When I first began studying the martial arts over 20 years ago, I started out as a white belt, as everyone does. My first thought was, “Stand back everybody, I know karate!” Only as I developed into more advanced levels and finally into brown belt training did I realize how premature and dangerous that thinking was. Wisdom is knowing that you have so much more to learn.
When VolunteerMatch’s Laura Weiss wrote a wonderful spotlight article about Changes for New Hope and my initial efforts to develop this project and reach poor children and their families in the Peruvian Andes, we had many positive and wonderful responses. That was in October 2011. My martial arts training taught me that we had a long way to go and so much more to learn to accomplish our objectives for the children living in destitution.
No one can do much alone. I sure couldn’t, and I credit the efforts of the international volunteers, such as the ones that are here on VolunteerMatch, for making our project what it has become since Laura’s initial contact with me. In my blogs I write how “Compassion without action is like a picnic without food.” Here are some of the results of the compassionate actions of our volunteers:
Kekai in Tokyo, Japan collected children’s school supplies, clothing and funds and brought them to us in Huaraz, then returned and made a short film clip about our project.
Sergui, a photojournalist for National Geographic, met me while filming an expedition in the area. He was moved by our work and interviewed me and filmed the children of the project in action to be included in an upcoming National Geographic special.
Richard and his family in Toronto, Canada visited to volunteer and now source, collect and bring down to Peru clothing, school supplies, hygiene supplies, shoes, toys and games and promotional materials for the project, as well as providing funding. Richard travels to Peru three or four times a year to do this.
Marcus and his family send us suitcases of materials and supplies from the U.S. for the children, which we cannot obtain locally.
Ruth, from the Vancouver area, is a professional schoolteacher and joined us recently to share her expertise and develop ideas to further the project from back home.
Gunvor, from Denmark, who volunteered with us this year, returned to Denmark and she and her mother are supplying Christmas gifts for all the children for the second year in a row.
The value of volunteers cannot be overstated. Without the compassion in action of volunteers, whether from home or in the field, NGOs and other nonprofits simply would disappear. Thousands who depend on these organizations would be lost.
Finally, after almost 5 years, it was time to share our story with the world. I wrote and recently published an e-book entitled, “A Gringo in Peru – A Story of Compassion in Action,” (available through Lulu.com, Kobobooks.com, Amazon and Bookcountry.com) which shares our story of challenges and subsequent successes and victories that followed. If you want to make the world a better place, this is a definite read for you.
In the words of Margaret Mead, “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.” Live large my friends, live deliberately.
Jim Killon is from Baltimore, Maryland. In 2009 he fulfilled a long-time dream of developing a project for the benefit of children living in a 3rd world country. He is an exhibited artist and photographer, writer/author and a social activist. His “Haz lo Correcto – Do the Right Thing” campaign in Huaraz, Peru has increased community awareness toward positive development there. His newly published e-book, “A Gringo in Peru – A Story of Compassion in Action,” has already reached readers in seven countries. He has never returned to the United States.