Bevin's Trip to Peru


I learned about Sense the World through my co-worker Kirsten Koehler, one of the founders. Originally, I planned a trip to Peru to go backpacking, and Kirsten asked me if I was interested in organizing a donation trip there. Going on a donation trip sounded like an excellent use of my time in the country. I read more about STW on their website and was pleased to learn about their mission to provide goods associated with the five basic senses.  It’s such a simple, effective way to immediately make a difference in someone’s life.  

 When I arrived in Cuzco, Peru, I used the money STW provided to shop for items to distribute in underprivileged areas surrounding the city. I worked with STW’s Peruvian contact Alfonso; we purchased goods from local businesses in Cuzco. These items included toothpaste, toothbrushes, vitamins, shampoo, soap, lotion, school supplies, and more. We spent the first day making gift bags. This was very exciting for me because contributing to the local economy made me feel that my trip was worthwhile. I wasn’t just a tourist: I was working toward making a difference. 

 The following day we made our trip into the Sacred Valley near Cuzco.  We first traveled to Chinchero, then to Raqchi, and finally to Ollantaytumbo.  This day was amazing because we donated gift bags to a school with about 60 children, then to about 20 women in the plaza of Chinchero, and then to a number of children in Ollantaytumbo.  All of our items were very well received and very much needed. Many of the people in the rural areas were vitamin deficient and they also needed lotion to protect their skin because the sun is so intense at such high elevations. Even the children had very dark sunspots on their cheeks from constant exposure to intense UV rays.  

 The people were grateful for all the gifts we brought and I was amazed at all the life lessons they taught me. It’s easy for us to forget here in the US that we could live a little more simply and still be happy. The Sense the World donation trip reminded me of this. I was particularly moved by a few local artisans in Chinchero. They were selling their craft goods in the center plaza of town. When they received gift bags from us, they gave us a few handmade bags and bracelets as a thank you. These were items they spent hours creating and it confirmed how grateful they were for the gift bags. It felt very special to be able to provide these families with things that would make their day a little better. If we all made small differences every day, the world would change dramatically. Sense The World provided me with the opportunity to do just that and I feel very fortunate to have had this experience.