Cuzco, Peru is an extremely fascinating and culturally rich place. However, despite growing tourism and recent economic progress, many indigenous children remain disadvantaged when it comes to quality education and daily human resources.
Specifically on the outskirts of Cuzco, young children and teens are in a state of semi-abandonment. Due to economic isolation, their parents are forced to work long hours and some have problems with drugs and alcohol. Young teens are even responsible for caring for younger siblings and elderly grandparents without parental guidance or support.
The reality these children face encouraged me to devote some time in making a difference in international development affairs. So I departed for Cuzco in the beginning of fall to volunteer at an after-school center on the outskirts of the city called Club C.O.R.A.S.O.N.
The afternoon program began in 2008 in an effort to provide children in the surrounding area with educational and sporting activities, bible study, English lessons, workshops for young teens and occasional help with schoolwork.
But shortly after my arrival, I discovered that C.O.R.A.S.O.N. offers these children much more beyond their original vision.
It is a safe space for them to play amongst friends with equipment, toys and games they normally don’t have access to.
It is a learning center where they acquire new skills and hobbies that have the potential to brighten their futures.
It is a program led by kindhearted volunteers who provide them with love and support they don’t receive at home.
Overall, it is a place that fulfills and supplements the hearts of the children.
Prior to my departure, I started a crowd-funding campaign to raise money for the club. I wanted to put it towards something that would have a lasting impact; something that was multifunctional and durable. After brainstorming with the club director, I decided to purchase a projector so the kids can have a source of entertainment and the teachers could use it as an educational resource.
After telling other volunteers about my successful fundraiser, I encouraged them to raise money and donate to their respective organizations. Generosity begets generosity and I feel honored to be a part of such an inspiring community of volunteers.
Reflecting back, I had hoped my fundraiser and volunteer efforts would provide the children with resources they currently lack, but I was pleasantly surprised with the reciprocated life lessons I learned from them.
While they have next to nothing, they are some of the happiest children I’ve had the pleasure of working with. Amongst other things, my experience has taught me that happiness is quite simple and when you overcomplicate life, you significantly overlook its beauty.
For more information about Association C.O.R.A.S.O.N. visit http://www.corason.org
For volunteer opportunities in Cuzco visit http://www.ubelong.org
All photos by Jenn Beening