Last year, Shea Carr Jewell made a contribution to one of our clients, who served at a Dominican Republic orphanage with a small group of volunteers for an agency called Kids Alive International. SCJ Project Manager, Scott Sawyer watched the slide show presentation following our client’s trip, and was more than compelled to take action. He would join the group and make a difference.
Kids Alive serves not only the Dominican Republic but also Guatemala, Kenya and three areas in Peru. The team’s final destination – PERU! Scott’s journey from Seattle to Peru meant flying from Seattle to Dallas, Dallas to Miami, Miami to Lima, and then Lima to Pucallpa. But wait – there was more, the drive from Pucallpa to San Jose. Here the team spent their week with a village of approximately 2,000 people.
Kids Alive supports orphanages and provides after-school programs; much like our Boys & Girls Clubs. The program provides the children with a hot meal, homework help, and they participate in a Bible-verse club. The team discovered several of the children had attendance issues and were unable to take advantage of this beneficial program. Upon further investigation it was discovered the children were prone to illnesses due to them having to sleep on the ground. The project team had their first project! Building beds for 34 of the children.
The team made visits to the homes of the children only to find less than desirable living conditions. The children’s homes consisted of small structures with dirt floors – more like mud floors since most of the roofs leaked. Many homes were led by single mothers who were unable to pay for or make repairs themselves.
They all cooked by fire, about half had electricity, some owned wells, but some had to go quite a distance just for water. Yet all were proud of their homes, graciously giving “tours” of their one-room abodes. They were hospitable, grateful and loving; appreciative of receiving a bed for their children.
The beds were assembled, placed in a large building at the site, tagged with each child’s name, and revealed during the Big Surprise! Imagine the children’s delight as they realized the beds were for them!
The team then delivered the beds to each home…well, nearly each home. There were two boys who lived on the other side of the town’s river who traveled in a “pecky pecky boat” (named for the noise it made) to pick up their two beds. As you can see in the photo, it’s amazing they didn’t sink it!
One of the homes lacked the square feet needed for the beds. The team stacked the beds with plans to return with supplies to lengthen the legs so they would be more like bunk beds, creating more usable space. When they returned to make the retrofit, they saw that the children had squished into the confined space between the stacked beds and slept there anyway.
The center arranged for a special annual event to occur during the team’s visit. The event—a Latin-American rite of passage for 15-year-old girls called a quinceanera—celebrated five village girls and three guests each who were treated to an evening of finery. Fancy dresses for the five were specially made by the full-
time missionaries at the center; the team brought donated dresses for the other girls. All 20 had their hair and makeup done by the team’s teenage girls, and the 15-year-olds were escorted by male members of the team. Without the center, these families would have no such celebration, and they were beyond grateful.
Scott and the rest of the team were able to experience many memorable moments joyful, people—soccer and volleyball; fishing; and witnessing the children’s lives in the center as they ate, sang, prayed, and performed skits and plays about their faith. Scott says he went to Peru to help them, but left believing that they had helped him even more.