Moving thorough the Homelands of others consistently week after week, you cannot help but wonder what the people dwelling in those pueblos or those shack-huts on the altiplano make of us pulling up in our air conditioned heated vehicles, taking some photos and hopping back into luxury and speeding off. The locals may be interesting but how much do we truly connect or imagine their lives.
Traveling rough old Ruta 40, visitors would comment on all the abandoned houses, shocked when told that those were actually occupied homes and ones which were quite comfortable and of which the residents were rather proud and grateful.
I began to carry sweets, cookies and pencils in the car and was surrounded like the Pied Piper every time I came into a village. Was this the right behavior on my part? I asked visitors not to dole out cash to the children, gratifying as it was to be the procurer of their glee, small girls were earning more than their fathers toiling in the fields all day. We didn’t want to be the cause of their inculcation into a begging life nor of being removed from education to earn for their family.
We initiated a program of Supplying to Schools after children in the forgotten by-passed pueblos, rather than the richer heavily touristed, told us there was no paper and other basic materials. 5% of the profits from every tour were devoted to school donations, especially those schools far beyond the normal north or south circuits. Many visitors gave us some cash to pass on or even carried supplies all the way from their own homelands which were jubilantly received for their foreign-ess. Even the cheapest packet of Walmart colors or English story book was received so joyfully it made our hearts sing out.
We have discontinued this scheme for the present. We still travel with charitable Spirit but the schools are currently decently supplied by a Government shamed on an International scale and there has been an influx of expats to a housing community who have taken up our lead. We are looking around our newly expanded territory for new options. The Andes is still so under=populated and forgotten by business centric leadership that there are plenty of opportunities. I am particularly moved by the plight of women and especially pubescent girl/women in this land and am searching for the right scheme to assist in a way that empowers.
These programs, I have learned can be a sensitive interruption within a community and all input on handling programs that seem to me our soul-driven purpose are gratefully received.