By Reggie Ament, Reliv Kalogris Foundation Director
With each trip to visit our Reliv Kalogris Foundation feeding programs, I leave with the feeling that every country is unique. I’m always taken by the delicious food, distinctive culture, friendly people and amazing volunteers who are so committed to our mission. What is not unique is the level of poverty found among the children in our programs. Peru is no exception.
There was no one special child or one special story, but rather one program we visited during our trip to Cusco that left a lasting impression. This charming city of about 350,000 people is located at an altitude of more than 12,000 feet and surrounded by the Andes Mountains. With Machu Picchu close by, more than 2 million tourists visit every year, creating a visitor-dependent economy.
Our drive to the little school high in the mountains was well beyond the tourist areas and far away from daily conveniences that most of us take for granted. What they lacked in resources or wealth, they more than made up for with their warm welcome, as music played and children seemed to drip with vibrant color in their customary clothing.
Light in the Darkness
The only dependable crop in this high altitude is potatoes; more than 3,000 varieties can be found in Peru. But animals are scarce. For four months each year, their diet consists of fresh potatoes and very little meat. Potatoes are also dried, providing a food source for an additional two months. The balance of the year leaves them scrounging for any source of nourishment.
Winters are brutal, and even during a mild day in May, cold weather and strong winds chap the cheeks of children. Weather-related illness is prevalent. Children have to repeat classes several times due to their lack of nutrition, which affects their ability to attend and focus. The result: 74% of the people in this province of Peru are illiterate.
It sounds like a grim picture, but it was inspiring to see these happy and healthy kids acting like any other children. Thanks to the work of the RKF, they are thriving. Their teachers report better concentration and more energy and that the kids no longer sleep in class.
A Servant’s Heart
Taylor Benson of Florida started as a Reliv customer, then became a Distributor and today runs his own non-profit organization to help Peruvian children — the Potter’s Hand Foundation. He is also our RKF Area Coordinator in Peru. “My experiences in Peru led me to begin this ministry of helping these children after seeing their dire need,” Taylor says.
He approached the RKF in 2008 about supplying enough Reliv Now® for Kids to feed 89 children daily. Six years later, the Foundation is providing daily nutrition to 600 kids. The feeding programs are small and in remote areas where travel is challenging and where children are at risk of malnutrition and lack basic resources.
Thank you, Taylor, for your dedication to these precious kids. With your help we are changing their lives, and a little quality nutrition is making a lasting impact. Please continue to support the Reliv Kalogris Foundation so that our work can continue in Peru and around the world.