Just last month a group of GVN trekkers returned from possibly the most spectacular trek in the Americas – Machu Picchu. Together they donated their time, raised over US$27,000 in critical funds, and had the courage and spirit to embark on this adventure. By joining this fundraising trek they aided the refurbishment of a Peruvian orphanage. What an amazing effort! Jessica Jalea was one of our inspirational trekkers and below she shares with you her reflections on the experience.
‘The Machu Picchu trek was the most difficult, and at the same time, most rewarding experience of my young life. Before I even lef
t home for Peru, there was so much anticipation and build up towards the trek because of the amazing support and generous donations from my family, friends and church. There remained with me an overwhelming sense that the trek wasn't just something I wanted to accomplish for myself, but something I HAD to accomplish; for the kids that GVN was going to help through Peruvian Hearts, as a 'thank you' to all those that were encouraging me from home and finally, as a victory that I could lift up in praise.
In Cuzco, the night before we left for the first day of h
iking, our wonderful guide advised us to enjoy the hike, he told us that Machu Picchu would wait for us, so for the first three days 'just enjoy the journey'. On my own journey, I managed to catch a bit of altitude sickness on the first day. I was so exhausted that our guide seriously asked me to consider turning back since the second day required us to climb even higher. I skipped supper that night to cry in my tent and weigh out my options for the next morning. After sincere reflection with my tent-mate and after some of the other participants, who I'd only known for the past two days, encouraged me to go on and told me they'd walk with me, no matter how slow I'd have to go, I felt so empowered that I decided to go on.
The next day, we went up another 1000 meters in altitude and reached the highest point on the trek at 42000 ft. It was the most victorious feeling to stand at the peak of that mountain amongst the clouds. And though, as promised, Machu Picchu awaited us on the fourth day in all it's majesty, I would have to say that the challenge of the trek was the biggest reward, because the more difficult the challenge became, the more rewarding it felt to overcome.
Finally, the cherry on top of the whole trip had to be meeting the children during the project days that followed. It was a deeper kind of reward to see the work first-hand. I believe our group was lucky to see the Pampallacta School at the infancy of it's transformation through GVN/Peruvian Hearts, still rugged and plain, and then experience the almost complete transformation of the Hogar Mercedes de Jesus Molina Orphanage with their new bathrooms, laundry room, kitchen and dining room.
The change was absolutely amazing, and the kids were so unforgettable. The whole trip sparked a sort of passion in me that I hope I can use to promote, propagate and participate in more change. Even on the last day, instead of feeling like it was the end of a trip, it definitely felt more like the beginning of a new journey. Congratulations to all the participants of the Machu Picchu Trek 2009!’
The next GVN Fundraising Trek is in January 2010 and gives participants the opportunity to help provide disadvantaged African kids in schools and orphanages with basic needs such as food, medical care, and education. Plus, trekkers will also have the chance to bag one of the world's seven summits - Mt Kilimanjaro.
The 2008 Mt Kilimanjaro Fundraising Trek raised over US$40 000 for the Africa Children's fund and provided hundreds of orphans in Kenya with shelter, food, clothing, education, and medical care. This year we are hoping to raise $50 000 which will again be used to assist with the basic needs of a number of orphanage projects, and in addition, fund events for local youth and partner organizations. The focus of these events will be to teach leadership skills, instil confidence, and inspire change.
Come on, who is up for the challenge?