Author/Giver/TOMS Campus Club Leader: Bonnie Hopkins, Loyola University - New Orleans
Location of Giving Trip: Callao (and surrounding areas), Peru
Host/Giving Partner: Coprodeli
On a recent Giving Trip in Peru, we gained valuable insight into the impoverished living conditions in Callao, Ica and surrounding areas as well as what Coprodeli, a TOMS Giving Partner, has done for families in need. Imagine, homes constructed with everyday materials, such as plastic or cardboard! We visited one household that lacked proper services for basic needs, but the state of the home had never crushed the family’s spirits. The single mother and her children continue to benefit from Coprodeli’s programs and look forward to what the future holds. Living with gratitude became the central theme of our trip. During our trip, we needed to step out of our comfort zones and face an unfortunate reality. To visit poverty-stricken areas and learn what families do to provide for their households struck a chord with me. The conditions in which they live, learn, work, and play continue to improve with help from Coprodeli.
Started nearly 25 years ago by Padre Miguel, this amazing organization has been dedicated to serving those in the most impoverished regions of Peru. Coprodeli takes an active role in not only the lives of the children, but also the adults. I was amazed by the services that Coprodeli has provided over the years to the people in the community. Their programs offer opportunities in education, health services, humanitarian aid, job creation and housing. Meeting Padre Miguel and hearing how neighborhoods have made great strides made me appreciate Coprodeli and its efforts. I could also never forget the Coprodeli volunteers, who put in so much time and resources into the programs. We visited several schools with passionate teachers and leaders to help distribute shoes, and I couldn’t help but recognize the positive impact Coprodeli and its partnership with TOMS has made on the children.
New shoes are repeatedly delivered to the children as they grow. After giving shoes to the children, we would stay around and play with them. Whether it was playing soccer or painting faces, I enjoyed every single moment with those kids. Though I knew little Spanish, the language barrier never affected my experience with them. Smiles, hugs and laughs became the most meaningful forms of communication. The Giving Trip participants and I had the chance to see the impact a pair of shoes can have on a child's life when integrated into Coprodeli’s programming that improves health and school attendance. Without shoes, a child is unable to attend school and risks getting soil-based infections. The black canvas TOMS Shoes were distributed to help remove prejudice and stigma between the kids. Being with those children and distributing the shoes helped me further appreciate Corprodeli and its partnership with TOMS.
The Coprodeli Giving Trip is an experience that I’ll never forget and cannot wait to share with others. Those children, their families, Padre Miguel and the Coprodeli volunteers will remain forever in my heart.