Some things, like water, are too good not to be shared.

That’s what Jenna Canning, a fourth-year Concurrent Education student, and Natasha Farrugia, a third-year Contemporary Studies student with the Children’s Education and Development option, learned when they travelled to Peru with Solidarity in Action last summer. Along with students from the Waterloo campus and another from Brantford, they volunteered in a shanty neighbourhood in Lima. They dispensed oral hygiene products and ran clinics, played with children, helped at a maternity ward and, perhaps most importantly and surprisingly, built stairs.

In this neighbourhood, individuals construct homes from whatever material is available. There is no running water, and the water available may closely resemble coffee. A truck delivers water supplies to the top of a clay hill that becomes slippery when wet. There is no schedule for delivery. For the students, climbing this hill became a personal challenge. For the Peruvians, who often climb the hill with children on their backs, it is a way of life.

As is generosity. The little water they did have, they gave to their visitors to drink. And on the students’ last day, the community woke up early and completed that day’s stairs so they could have a simple, joyous celebration.

Canning summarized their view on material things: “If you have it, share it.”

So, she and Farrugia are sharing their experiences with a new group of students. This August, 32 students from Laurier will travel to Lima. Twenty-one of these students are from the Brantford campus. Canning is the trip’s coordinator. While the trip will include similar volunteer activities, there may be a stronger emphasis on education opportunities. Students will work in a shanty community and stay nearby (last year, they slept in a retreat centre for safety reasons). The trip also includes chances for students to experience Peruvian culture and a trip to Machu Picchu. While Canning and Farrugia know what to expect, they realize each trip is different. Farrugia So, she and Farrugia are sharing their experiences with a new group of students. This August, 32 students from Laurier will travel to Lima. Twenty-one of these students are from the Brantford campus. Canning is the trip’s coordinator. While the trip will include similar volunteer activities, there may be a stronger emphasis on education opportunities. Students will work in a shanty community and stay nearby (last year, they slept in a retreat centre for safety reasons). The trip also includes chances for students to experience Peruvian culture and a trip to Machu Picchu. While Canning and Farrugia know what to expect, they realize each trip is different. Farrugia said she looks forward to facilitating the excitement of this year’s participants.

It’s already growing. Third-year journalism student Calyn Pettit, is excited for how the trip will encourage students to think beyond campus and have “a voice in the world outside of Brantford.” Pettit has heard stories about last year’s trip, and is excited to see joyful children’s faces when they receive toothbrushes and toothpaste.

Like Pettit, Alicia Sayers heard about the trip through the Laurier student news, and quickly applied to go. Sayers is excited to learn about Peruvian culture and working in the community Like Pettit, Alicia Sayers heard about the trip through the Laurier student news, and quickly applied to go. Sayers is excited to learn about Peruvian culture and working in the community there. She believes the trip will impact her personal “emotional and spiritual growth.”

If Canning and Farrugia’s stories are any indication, it will. The trip made them appreciate what they do have. Farrugia admitted she often wishes for a “door” to pass water through to people in Peru.

This August, she won’t have to wish.

A group of Canadian university students created Solidarity in Action in 2006. The organization promotes solidarity by offering trips to various locations worldwide. The trip to Peru runs from July 29-August 11 and is an approved partnership between Laurier International and Solidarity in Action. The cost for the trip is approximately $2800 per person. Fundraising efforts are in development.

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