In Cuzco, we had the pleasure of following Peruvian Hearts, an American-led non-profit in Peru. In Lima, we’re seeing organizations created and run entirely by Peruvians, and there are lots of differences between them. Most of all, the Peruvian non-profits lack the resources to market themselves with creative fundraisers and don’t have much volunteer labor to work with. In Peru, the majority can’t afford to donate time because they need to find ways to make money to support their own families.
The solution, even more needed in Peru: Building businesses to support the cause. Both sites we visited were taking the first shaky steps toward this goal. First, we stopped by the Casa Hogar “El Rebano de Jesus,” an orphanage (though they never call it an orphanage from within, but rather a “home” or “community” to promote the idea of family) for about 30 kids ranging from 2 months old to 16 years. We interviewed the director, Isabel Bajlatto, who told us about the school fees for kids and their daily routine. Next to the Hogar is a humble shop, painted with pink walls, selling pasteles, desserts, that opened on July 1st, and so far has made about 40 soles a month (not even $15 USD) — not much, but hopefully as awareness in the community grows, more people will stop by to support the home. Cynthia wants to help them with a better business plan. Isabel said the Hogar’s main source of funding is churches and aid from missionaries…everywhere here, there seems to be a huge lack of support from government, corporations, and international aid organizations.
The Hogar was our only scheduled visit for the day, but then Cynthia got talking with our taxista and he led us to another Hogar he donates toys to — el Hogar de Vida. This is a home for 10 families that have HIV positive mothers and children, run by director Ruth Alvarez. Ruth recently opened a public lunch room inside the Hogar, where the mothers cook meals not only for the kids but also for anyone in the community, at the low price of 3 soles a plate. You can’t find a cheaper meal and the pasta prepared on Tuesday looked delicious. However, the community fears HIV and doesn’t realize that it’s transmitted by blood, not by eating an HIV Positive person’s food or breathing their air, so they don’t enter. Ideally, the Hogar would have a little restaurant down the street, not inside the home — and the community would receive education on how HIV is really transmitted — but there aren’t the resources to do this. So Ruth is working with what she has and trying new ideas. While we popped in, she had a meeting she welcomed us to join with a woman who is piloting a recycling program that will employ women. The women at the Hogar can work here to clean bottles and make a small income, and in the process, she hopes to educate the community about the environment.
Visiting both hogares gave us lots to think about when it comes to running a non-profit without relying fully on donations — you need a business model behind it. We talked about our day over a lunch muy rico at a new restaurant near the house we’re staying at — Esencia Kri Olla, inside the Plaza Vea in Churrillos. The chef was so smart and trained in kitchens all over the world, so his restaurant had modern touches that reminded us of NYC, and the meals were only 10 soles a plate. We told him about She’s the First and he loved the concept!
Wednesday is our sightseeing day (we shuffled the schedule around a bit — the key to traveling is being flexible!) and Thursday we visit the Sagrada Familia community for orphans, which we blogged about last week. Chau!