This time not a story about the great Inca trail to Machu Picchu, not getting lost in the Sacred Valley or about studying Spanish in San Blas. No, all these things I completed already. Yes, some with, and some without success. Bu this time my reason to be in Cusco is totally different. It is for a good cause, my own foundation El Sueño del Niño. And I am truly very excited about this trip.
How it all started
Child’s dream. Dream of kid. Dreams and Dreaming. We all do it. I dreamed starting a boy’s orphanage after my internship for Peruvian children. And I was not the only one dreaming this. Together with my good friend Jana we were dreaming of all the things we would do for these children. We were dreaming to build little schools, and to start big orphanages for them. I would have loved taking all these children to my home in The Netherlands…
Emerson is his name, the Peruvian kid we met on a cold night at 2 a.m. in August. We bought some chewing gum and tried to start a conversation with him. But shy as he is, he walked away from us into the direction of another group of tourists. His selling skills are failing this time; the group of young tourists are neglecting him while he is showing them all the candy…
Over and over again he was in my mind. Such a young boy, a child, barely 10 years old, in the middle of the night, all by himself. Where are his parents? Who is taking care of him? What about school the next day? Some questions spinning in my mind. ‚AMIGO!’ we were shouting when a week past by and we saw him again in the middle of the night. He had a friend with him, and he was a bit uncomfortable by our enthusiasm towards him. ‚Hola Amigas’ he replied with his head bending towards the ground. His friend made a whistling ’fietview’ sound. After that moment we started to connect with him.
We took both of them them out for dinner and Emerson told this story to us. He collected money to support his family. With less than 20 sol (about 8 USD) he was not allowed coming back home. We gave him the missing money for the night and called a cab to take him back home, to his parents. But still we questioned ourselves if this was the right solution. This experience made us aware that there is need for some structural changes than our previous approach. And because of this experience, because of Emerson, we were thinking about a more effective way to support these children.
Foundation El Sueño del Niño
After returning to The Netherlands the idea kept on sticking in my mind. I investigated how to start a foundation and just kept going with my idea. In the end of 2013 we had our first gathering; with Jana as vice president and Daan as secretary. We only had to search for a treasurer, but it did not take a long time to fulfill that position. Hanne decided, with a lot of enthusiasm, to enforce our team. In May 2014 we went to the notary and signed the act. Now we were officially a foundation, but we had still a long way ahead of us. Actually we were just starting.
We had to seek for donators and we had to seek for a collaboration with someone based in Peru. We told all our friends and family about our foundation. We got donations, we are still very thankful for that! Thanks again! We sold bracelets which we already brought from Peru, organised a fancy fair and we got our first big donator: The cycling friends of the Pelican! (Wielervrienden de Pelikaan!)
Also we found another foundation Chico Latino where we could collaborate with in Peru. This organisation is already active in Cusco for quite some time and they already wanted to start a new project; financing children and coaching them during their studies. Exactly the same as what we want to reach with our foundation. Because Chico Latino has a lot of other great projects in Peru as well they didn’t have to resources to finance the whole project themselves, and there we (and hopefully you as well) are coming into the picture. The first year will be a joint effort with Chico Latino, hereafter our foundation will completely take it over.
“When I am old, I want to be a nurse”, “I’m hoping to have my own shop, so I can take care of my children” and “I want to be a lawyer, so I am able to help children in need”
Such confessions, such dream, everybody made once and a while in their lives, in their childhood. Without thinking about individual or contextual possibilities, every child identifies him/her-self with a certain role in the society. At the same time the possibility to fulfill a certain role is not equal for everyone. Individual characteristics, like intelligence or motivation, are unequal divided. As well the chances, the opportunities to develop are unequal, especially when you look at a North/South perspective of the world. Poverty, a lack of role models, different cultures with different norms and values in the society, a lack or even no social services, just to mention a few important factors which are contributing that a child has difficulties to start or even to have an education.
Foundation El Sueño del Niño, Spanish for “Child’s dream”, thinks that education is a privilege and that’s why they want to support the youth chasing their dreams. Specifically we focus on the guidance of disadvantaged youth (boys) in Cusco and primarily we give priority to quality instead of quantity.
What are we doing in Cusco
Together with Hanne and Jana, we fly, of course all at our own expenses, to Cusco. Here we are meeting the three children (Lizette, Rubén and Anderson) whom we are supporting at this moment and we are meeting the supervisors of the project. Even when all the children will eventually be supported financially by our foundation the children are still going to this project. The parents had to sign an agreement wherein they declare that they are supporting our approach and that they are motivating the children to go to school.
Currently we are supporting (‘just’) three children and we are hoping that this number will be growing in the near future. If you want to support our foundation please take a look at our website. Also we really appreciate if you share this post through your social media channels, so more and more people will know El Sueño del Niño!