Crusaders Learn About the Gift of Presence in Peru

Saint Pope John Paul II once said: “Dear young people, let yourselves be taken over by the light of Christ, and spread that light wherever you are.” Althoff Catholic High School’s annual senior service project is a three-week immersion experience that gives students the opportunity to put their faith in action through service to others. More often than not, the experience is transformative and life-changing for our Crusaders.

Megan Hinds, Samantha Land and Laney Martz chose to serve in Lima, Peru. Samantha’s mother grew up in Peru and presented the girls with the option of doing their service project there. “I thought it was a great idea and jumped at the opportunity,” said Laney. “It seemed like a great way to do something out of my comfort zone and to experience a culture different from my own.”

Throughout their days in Lima, the girls had the opportunity to serve at a variety of places including a pediatric cancer hospital, a school for special needs children, an animal shelter and a church. “Some of the kids we met were at the hospital by themselves. Their parents were either at work or never there at all,” said Megan. “This made me sad because the children were not only sick but lonely. I am glad we got to keep them company.”

The girls also had the opportunity to learn about the power individuals have to make a difference in the lives of others. “We met a family that turned their own home into a dog shelter,” said Laney. “Seeing how one family can be so generous to all the stray animals in Lima was awesome.”

Megan’s favorite experience was visiting a boy’s orphanage. Having the opportunity to interact with the boys through games, songs and more was very meaningful. The boys even asked our Althoff Catholic students to teach them a little English.

Serving in Lima was a life-changing experience for all three girls. “I learned that I should be a more grateful person,” said Samantha. “We tend to let our problems be a wall in our lives. The people we met did not allow their problems to stop them from being happy; they showed us that a positive attitude is key to a better life.” Megan would like to continue volunteering in her community either at food pantries or clinics for people who do not have much. One of Laney’s biggest take-a-ways from the experience was not to take things like easy access to clean water, being able to go to school every day and even having a change of clothes for granted.

“One thing I realized in Peru was that we do not hug enough in the United States,” said Laney. “The people we met would greet us with a hug and a kiss on the cheek. It was a simple thing, but people were always kind and went out of their way to introduce themselves.”

In our fast-paced, technology driven world, the power of truly being present to those around us is often lost. Saint Teresa of Calcutta said: “Go out into the world today and love the people you meet. Let your presence light new light in the hearts of people.” We are confident that Megan, Laney and Samantha learned the value of giving and receiving the simple, yet powerful gift of being truly present with others while in Lima.

In the months leading up to their trip, the girls raised funds through GoFundMe. They also organized a supply drive for items such as gently used soccer cleats and baby clothes. Upon arriving in Peru, the girls used the funds they raised to purchase soap, snacks, coloring books, toys and puzzles for distribution at the school and hospital. The girls are thankful to all who assisted them in their efforts including the grade school students at Our Lady Queen of Peace and St. Joseph’s schools.

Join us for a personal tour of Althoff Catholic to learn more about the ways in which we integrate faith and service to others into our college preparatory curriculum. Contact our Office of Admissions at 618.235.1100 ext. 116 or admissions@althoffcatholic.org.

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