We chose to begin #STF360 in Cuzco, Peru, because that’s where Ana Dodson and her team from Peruvian Hearts will be working the first week of August. Their motto: “Changing the world, one heart at a time.”
We are so humbled and thankful to have the Peruvian Hearts team greet us at the airport and welcome us to their home in Cuzco. That night, the Dodsen family invited us to a special dinner, to meet their friends and native residents who have been part of Peruvian Hearts since its founding in 2003. Danny, the executive director and Ana’s brother, also introduced us to Edwin, who owns LaQuinta Eco Hotel, a 100% organic place for us to sleep (and they have wireless Internet, which means we can blog and tweet freely!).
We couldn’t dream of a warmer welcome to Peru, and we’re overjoyed to unlock our mission there: supporting girls’ education, alongside Ana. Now, will you join us in giving Ana a warm She’s the First welcome? Here’s a little bit more about her!
- She’s 18
- She was born in Cuzco, Peru and adopted by the Dodsens, who live in Colorado, when she was a baby. (Fun fact: The offices of Peruvian Hearts and AfricAid, our Tanzanian beneficiary for the GIRLS WHO ROCK NY concert, are located down the street from one another!)
- In the summer of 2003, at age 11, Ana visited the orphanages in Peru near where she was born. She brought toys and books for them. When she was leaving, an orphan named Gloria said to her, “Ana, I know you will not forget about us and that you will help us in the future.” That’s what inspired Ana to start Peruvian Hearts.
- Ana was honored as a CNN Hero and a former DoSomething Award finalist. Colin Powell also gave her the Prudential Spirit of Community Award in 2005. She was named one of the top 10 youth volunteers in the United States.
- This video is a wonderfully inspirational 3-minute introduction:
- Improve the quality of life for children in Peru who are living in orphanages or in extreme poverty
- Inspire youth in America to reach out and help others less fortunate than themselves
Maria’s Gift Scholarship Fund: Ana created this scholarship in the memory of her birth mother, who never learned to read or write. It supports secondary school education for girls in need.
- Orphanage Renovation: Peruvian Hearts works with the Hogar Mercedes de Jesus Molina, helping to make it a model orphanage by improving the schooling, sanitation, and structure. 20 girls live here, in the hills just outside of Cusco. They’ve also brought clean/hot water to the Hogar.
- Feeding and Vitamins: Peruvian Hearts supports two children’s lunch programs that serve about 400 children daily, who walk miles to get to school. They also provide a multivitamin daily (which is why we collected some at the recent #CelebrateSTF tweetup in NYC!)
- Medical and Health Care: Peruvian Hearts provides the children medical and dental exams, as well as emotional support through a visiting psychologist when needed.
- The Library Project: Peruvian Hearts sends children’s books in Spanish down to Peru.
- Tutoring Project: Ana and her volunteers provide extra homework help.
We aim to add Peruvian Heart’s sponsorship initiatives to our She’s the First directory upon our return to the States! What questions do you have for Ana about Peruvian Hearts? Leave them in the comments and we’ll ask!