It all started with a father/daughter trip to Peru in July of 2008. Surprisingly, I met a guy during that trip. (Who meets a guy when they are traveling with their dad?!) Anyway, I returned to Peru in September to see him.
During that first trip back, he took me on a trek in the Andes with another couple. Our group had hired a local farmer, Antonio, to carry our heavy supplies and gear on his horse and mule.
The first night we didn’t make it as far as we had planned because I was struggling with the altitude. At nearly 14,000 feet, I could only manage a few steps at a time before I had to stop to catch my breath. So, we ended up camping on the farm where Antonio lived with his family.
From what I could tell Antonio and his family didn’t have heat, electricity, or running water in their one-room home. Yet, in spite of their meager circumstances, on that cold and starry night, Antonio and his wife killed a chicken and cooked us a delicious dinner.
This incredible act of generosity stunned me. Here were people who appeared to have so little, sharing so much. It was then that I realized I could make a difference in Antonio’s life and in the lives of others who had not been as fortunate as I.
So, I started a philanthropic adventure travel company – Llama Expeditions. I knew from the start that I wanted to include llama in the name of the company. You see, in the Andean religion llamas represent unconditional love. This is because they provide so much to the Andean people – meat for food, fur for warmth, and transport for heavy loads. They were even sacrificed to the Andean deities.
As I created each philanthropic adventure, I searched out grassroots non-profit projects that we could visit and support. It was during one of these quests for projects that I stumbled upon the Chicuchas Wasi School for Impoverished Girls.
I learned that when a girl is born into a poor family, she is often sent out to do domestic work while a boy born into the same family is sent to school. The consequences of this situation become especially dire once these girls reach adulthood. They must depend on an educated husband to financially support them and their children. Should their husband leave, women are forced to make a difficult choice – to live on the street with their children or to abandon their children in favor of finding men who can support them.
I was blown away by this story. And, I have since focused our philanthropic work on helping women and girls in the developing countries we visit.
Clearly, that father/daughter trip unexpectedly changed my life. So much so, that I added to my work as a corporate consultant to start Llama Expeditions. It’s been worth it!
I’d like to invite you to join me on an adventure that gives you the chance to change lives for the better and that has the power to change your perspective, maybe even your life.