To begin, as a traveler who has been all over the US, and spent significant time in Oceania, Peru is an incredible country. At the time of writing this I have been to Peru twice, both under the guidance and expertise of Voices for Peru. My initial contact with the organization was via a spring break trip with my alma mater, West Chester University. The ensuing week was nothing short of life changing, giving me a proper glimpse into the lives of marginalized communities. By that, I mean the places that the world, at large, seems to be unaware of, or even worse, dismiss or forget. I slept on the floor and shared a single, manual flush toilet with over a dozen other students and faculty. We all knew what we signed up for, but no one knew the impact that an experience like that would hold. Coming back from that first trip to Peru I knew there was a part of me that was left in the country. Spending time with the families and children in Las Lomas, a part of my heart will forever reside in the hills. I followed up a few months later, and returned to Peru with no reason other than to immerse myself in the culture, and learn more about the country itself. I returned to smiling faces of the children, all remembering me and my distinctive hairstyle, if not also my Peruvian name, Mateo. In my two week long summer break I was able to spend time watching the Club Dan soccer players practice, improve, and even recruit a new teammate. I explored the city of Lima, and the art districts in Miraflores. I discovered a little bit more about myself in the sand dunes of Ica, but bar none, my favorite and most memorable moments were watching the children of Las Lomas, Ventanilla, running down the hill to the Voices for Peru schoolhouse to come say “hola.” As I said before, there will always be a part of my heart in those hills, and every time I visit it is harder to leave. If I could ever implore someone to help a cause that is truly doing good, or go to a place that will have a significant impact on your world view, reach out to Voices for Peru. It is an outstanding organization that I can wholeheartedly say puts every ounce of strength, every bead of sweat, and every penny they receive to good use, and back into a community with incredible people. Thank you Voices for Peru, Dan, and Brian, for everything you have shown me in your country, I wait only until I can return again.
Matt “Mateo” Bonham