Alejandro (18) shows tourist around in the after school care of Niños Unidos Peruanos Foundation in Cusco, where he as well enjoyed healthy meals and loving attention as a child. If you during your travels with Vamos Expeditions stay in a Niños hotel or eat in the restaurant, you contribute to this project where kids learn a lot.
Originally from the village of Pitumarca, Alejandro was 8 years old when he became part of Niños Unidos Peruanos Foundation. He arrived in Cusco with his mother and sister after fleeing a violent family environment.
‘The parents of these kids are not really poor, they just can’t afford clothing or books. And visiting a doctor or dentist is too expensive.’ Alejandro Acondori (18) shows curious tourists around in the after school care of Niños Unidos Peruanos Foundation in Cusco. Around six hundred underprivileged kids between 6 and 19 years play and eat here on a daily basis, because at home they don’t receive the attention they need.’
So did Alejandro. As a kid, he was a home alone. After school, he arrived in an empty house. His mom was always working and he doesn’t know his father. Alejandro was bored and he felt lonely. On the age of fourteen he joined the Niños-project, an initiative of the Dutch Jolanda van den Berg, who wants a better future for underprivileged children. The project consists of various hotels, restaurants and gift shops with local arts and crafts products. The generated income is used to realize the after school care and meals.
Alejandro liked the after school care a lot. It meant two healthy meals a day, caring attention of the staff and making new friends. But it was not only fun, he also learned a lot: to come in time, to treat others in a respectful way and to brush his teeth. Every kid gets his own toothbrush. Pictures on the wall show how to wash your hands with soap, because a lot of children are not used to take care of their personal hygiene.
To the cinema
In the library Alejandro discovered the fun of reading a book. Reading is not something his mother uses to do at home, but he likes it to sit in a quiet corner with a novel. While making his homework, he could ask anything he wanted. He worked hard on his targets and his English. Afterwards, it was time for playing basket or foot in the gym. ‘Every day you can play sports here. And there are hot showers, which we don’t have at home.’ At the door of the cinema his smile becomes bigger. ‘If you behave well during a week, as a reward you can watch a movie in the small cinema.’
Studying to be a guide
Because of his good English, Alejandro was offered a job. He is proud to work as a receptionist in the Meloc hotel in the historical center of Cusco. But the studies of the ambitious teenager are not finished yet. ‘I want to be a city guide. I would love to show hotel guests around my city, Cusco.’
Around half of the children in Cusco are malnourished. Most travellers don’t see the hardship that exists as the majority of attractions are inside the small Old City. Nevertheless it’s a shocking figure when you consider the capital generated by the thousands of tourists who visit this World Heritage Site each month.
By choosing to stay at this hotel or eat at the restaurant during your time in Cusco, you have to the chance to contribute to this amazing project and help underprivileged children in Cusco to get a better future.
You can find out more about Los Niños Hotels and Foundations through their website at www.ninoshotel.com. They also accept reservations and donations all year round through their website.