My name is Trevor Inso. I had the amazing opportunity to go to Peru during the spring break of 2015 as a junior. First, I want to say thank you to Bright Light Volunteers for providing us this amazing journey, to Mrs. Bernard - the teacher who always supported us in fundraising, to our translator from Lima Eduardo, and our translator from Cusco Fernando, to our driver in Cusco, and the catering company who let us use their kitchen.
On our first day in Peru, we hit the ground running. We immediately dropped off our luggage at the hotel and traveled to a local community outside the city where we started our first community service project. We helped the community build the foundation for a school and picked up trash around the area. It was laborious work. For the group helping the foundation, we carried giant rocks on a tarp and dumped them in the foundation area. I was excited to help the people in Peru ever since we arrived, so I liked working hard. We did not finish the foundation that day, and I felt a little disappointed. However, Mrs. Greenberg said to us that whatever we do to help them, even if it seems small, is always appreciated.
The next day, we took a plane to Cusco. After we settled in the hotel, we did a scavenger hunt. I felt like an explorer and an adventurer. As we got farther in the competition, I wanted to see more of the city and travel random streets, not win the hunt. What really amazed me was the incredible architecture of the city. There were giant, ornate, cathedrals.
Our first service project was at a vocational school about an hour away (by car) from Cusco. We painted a classroom, helped build a guinea pig shelter, and taught the students some English. This is an important thing to know about Peru: Guinea pigs are a good source of protein is easily found, so they are a staple. (hence the guinea pig shelter). We shoveled loads of dirt and gravel into wagons which were then brought inside the school and dumped into a pile. This process was repeated multiple times. Then we mixed the pile with cement; this would be for the shelter's foundation. After that, we helped stack the cement bricks for the shelter's base. All of this was done over a couple of days. It was a laborious experience, but I felt proud that I did something that would actually impact a kid's life.
As we rode up to Machu Picchu, I was mystified. There were so many green mountains jutting out from the fog; it was like we were in a hidden world. The Incas were amazing architects to build their whole city by hand. They were also adept astronomers.
Our last service project in Cusco involved cooking with orphans at a catering company's kitchen. Each of our group was partnered up with an orphan and we were separated into two groups. One group learned how to cook a traditional Peruvian dish "Lomo Saltado" – cooked vegetables and beef with fries. However, we had to cut the vegetables and flambe the beef. Kids, knives, and fire … oh my. My partner had good knife skills, but I had to constantly keep him from handling the hot pan. I had to flambe the beef which was scary since that was the first time I ever did it, but it was a thrilling experience. The other dish we made was a version of "Causa Rellena" - a potato dish with chicken or tuna garnished with eggs, olives, avocados. Both of these dishes were tasty, and I enjoyed cooking with my partner, and he had a lot of fun, too. After everyone cooked both dishes, we ate together like a family.
Even though all the things I've said so far have been positive, the truth is we also saw some harsh realities too. Right outside the city were slums, poverty, and distress. I learned that there are so many poor and lower class people compared to the handfuls of rich people in Peru. There would be skyscrapers and restaurants next to houses made out of clay. It was a humbling experience. I learned to be content with what I have. I also saw the resilience of the people in poverty, especially in Lima, as they worked so hard to survive. Even the kids work so hard. They walk miles to get to school, or leave their home for a few weeks to attend it. They go through a tough time at an even earlier age. Some families in Peru don't have access to medicine or medicinal services, so the kids and babies struggle as they endure sickness. For the ones that survive, their immune system is very strong, but as they age, it will get weaker because it exhausted itself too much at that early age. However, what I loved about these people were that even though they were in such a tough situation, they persevered. I never heard them complain or mope (even the kids), and they smiled. Seeing all of that has inspired me to travel and to help people around the world as a doctor; I want to heal people and remove diseases. It's also inspired me to work hard like them and not complain or mope when push comes to shove.
I want to help people in my future, and I hope this influences you to help others too.