Last week I had the honor to go to Lima, Peru, through Lilly's Connecting Hearts Abroad program (same program that sent me to India last year, where I taught English and math to young kids from the streets of Delhi). This time my role was to work with a talented film crew (two great guys) to document the journey. But this was SO much more than a business trip.
Heart breaking. Soul filling. Inspiring.
Lilly and other volunteers mostly worked in an impoverished but resilient community on the outskirts of the city center. I, along with Bart Peterson, Lilly senior vice president of corporate affairs and communications, Steve Rosenthal, founder of Cross-Cultural Solutions, and our video crew, had the opportunity to travel to various sites to see our volunteers in action. They were impressive beyond words.
We even got to roll up our sleeves -- because you simply couldn't see what we saw and not jump in. We cared and cooked for the elderly in a senior center, visited some of them in their homes to better understand their situation (often dire), built a new room and roof for a woman whose house was literally falling apart, and played and sang with children with severe disabilities that often relegate them to societal outcasts.
Like India, Peru taught me a lot about the human condition. But more importantly, it reminded me about the enduring human spirit that connects us all. Even in these darkest of circumstances, we met some of the most amazing, selfless, joyful people I have ever encountered. And I was reminded of what I learned in India: people everywhere -- young and old -- just want to be respected, loved, and to know that they matter.
Stay tuned for a series of videos in the coming weeks....