Living and Giving

I Am the Developing Person – A Journey to Peru [Part 1 of 4]

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This is the first of a four-part series entitled I Am the Developing Person. This is an unedited account of a personal journey and will be followed by stories from a few more of my international volunteer trips. Many of the experiences on these trips would become the impetus for founding UniversalGiving™.  You can see additional photos here.


In reading this 7 years later, I realize how profound my experience in Peru was.  The immediate town of Lima was gorgeous. It abuts an astounding coast and cliff…its history and time past is so beautifully present in the architecture, centuries old cobblestones, and surrounding nature. Lima, and the history of Peru, is indeed precious.


While I had been on my development and volunteer trips, this one to Peru made it all come together. I saw how much we had to learn from others regarding community, shared time, culture and values, and at the same time the rampant devastation of poverty in the majority of our world.  It was such a shock for me to truly comprehend this firsthand…  This was an absolutely pivotal trip for me, where I have finally realized so much of how the world works.

In my volunteer experience but a few miles outside the city, there was the beauty, heart and resilience of the people, contrasted with, at times, a sense of devastation.  Yet the experience made me so happy to be with people all over the world. I have even greater compassion and recognition of what their lives are like…The intensity of the experience just helps me live more fully and consciously; with greater simplicity and gratitude. 

As always, each volunteer experience provides strong lessons learned.  I learned more how I could strive to build the warm, strong sense of community they have (they are helping me). Through listening, I was also able to hear how they would like to receive help, through requested resources (we are helping them).  It can be a beautiful, sharing partnership in how we can both learn from each other, and live life more fully.  


August 21, 2003


I still get really overwhelmed.

I just talk about it less.

I’ve just returned from a visit to Peru, where it was a mix of vacation, tourism, nature, culture, and, NGO Site Visits.

I was so excited to go to Peru.  I guess the first images which come to mind for me are of color; of culture; of history; of vibrant clothing; of Inca civilization, and of course, Machu Piccu.

I arrived at 4:30 in the morning to the airport, and I thought,

I must be in India.

It felt punishing

It felt the same way.   Dismal, grey, rundown buildings and streets, stray dogs wandering, scampering, sullenly across streets, heads ducked as if they were always expecting to be in trouble, punished.  That’s it… It felt punishing, the demeanor right outside of the airport, as we started to drive…

The driver was so kind.  “You will not want to stay in the hotel you booked, Miss,”  he said. “Trust me.  It’s not safe. You cannot do that here. You cannot walk —  outside.  I will take you where can walk.”

He took me to a safe hotel.  I slept from 6:00 a.m. until 9:20 a.m. and then up to coordinate my first NGO site visit.


You can take action.

Give to UniversalGiving NGO Partner Program For a Better Peru

Give to support development projects in Peru

Volunteer to explore communities in Peru