Aracari prides itself in unveiling the most authentic aspects of Peruvian culture and it has always been important for us to establish close links with organisations that support local communities in the regions that our guests travel to as part of our responsible travel ethos. We want to shine a spotlight on Living Heart NGO knowing that our guests look to give back too, and to help raise awareness around some of the issues facing Andean communities.
Living Heart NGO in Peru
We came to know of Sonia Newhouse and her charity Living Heart in 2010 through a friend in the Urubamba Valley. After various trips to meet her, we were humbled, inspired and thoroughly impressed by the work she was doing. Above all, we felt reassured that Sonia and Living Heart were having a genuine impact upon the communities where they work. From their core work of providing nutritional food for younger children, establishing greenhouses in schools to make vegetable cultivation sustainable and, providing much needed vitamins, to working with small-scale water purification and elimination of risk from water-borne parasites, and even organizing volunteer art teachers and theatre classes for children, they utilise every penny of the money that they receive to have the most lasting impact in improving people’s lives.
Living Heart have not only given us a sense of the scale of impoverishment in the Andes, but they have also made it very clear to us how much needs to be done. As of May 2013, there is a very serious situation in all of the communities that are supported with a Nutrition Program. Their greenhouse initiative has allowed them to plant enough food to eventually provide a mass of wonderful vegetables for the school and community, yet as they wait for the new sprouts to grow, their store rooms and pantries are left empty. The greatest concern is that many of the children are malnourished. These reduced funds not only affect supplying vegetables until the new greenhouse are full operational but also support the other nutritional food required to provide a full, balanced and nutritional diet, perfect for improved physical and mental development as well as overall health. These are the essential nutrients required to supplement the new food program being introduced.
Not long ago, Living Heart staff went to the community to complete the heights and weights of the children, to give out clothing donations for them and their mothers, and to deliver educational donations to the school. When registering the children, they found that the youngest and some of the gradeschool ones (4-6 yrs old) were so light (below 10kg) they didn’t register on the electronic scales, and the staff had to lift them and do the subtraction. Needless to say, the teachers and the rest of the staff are very worried regarding the health of the children and their ability to be learn, as these formative years are so important for their brain development. This is also the age to start influencing a change in their mindset, helping them to a better future.
Such plight of the communities in the Sacred Valley has compelled us to support and promote Living Heart. Most recently Aracari founder Marisol Mosquera encouraged a group of friends who were travelling in the region to contribute towards the Nutrition Program.