can do to us the day of the building. I didn't want the leader of the community coming with more men stopping the building and taking everything away. I had no choice but paying. I wonder who took the money, I wonder if the leader kept it or if he actually did something good with it. I guess I will never know.
In addition to that, the day we were departing, Lima had an earthquake of 5.5 at Richter scale. Leaving with no power the town where we will be building the house. Just before making the line to get in the plane. I received a call from my dad, informing me of a delay cutting the wood for the house because they still has no power and that we will not be able to build the house on that day.
I was in shock! All these months of preparation and fundraising events and the promise that I made to Jacinto and his family of building a house for them was gone. Mother Nature did not cooperate with us and we will just had to wait. So I had to find a solution, cancel a trip that we had planned and build the house on Sunday May 20 or build the house on May 21,cancel the city tour and work hard to finish the house on time. Knowing that we had to be up at 3:00 am on Tuesday May 22 to travel to a city that is at 3800 meters about sea level. I just could not let everybody be exhausted, we needed to be in excellent physical conditions for all the long hikes. I decided to pay extra for the men to stay at work late and in the meantime to cut the wood by hand until the power comes back.
They could not finish on time and they had to wake up really early the day of the building and they finally finish at 10:00 am. We were two hours behind schedule. On the top of everything we encountered corrupted police that we had to pay, too.
When we thought that everything was resolved now. We encountered another situation. For the water delivery, we had initially two water trucks and two drivers for the four rounds that we paid for. One driver got drunk the night before and cancelled on us. I guess never drink and drive applies to this situation.
Pacas didn't raise all the money to build all three houses. On the other hand, thanks to all the fundraising events, products sold and donations we were able to raise $7954.29 Canadian Dollars.
So, we got the money to build one house and almost 3000 Canadian dollars more that we used to feed 100 children, give them backpacks with school supplies, basic necessities kits, 100 beach balls, and four trucks of clean water. We also had a bed for Andy the grand kid of Jacinto and a table with chairs. My parents and I ended up adding more money to cover the cost of all the emergencies and the last minute expenses. We were committed to make this happened!
Our delivery day was on Saturday May 19, 2018. We woke up, early in the morning had a lovely breakfast made by my parents. Pack everything in the van and made our way to Carapongo.
When we arrived to Faustino Sanchez Carrion, we were greeted by the Principal and Mrs. Sara who helped coordinate the delivery and is the President of the Parents Association. I discussed the itinerary with her and updated of the situation to everybody.
Because of our delay, I decided that the best way to get done was to split. My dad went to get the house and all the materials and was going to take them to Jacinto's land. My mom was going to make lunch for 100 children and for all of us plus the teachers with the help of some moms who kindly came to help us. I was going to finish making the basic necessities kits for 100 children with the volunteers. After that, I was going to coordinate the delivery of clean water with two volunteers.
Delivering clean water was a reality check for me. I have been in this situation before but it is very easy to forget about it once leaving in Canada. Once again, I know that water is not a right it is a privileged and we all need to look after it and save it not waste it.
People were coming down from all over the hills running to ask us for water. They told me how hard is for them to get water. They have to buy it but the water truck and the driver never make it up there since they run out of water at the bottom of the hill and they never go back to distribute water up there because they already made their money from the day. I was overwhelmed about the situation that they lived in and I remembered my childhood. I am definitely determined to do something about it in the future.
I also met the leader of this community "Cruz De Mayo".They asked me for help to build a soccer field that would be part of a school for children there. It was very hard to say I could not know if I was going to help but you never know maybe we will get more generous people on board. They gave the plan and the cost. I have reviewed. It will not be easy.
After, delivering the first truck of water, we went to check on my dad and the house while other group of volunteers went to deliver the second truck of water.
Words can not describe how I felt the moment I first met Jacinto and his family. After all this months we were finally here and we were really happy to finally see each other in person. Again, I give credit to my parents. My dad interviewed many families and finally decided to that we were going to build the house for Jacinto because he deserved it and because he was waiting for this help for a long time. Jacinto and his family are one of the last families to get help. As Jacinto told us, the government gave houses away to people who didn't need it just because they are friends or relatives from the major or leaders.
As I knew we were going to be behind scheduled. I decided to hire helpers. and I am happy we did! Otherwise, we wouldn't have finished. A big shout out to my cousins as well that had to go an inflate all the 100 beach balls at the gas station!
