In January 2021 I was entrusted a generous donation by a very nice couple of doctors from the USA for whom I had organized a tour in the Cusco area two or three years ago. They had asked me what course they could donate to in Peru and I had told them that in the present pandemic there were many people going hungry, especially in some remote rural areas. So we came up with the idea of distributing food parcels.
Since I found myself in quarantine at our beautiful Lodge in Limatambo it made sense to focus on our own neighboring communities for the project. I was overjoyed to find an ally in the local subprefect, Silvia Mendoza Meza, who immediately agreed to assist me. She very efficiently identified the very people who needed a helping hand urgently, mostly abandoned Quechua elders and single women. These were all people who had not benefitted from any other help during the previous months during the pandemic.
We bought basic food items in bulk, things like rice, quinoa, oats, and sugar, and bagged them up into smaller portions. We also bought cocoa, noodles, and sunflower oil as well as avocados and oranges and prepared 20 generous food parcels weighing around 15 kg each.
We had made three trips altogether as most locations were rather remote, some of them could only be reached by dirt road. On the first trip, we also had the help of our friends Erika Diaz and Agustin Liebana from the Hacienda Sondorf in Tarawasi, and their two adorable kids, Male and Mate.
On the trips we made, we were confronted with extreme poverty and sad realities. We met a hardworking single woman who single-handedly had to look after her differently-abled adult children. There was also a very old woman who had to look after her frail elderly sister who could no longer get out of bed. This old lady wiped her tears as she talked to us about the frustration she felt at not being able to lift her sister up, so she could do her necessities. We bought a bedpan and adult nappies for her, but when we returned to her home ten days later, we found that the sick lady had passed away.
Another experience that stuck in my mind was visiting a very old childless couple just outside of Limatambo. The lady was deaf, but otherwise very fit. I was told that she walks to Limatambo every day to help out at one of the restaurants in exchange for some basic food. Her husband had cancer in one eye.
Armando and I went to visit them a few weeks later with some of our garden avocados. The old man was alone. He started crying when I handed the avocados over to him. He clutched my hand and did not want to let me go. I promised that I would visit again soon. Little did I know that this would be the last time I was going to see him. He slipped and fell in his small yard in front of the ramshackle house, which led to his death.
The subprefect shared the life stories of every person we visited with me. Some of them were very sad. I think about the widow with her unfinished house who became destitute when her husband died or the young brave woman who supports her two small disabled children all by herself.
One old lady cried out in delight: “The Lord has answered my prayers”, others sobbed with emotion, one old lady gave me a hug. I am grateful that I could be part of this act of kindness by our donors and provide some momentary relief and happiness to some people in dire need. A big thank you to our donors!!