While You Were Sweltering in Summer Heat, HWF Expedition Team Touched Hearts in the Andes
While you were sweltering in summer heat, six dedicated volunteers from the USA and our Peruvian field director, Bertha Ramirez, trudged at high elevations in two feet of snow to deliver supplies and services to isolated Q’ero villages in Peru. After months of training for the rigors of hiking at high elevations, the expedition team fulfilled their commitments to deliver school equipment, art materials, warm clothing, and medical supplies to three remote Andean villages where life is a challenge every day of the year.
Cheryl McGovern (left) and HWF board member and expedition leader Stacy Christensen (right)
Beth Ann and Brian Lehr with Hapu Q’ero president Jose Machacca (center)
Malynda Madsen at 16,000 foot pass
Bertha Ramirez, HWF field director
Lisa Flynn with Q’ero teens
For many months, the team of volunteers planned for the July expedition from their homes across the US. They collected donated goods and prepared service activities in their respective fields of education, art, culture, hygiene, and health care.
Once in the villages, the six volunteers put their passions and talents into action. Beth Ann Lehr (Hendersonville, NC) trained teen girls to use fabric menstrual kits so they would not miss school during their monthly flow.
The patented kits designed by Days for Girls are environmentally friendly and economically sustainable. Lehr’s hope was to empower Q’ero girls and women by shattering stigmas and limitations associated with menstruation. The project was received with enthusiasm, and the girls asked for menstrual kits to take home for their mothers.
GET INVOLVED: Please donate fabric or help sew kits so every teen and mother has the dignity of monthly hygiene kits.
Through a cultural art project developed by Lisa Flynn of Santa Fe, NM (on right, with Beth Ann Lehr), Q’ero youth collaborated to explore colors, symbols, and forms of traditional textiles. Lisa’s objective was to foster an appreciation in the youth for the incredible cultural legacy that weavers have passed down through their textiles. The textiles reflect Q’ero concepts and views about people, animals, land, the cosmos, the meaning of life, and the place of humans in the world.
Cheryl McGovern (Rockville, UT) trained villagers of all ages in first aid for life-threatening bleeding and broken bones. Cheryl distributed wound care kits to the high school and to the Q’ero Health Promoter in each village. She singled out teens to train with her in responding to a medical emergency. The youth in turn demonstrated their new skills to the adults at the community council meeting. Cheryl’s ulterior objective was to encourage young kids to take responsibility and contribute to the well-being and betterment of their communities. The project was a huge success by all accounts. Cheryl also made several house calls to attend to sick children.
Brian Lehr (Hendersonville, NC) taught wound care in each village. Brian also treated several people with chronic wounds. Santos (pictured) has suffered a bone infection in his hand for 20 years! The care and attention that Brian administered to the villagers touched many hearts.
Brian introduced a simple hand wash setup for each village that was very well received. In each village men lined up with their own recycled materials to build a hand wash station for their families.
You gift $25 for purchase 50 bars of soap for 50 Q’ero Families.
Beth Ann Lehr presented hands-on lessons to youth of every village to explore the five senses. She read a picture book of her own creation and taught students to make play dough to explore taste, smell, touch, sight and sound. This new experience captivated children and teachers alike.
The expedition team brought science equipment to the high school that was recently built by Heart Walk Foundation. The youth were fascinated by the binoculars, microscope, and astronomy books donated by John Kolb (Ivins, UT).
“The students are eager for more educational materials. They are hungry to learn.”
— Stacy Christensen, team leader
Contact us to donate educational materials for Q’ero youth.
Stacy Christensen (left) (Springdale, UT) and Malynda Madsen (right) (St. George, UT) met in council for many hours with each partner village. The elders expressed their gratitude for the longtime partnership with Heart Walk Foundation (2004) and for all the accomplishments to date. Stacy and Malynda received the community’s requests for future projects, which continue to focus on food security, health and education needs, animal husbandry, and cultural preservation.
The volunteers were compelled to cut short their ten-day expedition by one day due to heavy snowfall and sub-freezing temperatures. On the last day, the team hiked many hours to the Ritti Casa Pass at 15,600 feet in elevation where they were to meet the 4×4 trucks. The vehicles, however, were unable to reach the pass, forcing the group to hike several more hours to find the 4x4s waiting on the narrow track road further down the mountain.
“Our challenges reminded our team how the Q’ero people face constant difficulties in their harsh climate and rough geography. They always live on the margin of safety every day of their lives.”
— Stacy Christensen, team leader
The volunteers’ hike out increased their heart-felt resolve to continue this inspiring service to the Q’ero people of the Andes.
Watch for stories in coming weeks about Q’ero youth and their families, their challenges and triumphs.