Even though I was fully vaccinated, I was still anxious because I hadn´t visited my native country Peru for more than a year. I decided to make this trip to be with my family, especially with my father, to be with him for his second vaccination shot and have the chance to check-in with some of the artisans who we work with closely.
I had been planning this trip for a long time, collecting, and organizing donations for the artisan communities. My neighbors, in particular, have been very supportive. During the pandemic, we’ve grown close to so many neighbors to the point that they’re helping my husband take care of our girls during my absence for 3 weeks. Also, my husband has been an angel, supporting this trip to spend time with my father, even though I felt torn between being the negligent daughter for not visiting sooner or the worst mom on the planet for leaving them for this extended time.
But in additional to all of that, I never imagined the solidarity and generosity of my neighbors: 2 days before the trip, I asked around for old cell phones and ipads to support the virtual education of the artisans´ kids and my neighbors responded right away with 11 devices. There is no doubt that I have angels everywhere and I must be thankful for that.
The day of my departure, I arrived to the O’Hare airport with 4 suitcases (2 of them full of donations). It was tough to manage everything around the terminal, but thanks to F45 Naperville | Team Training | F45 Training and naperville-waves-swim-club , I said to myself: “You got this, you’ve trained for this moment! (LoL)”.
Travel rules are different everywhere and in the case of Peru, you need to show a negative COVID test before boarding and then have double mask and face shield to be worn on the flight and everywhere once you land in Peru. It didn’t matter if I had been completely vaccinated or not. The situation is so much more fragile there as the healthcare system takes no chances knowing it literally “hanging on for dear life” with the amount of cases in the country.
Once I arrived, I could feel something that I hadn’t experience for a long time: a gray and sad Lima where COVID-19 has impacted the entire city. Restaurants, stores, and companies had been shuttered. There was a curfew every night at 9pm. It is mandatory to use double masks everywhere. Many people have lost their jobs, and you could see the strain on people´s faces. On top of all of it, there was a presidential election, to replace the previous president who was marred in corruption. Like the US, the political uncertainty was just another weight hanging over the country.
In order to protect my father, I decided to limit visits to friends (normally, I would be making plans weeks in advance, this time I ‘snuck’ into the country, unannounced). And with the artisans, it was difficult to visit with them and get them the donations in a safe way. Together with my partner, Jorge, we were able to reach and give them donations.
I also had the chance to visit the NGO, Inspira, who supports kids and their families during extended cancer treatments or those with down syndrome. I was invited to see the progress on building their second shelter. We also had the chance to donate more bilingual fair trade books to Inspira’s kids: “Cuyita wants to know the world”, hand sanitizers and some cookies.
In the meantime, and thanks to Faire, hello Abound, Shopify and angels in general, orders have continued arriving from USA, that kept us busy planning the production, coordinating remotely with the artisans and giving them more work. We were able to maintain a steady income for these families during this extraordinary time.
Particularly, it was also fascinating to plan and coordinate (over Zoom, Whatsapp!) the introduction of new line of rainforest products made by the Tikuna Tribes, that include housewares, and home décor made from sustainable materials.
By adding this new product line, Blossom Inspirations now has artisan crafts spanning all of the Peru – the dessert and coastal regions, the Amazon Rainforest, and all the way up into the Andes Mountains. We, Peruvians, are blessed with such a diverse mix of cultures and habitats which you can see in our different Fair Trade products. Adding the Tikuna Tribes gives them a bit of a platform, as they come from a region that has been isolated for decades.
Though I missed my girls (and husband), the trip flew by and it was time to pack up and head home. As an immigrant, there’s always a strange feeling, like I’m betraying my country as I head back to ‘home’ to where my family is. I was homesick and anxious for the country, knowing that the pandemic would rage on and the political infighting was just starting. Peru has so much potential, but always on the brink of sliding backward economically and politically. I know we have lived through tough times, but we are all longing for some stability.
The good things that came from my trip is that we have discovered new needs in our artisans, their families and their communities and but also we met more great people in our lives, people who want to better their situation, escape poverty, people who wants a more equal world, people who are willing to participate in this initiative with more donations, generosity, and always looking after the wellbeing of others.If you are reading this blog and you want to collaborate with us, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org We are expanding our network to help more at risk communities in these uncertain times in Peru and Latin America.