We had to go back to the school to have lunch with the kids. They have been waiting for us for a long time. My dad left the helpers working with Jacinto and he went to delivered the third truck of water while we went to deliver the meals, backpacks, beach balls and kits with basic necessities.
When we arrived we reunited with the other volunteers and my mom. The first thing that my mom told me is that everybody was hungry.
Walking for the first time and see the room full of children with signs of "Thank you Pacas" was amazing. The feeling you get on delivery day is a feeling that makes my soul and heart happy. Giving back is the most amazing thing ever. We all should try it more often.
After lunch, we delivered the backpacks with school supplies, beach balls and basic necessities kits to 100 children! They were so happy!
A group of teachers thanks us together with the Principal and they sang Happy Birthday to me in Spanish! I haven't heard that song for 7 and a half years, I cried a little bit. What an amazing way to start my 34th birthday!
We finished having lunch and we had to say good bye but first we took a group picture. I wish we could have spent more time with them. Unfortunately, we had to go to help my dad and the other finishing the house.
Again we were in the van and as we were leaving, I saw some kids walking with Pacas backpacks. This is my third year delivering backpacks and so far we have delivered more than 200. I still can not believe how far Pacas has gone. Sometimes, I still see it as a dream. But at that moment, I knew it was a reality.
We arrived to Jacinto's land and they were more than half way there. My dad just arrived from delivering the third truck of clean water and he gave the volunteers and I instructions to started painting.
Jacinto and my dad finished putting the windows up and the locks and then we helped adding the roof. We planted some flowers and grass and we were almost there. Again my dad, ran out to finalized the delivery of the fourth truck of clean water while we were cleaning up and finishing getting the house ready. We helped picking up all the tools and sweeping the floor.
We got a bed for Andy who is Jacinto's son and that for the very first time is going to have his own room! Also we got them a dining table and chairs.
While I was building the bed for Andy, Jacinto's grandson. He told me he was very happy to have his first very own room and very own bed. I was really happy for him and glad that we were able to make this happen. We moved in the table and chairs and the rest of volunteers helped them moved their belonging in.
My dad came back from delivering the fourth truck of water and another task was done!
Mission accomplished! After travelling all the way from Canada to Peru, the delivery day was completed!
We did it! We built a house for Jacinto and his family and I personally delivered the keys of the very first Pacas house ever to a family in need in Peru. That moment was for sure one of the best moments of my life.
I couldn't helped I cried, I was so focused and so worried all day, my mind was on a go go go mode solving issues all day. It was all done! We delivered everything we came for and I have to confess that I felt for the first time in 9 months relief.
My heart was full of joy and the look on parents eyes showed me that it was all worth it.They also cried, they are an important part of Pacas and the ones who inspired me to do better for this world, for Jacinto (who cried too), his wife and his grandson Andy, for all the kids and moms of Carapongo. and for all the people of Cruz de Mayo where we delivered clean water.It was all worth it!
On the other hand, I would like to end this post thanking everybody who helped make this happened. Everybody who was part of the fundraising events and bought a ticket, all my friends and family from all over the world who liked and shared our posts and who also donated to the cause. All of our sponsors for the amazing prizes for our two big events Amazing Race 2018 and Scavenger Hunt: Walkerville Edition. All the Windsor Businesses who supported us, The Mix 96.7 Radio and the Windsor Community. A big part of this project was Mrs. Sara who is the president of the parents association of Faustino Sanchez Carrion without her help we wouldn't be able to find Jacinto and coordinate the delivery at the school.
And of course, my cousins Thalia and Edgar who are teaching my godson Alejandro and my niece Lia the importance of giving back, to my cousin Shantal whose English is getting better and better. They have been coming to all the Pacas delivery days since 2013.
To my parents who have been my biggest supporters and who inspired me to be a better person and who not only helped me coordinated the delivery day but also to my dad building skills and the concrete floor he made for the house and my mom delicious cooking abilities and for being in charge of the meal. There were long hours of phone calls, million of messages between Peru and Canada and hours of hours of being in a chicken bus, taxis, tuck tucks, from Villa El Salvador to Carapongo.
Also our volunteers that not only donated their time to go to Peru but also who raised money for the cause and work very hard on the delivery day with a few hours of sleep.
From the bottom of my heart thank you so much. I could not have done it without the help of you all. Every single gesture of your generosity was highly appreciated.
Thanks for being part of Pacas and our volunteering trip Peru Project 2018! See you again in Peru Project 2019!
Owner and Founder of Pacas