Crazy times in Peru. Can you help?

You know I went to Peru with my daughter to serve the Sunflower Orphanage near Urubamba. After we were there, it poured rain in the Sacred Valley of the Incas, nonstop for 4 days and 4 nights. You may have heard about people being airlift-rescued out of Machu Picchu.

The hotel we stayed in? Destroyed. The restaurant we ate in? Destroyed. 30,000 homes gone. The Amazon rose to 4 times its normal height–and even when we were there, I stared at it for the 90-min. train ride to Machu Picchu, as it is the wildest river I’ve ever seen.

I’m glad to report that the orphanage (well located high on the hill) and all the kids are fine. The kids cleaned and widened the drainage systems the week before (Leo might be inspired?). Other families whose homes were destroyed climbed up to the orphanage for safety. Their school is okay. But the farm we planted in, that feeds the kids, was washed out. The clothes we sent have been given to many displaced people living in tents.

Another orphanage close by was destroyed, and 12 orphans desperately need a place to stay. Could you help by sponsoring a child? Here’s the link to do so, and may God bless you for helping:

Peru, part 5

I did, of course, take a Total Blender along to Peru to teach the orphanage’s cook. The kids were enthralled with how high tech it is. Here’s Carlos drinking a green smoothie and a not-great photo of me making it. I went to this open-air market (that’s how you buy food in Peru) and chose a lot of interesting things, including fruits kinda like we have in the U.S. and kinda different. Tree tomatoes. Apples that are long and skinny. Little, super-sweet bananas. A variety of spinach I’ve never seen.

My big mistakes were using cactus berries, which I thought would darken up the smoothie, but which actually just made too-big chunks of seed in it that had to be spit out. (I couldn’t find any berries that are dark in color.) And not using any ice (nobody has any) or frozen fruit. It wasn’t the best thing I’ve ever made, to be sure.

The Sunflower Orphanage, Peru Part 4

I have much more to tell you about our trip to Peru and especially the Sunflower Orphanage. In the swings (THANK YOU to GSG reader Patti for these photos!) are Purfita, Dayana, Janina, and me.

Janina is so cute and sweet, but she is impish and lets you know EXACTLY how she wants things to be! Dayana makes beautiful jewelry and drives a hard bargain. But she also wrapped a set of earrings up with gobs of paper and tape, and she and Janina presented them to me as a gift.

When I think of how badly I would like to take one or more of these girls out of Peru, I have to turn my brain away from the thought before my heart shatters in a million pieces, as impossible as that is.

The day we finished building this swing set, it rained all afternoon. The kids, though, took turns swinging all day long and into the night. No swing ever stood still. Classmates stood above the orphanage looking in, jealously. Some of these kids have never been in a swing. (Don’t worry, they figured it out. It didn’t take them long to learn to yell, “Empujame!” Push me! And to jump out at the height of the motion.)

In this photo with Cristofer, who is 7 years old and new to The Sunflower, whom Emma and I adore, we are hauling grass and rocks away before we built an outdoor wash basin. Cristofer rode in my wheelbarrow over and over, and it’s easy to carry him since he’s the size of a 4-year old! Seventeen percent of kids in Latin America are malnourished and Cristofer came as one of them. Now he gets three meals a day thanks to the generosity of Americans who sponsor kids at the Sunflower, run by two of the most amazing people I’ve ever met.

I looked high and low for a humanitarian organization that is truly dedicated to the welfare of street children and orphans, where virtually all of your money reaches the intended cause. I already know the founders. But I wanted to go there to see it, touch it. And I asked the kids, the intern, everyone, lots of questions. This organization, and this amazing home, is the real deal. Let me tell you a couple of examples of why I love this place:

One day I was pushing kids in the swings and Gabriel saw one of the teenage girls get into a swing with a big handful of grapes. He stopped his swinging and walked over to her, to ask for some. She give him half. Then he went back to swinging but noticed 5-year old Janina standing nearby. He slowed his swing to a stop, silently reached over and gave her half of his grapes. Then he started swinging again.

