Hiking 61 miles between elevations of 13,000 ft. and 17,000 ft. in 5 days was amazing and worth the challenge of repeatedly walking up, down, and around. However, this trip was not simply for the pleasure of walking, seeing, and accomplishing, there was another purpose afoot.
Nine trekkers set out to help a small private school, PROMESA, in Cusco, Peru build a road and bridge to their new land. The school was started through a vision of Eastern Mennonite Mission workers many years ago, and has seen three graduating classes since it's inception in 2005. On Monday, before flying home, we were picked up at our hotel for a visit to the school. We found ourselves just as excited to visit the school, as we were when we set out for the Ausangate Trek.
A drive to the east side of Cusco brought us to the current school location, a combination of a church building and an adjoining rented house. We were warmly greeted by church and school leadership, along with giggles and waves from the students in the small playground area. On a guided tour of the school, we were led through the preschool and primary classrooms, then through the five secondary classes (high school). Each classroom greeted us with smiles and claps as they learned that we were the group who had hiked the mountain to help their school.
Following the tour, we were presented with gifts and told to wait in an office while they gathered the students for a special assembly. When we entered the auditorium nearly 300 students were waiting for us to arrive. After a few remarks, we were told that one of the classes had prepared a special presentation for us. The entire class entered in full costume and preformed a traditional dance.
After the assembly, we were loaded up in SUVs and escorted to the new land where our fundraising efforts would help to build a bridge and improve the road access, necessary before building the school can begin. As we learned on our tour, their current facilities were utilized at capacity and allowed no room for growth, this new land would give them room to grow and expand their dream. Several of us joined the leaders for a walking tour of the land to see how they planned to use this mountainside property.
Seeing their dream, and knowing that we were able to make a small contribution towards the dream being realized, was immensely gratifying and humbling. We were now connected to Peru in a much more personal way, our feet and lungs were given to the mountain, but our hearts remained with its people. Hearing the stories of students receiving an education and the confidence and advantage they gained from it, made any challenge getting to Peru or on the mountain well worth the small effort.
Giving towards the PROMESA project through our Ausangate Trek is open until October 31, 2017 and can be done by clicking on the link below. Help us invest in the students of Cusco, Peru!