My trip to Peru: An experience that I will never forget

By Maggie Byrne

In the summer of 2014, I traveled to the mountains of Peru.  It was an amazing experience that I will never forget.  I traveled with the Richmond Global Health Alliance or RGHA.   It was really fun even though I spoke absolutely no Spanish whatsoever.  We traveled to the small town of Pampas Grande and did many projects including, building greenhouses, providing free medical clinics, spending time with the local children, and doing crafts in their library.  It was really fun to experience a whole different culture, have fun with the kids, see the beautiful landscape and just generally help the town of Pampas Grande and the surrounding villages.

            The culture of Peru is very different from what I am used to in America.  Everyone that I met in Peru was very nice.  Everyone greeted me with a hug even if I had just met them.  This type of greeting was very different from the usual handshake that I am used to in America.  They were also very welcoming and invited us into their homes with open arms.  They always made us something to eat and made sure that we were never hungry.  They were extremely nice to us and that is something that I will never forget.

One of Maggie's favorite photos from her morning hike

            The children were really sweet and it was fun to hang out with them.  I went to the school and did a couple of projects with them, which were amazing.  They were eager to learn the English lessons that I taught using flashcards I had brought with me.  The children taught us how to play some of their games, which were a blast.  One memory that I will never forget happened at their playground.  There were two or three kids on the monkey bars and I started tickling them until they fell off.  I had no idea what I was getting into.  The kids loved it and got back on so I would tickle them again.  Kids were popping out of nowhere to join the game!  It was crazy!  They reminded me of my dog Daisy and her endless energy, because they never got tired and I could not wear them out.  When I tried to stop and go play tag with some other kids, the ones on the monkey bars kept calling my name, Señorita Maggie, Señorita Maggie.  Their was no escaping, so I just kept tickling.  It was really fun and I think I connected with the kids. 

            One day we woke up early and went on a hike.  Going on a hike at 12,000 feet was not the easiest thing to do, but it was really fun.  We hiked on a path for a little while before we reached the top.  The view was amazing!  The mountains stretched for miles and the morning fog covered them like a blanket.  As I looked down, the clouds and sky looked like the ocean.  It was beautiful!

            We did a bunch of projects in Pampas and the surrounding villages.  We built a greenhouse which involved everyone pitching in.  We also visited a greenhouse that RGHA had built in the past, and saw all of the plants that were being grown for the community. It was incredible to see what a big difference RGHA had already made.  Every experience, from the landscape, to the culture, to interacting with the children, was an something that I will never forget.  I hope that I can come back one day and see once again see the impact our small group has had on the lives of the people.

Maggie is the daughter of RGHA co-founder, board member, and legal team director Sean Byrne. She traveled to Peru for the first time this summer.