He never even knew I saw this. I never saw a fight the whole time I was at the orphanage. I never heard an argument, never saw meanness or selfishness. (I wish I could say the same about my own kids.) These children were rescued from savage abuse. From hiding and trying to survive in the jungle. From begging on the streets. From alcoholic parents. Many of them don’t even know their own birthday, how old they are. Many have no memory prior to age 8 because of that magnificent ability the body has to protect us from horribly painful memories.

Nora is an MD and PhD cancer researcher at the famous Houston MD Anderson Clinic. She came with a GSG reader (and often translated for us, including letters to the kids as we left, since she is a native of Argentina). Nora decided during the trip to sponsor a beautiful, quiet girl named Margot. (That means she pays the $37/month that covers Margot’s meals, and Nora is going to skype with Margot and send her clothes and shoes.) Margot was confiding in Nora the gossip at the Sunflower. “Papi Leo,” she whispered, “might convert this place to be an orphanage!” Margot ran away from two previous orphanages. At the Sunflower, the gates are always open, but no one has ever run away. The kids seem very genuinely happy to me.

Margot has no idea the Sunflower IS an orphanage. To her, it’s just . . .


Here’s where you sponsor one of the kids:

come with me to Peru in December

I have been looking for the perfect service opportunity for to reach out to the other half, the truly malnourished.   I’ve been learning about a variety of service opportunities around the world.

Check out the new page on GSG, including a photo of the orphanage we’re going to work at in December and some of the kids we’ll meet:


My friend Van has spent his career, including two advanced degrees, in fulltime humanitarian work.   I love his foundation that serves street children in Latin America by organizing and funding orphanage homes and drop-in centers.   The children are not only fed and sheltered, but they are given responsibilities tied to their school attendance, and other physical and emotional needs are addressed using mostly volunteer professionals, including access to adoptive homes. will be sponsoring children from the proceeds of recipe collection sales.   I ask those of you interested in nutrition and helping others if you would do the same: sponsor one child for $37/month.   GSG readers, all by themselves, can save a drop-in center whose funding has recently disappeared.   Please join me, learning about Generations Humanitarian and how it serves street children:


Additionally, let’s take the GreenSmoothieGirl mission to Peru together!  


I will be leading a humanitarian excursion to Peru Dec. 23 – Jan. 3, 2009, to the heart of the Sacred Valley of the Incas.   We will teach and work at the famous Sunflower Orphanage, the subject of the New York Times bestselling novel by Richard Paul Evans called The Sunflower.   We’ll visit the nearby town of Urubamba to shop in the market for fresh produce.   You can bring Christmas presents for children at the orphanage and we’ll spend Christmas and New Year’s with them.   Or you can come right after Christmas if you prefer.   (I’ll be bringing a certain turbo blender as a Christmas gift from us, of course, and teaching what to do with it!)


We are going to have a blast, and even more importantly, this trip will change your life forever.   We’ll visit Machu Picchu, one of the 7 Wonders of the World.   We’ll tour the city of Cusco, the oldest inhabited city in the western hemisphere.   We’ll see the sites of Q’enqo, the fortress ruins of Sacsayhuaman, and the sacred bathing waters of Tambomachay.   The locals believe if you drink from these fountains of youth three times, you’ll live forever!


We’ll visit the sacred ruins of Ollantaytambo, where pre-Incan peoples carved the face of their white bearded God into the mountain.   We will shop at the market in Pisac, one of the most famous markets in South America, known for artesans’ work and weavings and silver jewelry.


We’ll visit the floating reed islands on Lake Titicaca, the highest navigable lake in the world and also the largest lake in South America, with beautiful air and blue water.   We’ll stay in quaint bed & breakfast hotels.


The $1775 trip is tax deductible (the least expensive humanitarian excursion of the organizations I researched), and you get $75 off, if you register by Oct. 1.   I’m taking my daughter with us, a life-changing service opportunity for her and a bonding experience for the both of us.   Please consider bring your teenaged or young adult child as well!  


Please feel free to call and ask questions of Generations Humanitarian’s founder, my friend Van: 801-859-1033.


Here’s the link to register for the trip–I can take only 30 with me, and registration will close in October or until it fills, so please check it out:


Many thanks for opening up your heart to street children like Gabriel either as a monthly sponsorship, or to come meet the orphans in person in December with me, or both!


Much love,