In Peru, over half of the population of 25 million live in poverty, making it one of the poorest countries in South America. The Bellevue College Rotaract Club is trying to make a difference in Peru and is raising money to provide aid for Peruvian orphans and burn victims – and they’re taking the aid themselves.
On March 23, six selected members of the club are leaving for Peru, where they will work in an orphanage, teaching arts and crafts, painting the orphanage’s school, and working with burn victim rehabilitation until April 1. Because Rotaract is a worldwide organization, the BC group will also have the opportunity to work with the local branch in Lima.The six members chosen were Eileen Cho, Dominic Tran, Shannon Daly, Nina Dany, Chris Vu, and Angel Leung.
The club is in the process of raising money to buy supplies for the orphans and victims and is hosting two bake sales. One was last week, February 23. The next one is March 8, at 10:00 a.m. until 1:00 p.m. They will sell baked goods and hand-made Peruvian friendship bracelets for $2 a piece.
None of the money made at these sales is going to fund the trip itself – 100 percent of the profits are going to the orphans and victims.
Because of the unstable health care and medical providence in Peru, the club is also running a Band-Aid drive for the children – “We really want 500 new Band-Aids,” said Dominic Tran, a Rotaract member taking this trip. “The Band-Aids are going to the orphanage.”
They have set a goal to buy three sewing machines for the burn rehab center – at $300 a piece, these specialized sewing machines will cost the club $900. They plan to pay for this by selling the 800 Peruvian friendship bracelets, which were hand-made in Peru and shipped here, for $2 each.
The club decided to go to Peru based on the startling need in that area. “We went to Nepal two years ago and we were told we needed a fresh new idea,” said Eileen Cho, President of the BC Rotaract. “We did a little research and found that half the population is below the poverty line.”
Cho said that planning for this trip began last year in April. Eventually the six students were selected based on an application process that considered things like their involvement with the club, volunteer work, leadership skills, ability to adapt, approaching a problem, presentation, and experience with people who didn’t speak English natively.
To prepare, the group is spending this month studying the Peruvian environment, learning about the culture, the history, and the language. This whole process is being documented on video for a debrief upon their return.
They are also using media on the trip itself, providing updates to everyone back at the school through a blog (bcrotaract.tumblr.com), and their Facebook page. Upon their return, they are available to give presentations for anyone who asks.
The students are looking forward to an enriching experience. “Spending a week in an environment totally different from the United States gives a lot of perspective,” said Daly.
Vu said he was looking forward to “giving back to the world.”
Leung felt similarly: “I want to see what Rotary is all about.”
“People don’t understand what it’s like in underdeveloped countries,” said Tran. “I’m looking forward to working with the kids.”
The fundraising for materials for the children will continue on their March 8 bake sale in the cafeteria, with 100 percent of the profit going towards the orphanages and burn victims. Band-Aids are also accepted and encouraged.