Nestled in the Andes Mountains at upwards of 14,000 ft., some of the communities we visited couldn’t be accessed by road. We drove as far as possible and hiked the rest of the way with our gear. The houses were made of adobe bricks and had dirt floors, but our Quechua speaking hosts kindly provided us with sheep and llama skins to sleep on. During the night temperatures would drop below freezing, forming inch thick ice on still water. Water for washing and any kind of bathroom facilities were simply not available. Many of the children we worked with had not been able to bathe for months, causing a buildup of dirt on their skin along with burnt cheeks from the sun and wind. Save for one community, electricity wasn’t in the cards either.
Our programing included songs, games and Bible lessons. Along with some really fun times with the kids (note the pictures of me dressed as a clown), we also brought the communities food and scarves. Although they are able to eat llama or sheep on special occasions, their day to day diet consists almost completely of potatoes and chuño (a dehydrated potato) resulting in very poor nutrition. We provided mandarins and bananas as well as sardines to mix in with their potatoes—this made for some very happy kids!
In some ways it was shocking to come into contact with such extreme situations; however, I feel incredibly humbled and blessed to get to know these amazing people and share a part of their lives with them.