As my flight landed in Cajamarca, in northwestern Peru, I wasn’t sure what to expect. I’d taken many trips to Asia and Africa in my role as LWR’s emergency program manager but this was my first trip to South America. My concerns about altitude sickness turned out to be groundless. However, there was one thing I had not anticipated: cold weather!
Part of my job is overseeing the warehousing, shipping and distribution side of Project Promise and LWR’s Quilt program. LWR ships more than $12 million of quilts and kits around the world each year and I help ensure those items reach the hands of those in need. That includes monitoring distributions, which is why I was traveling to Peru.
LWR has been shipping items to Peru in partnership with Cáritas del Peru for many years. Cáritas works to serve Peruvians who are the most vulnerable due to proximity to disaster risk areas, lack of access to clean water, and high unemployment rates. This partnership is particularly special because LWR splits the shipment with Cáritas and distributes some of the items to people participating in LWR agriculture projects.
After traveling for three hours up into the Andes Mountains, we reached a village called Hualgayoc — and there were already 80 families waiting as we pulled up to the distribution site at the local primary school! The excitement was as crisp as the thin, cool air. The daytime temperature hovered in the 60s but at night it would fall to just above freezing. LWR is working with dairy farming families in this area to improve cheese production and on better use of rain water for irrigation.
While quilts and kits are not directly related to this project, they do allow families to concentrate their hard earned income on the essentials, like food and firewood. During this distribution, children lined up first to receive Personal Care and School Kits. After that were pregnant women and new mothers who received Baby Care and Personal Care Kits, along with Quilts. Finally, the remaining men and women from the village received Quilts and Personal Care Kits.
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On day two, we traveled to an even more remote location called Moran Lirio to distribute Quilts, along with Personal Care, School and Baby Care Kits to eight families participating in LWR’s Adapting Together project. This project is helping farmers adapt to changing climate conditions by building water reservoirs that help irrigate fields where cows graze. This improves the quality of the milk the cows produce, which then improves the price for which it can be sold. Families can also make better quality cheese with the improved milk.
Throughout both distributions, while shivering at the cold, I thought about how important warm Quilts really are to the families I met. I also thought about how “warm” is a relative term. Here in the U.S. temperatures in the 70s are delightful, but in some places where LWR works families are used to temperatures in excess of 90 degrees, making the 70s seem cold. That’s why it’s essential that we continue to make our Quilts warm, sturdy and durable. Your Quilt might be traveling to elder care homes in the hills of Tanzania or to Syrian refugees in Jordan or maybe even to the high elevations of Peru.
No matter where a Quilt goes, warmth is just as important as the love being sewn into it.