By Jackie Moynihan
Youthlinc has called Peru home for the past 15 years thanks to partnerships with our amazing in-country coordinator, Carlos Acosta, the Rotary Club of Iquitos, and countless other community leaders. In order to provide sustainable international humanitarian work in Peru and the other countries we serve, Youthlinc does not stay in one community for more than 3 years. After two years worth of Youthlinc teams and work in Santa Isabel, a small river village outside of Iquitos, our Peru June team had the unique opportunity to see the fruits of Youthlinc’s labor first hand.
A young man from Santa Isabel attended one of the Youthlinc business seminars and was inspired to create a business of his own. After he was married, he built his new family home on the ground level instead of building a home on stilts like everyone else in the village. He then turned the front part of his home into a “Jungle Sports Bar” where locals can go to get a drink or watch soccer on his satellite TV. He also sells knick-knacks like soda pop, Cheeto-type chips, and medicine. He makes enough money to pay for the satellite TV every month, and the “Jungle Sports Bar” has become the social light of the village. The Peru June team happened to be in Santa Isabel while the World Cup was happening, and one afternoon, almost the entire team took a break from construction to huddle into the Jungle Sports Bar and watch a soccer game.
The Peru team was fortunate enough to see the amazing strength and growth that can come from a long-term partnership with a community. At Youthlinc, our international service work is not necessarily meant to change peoples’ lives or bring something to them that they don’t already have. In fact, almost every Youthlinc participant would tell you that they received more from their two week experience than they could have ever hoped to give. Maybe the greatest gift of a partnership like the one between Youthlinc and Peru, is the knowledge that each person was a part of something much bigger than themselves, and the hope that for many years to come, people will visit the “Jungle Sports Bar” to build friendships and to be together.