Northerners reach out to kids in Peru

🕔Sep 22, 2005

Northerners will again get a chance to share their wealth with those less fortunate.

A team of volunteers from Smithers, Alaska and California will this winter embark on another journey to help traumatized children in Peru.

The initiative Earthwalk was originally started in 1993. Since then, led by Jodi Miller of Alaska, the holistic health care team is dedicated to help children deal with the effects of living in extreme violence, poverty and disease.

During four weeks in January of 2005, the volunteers will treat at least 1,500 children.

From early morning until late evening, the team will work out of make-shift clinics, located in the heart of different “barrios,” or villages.

The locations are often dangerous, but the team is well received, as it is invited by community members. News travel fast and children come from the streets, and from anywhere within walking distance, sometimes as far as a day’s walk away.

These children have little or no access to resources, and often do not know love or safety.

One of the treatments the children receive is structural integration, which is a type of bodywork that helps unwind trauma and injury. The children also receive counselling, homeopathy, flower essences, therapeutic art and play, as well as lots of love.

Most of the people in the communities become involved in the healing, so when the team leaves, the locals continue to heal and address the issues facing them.

The volunteeers return to some of the same communities year after year, and have an opportunity to see the children, their families and communities change, grow and heal over time.

The work is funded by the volunteers themselves, which requires a lot of fundraising. Each team member involves their home community.

In 2003, Smithers school children made bracelets, drawings and letters for the children in Peru. The volunteers delivered these colourful packages to excited children, who in return made bracelets and drawings for the children in B.C.

“Everything the children sent us from Peru was treasured. Parents and kids are eager to do this again two years later. This is very inspiring,” said Bev Dau, a Smithers teacher involved in the school project.

This year is no different. Local children will again participate in a similar friendship exchange.

The Bulkley Valley has been very generous in the past, helping to make the trip possible by donating money for much-needed supplies. This year is no exception; members of the community have already come forward to help.

“It is important to step back and recognize how fortunate we are, and try to dig deep to help children who are living in horrible conditions,” Smithers resident Gail Jenne said.

Another regular donor, Deb Schmitz, said: “I feel proud to have supported this team over the years. If given an opportunity like this, these children’s lives do change for the better.”

If you would like to support the work, or receive more information, you can contact Aleila Miller, Children of Peru, by phone: (250) 877-9579, or by mail: Box 484, Smithers, B.C. V0J 2N0.