Maritza Castro distinctly remembers the 90-minute walk that she and her team of volunteers traveled to the highest hill of the Lambayeque region of Peru in order to deliver medicine, food and school supplies.
That was not the only memory, however. When Castro returned to Georgia, she brought with her a handful of medical evaluations from the local doctors who had attended to the children in that rural area. One said: “Age: 6 years; Weight: 30 pounds.” Every exam record pointed out the same startling concern: many of the children suffer from being underweight.
That visit, which took place in early September, is one of many that Castro makes to Peru annually. She and her dedicated team travel to Peru approximately four times a year through her organization Lazos de Ayuda.
The organization has been helping children in need in Peru since 2008.
Little by little, Castro’s desire to help others, even with her own belongings, eventually turned into a bigger dream.
“I was 27 years old when I came to Georgia. Like everyone else, my beginnings here were difficult. I started my company, and there were wonderful people who helped me,” said Castro, president of Lazos de Ayuda.
“When I returned to my country and saw the need that was there, I told myself it was time to share more. That it was time to create an organization where larger businesses could collaborate too,” she explained.
Today, the entity works to attend to the educational, health and spiritual needs of the Peruvian community in Lambayeque. This includes delivering school supplies to children and providing educational presentations, sewing and dressmaking workshops, hairstyling classes and medical visits in the most remote locations of that region.
The effort requires not only the support of the volunteers, who help through galas, events and donations, but also the doctors and other health specialists within Peru.
“Being a part of Lazos de Ayuda has left a deep mark on my heart that guides me to help those in need,” explained Fiorella I. Álamo, a psychologist and volunteer based in Peru.
Volunteer Diana Janeth Casusol, a young medical student at the Universidad Nacional Pedro Ruiz Gallo in Peru, feels the same satisfaction in her work.
“Thanks to Lazos de Ayuda, we are able to convey a message of comradeship, solidarity, mutual help, understanding, generosity, teamwork and, above all, we are able to give from the much or the little that we have to our friends and brothers. Our spirit is enriched with virtue when we give even just our time and talk to those children in the most distant of areas, that are in the most financial need, but through their enthusiasm and values, they also fill us with their sweet and innocent energy.”