Inspiring At-Risk Children in Peru to Dream Beyond Their Dreams

Fulfilling a life-changing promise made after witnessing the devastating 2010 earthquake in Haiti, Andrea Cruz returned to Peru and founded One for Others, a nonprofit that seeks to give children in conditions of extreme poverty the ability to dream and realize a better future.   

Shortly after Haiti’s devastating earthquake of 2010, Andrea Cruz, originally from Peru but studying for her bachelor’s in Theology in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, traveled to the Caribbean island to volunteer in the restoration efforts. Helping to deliver food, water, and medicines to local orphanages filled Andrea with a deep sense of purpose. “After Haiti, I knew I had found my life’s mission,” said Andrea. “When I returned to Peru, I promised to dedicate my life to helping children in need, but I didn’t know where to start nor had the tools to do so.” She enrolled in UPC and completed a master’s in Project Management and Administration, gaining valuable insights on the realities and challenges of setting up a successful nonprofit venture. And in 2012, she founded One for Others.

Today, amassing a network of over 300 volunteers, One for Others benefits thousands of children and families from low-income areas in the outskirts of Lima through various social programs and workshops, charitable campaigns, and an orphanage for young girls called “Hope House Perú”. Their mission is to remind children that their lives have value and that a bright future is possible. But whether it is delivering backpacks filled with school supplies, toys, or food, the donations made by One for Others are only meant as the gateway to gain the children’s trust. “Our real goal is to inspire children to have a sense of self-worth, and we do so by imparting values and principles such as honesty, empathy and care for others,” explains Andrea.

The importance of changing a child’s mindset was highlighted in a recent study that One for Others conducted in Peru with children between 6 and 10 years old, asking the question: What do you want to be when you grow up? In children of middle-class families, typical responses included: I want to be an architect/doctor/astronaut/actor/singer. Sadly, when faced with the same question, the children living in conditions of extreme poverty would recoil in shame, unable to respond or unable to visualize a hopeful tomorrow. Or if they responded, they would simply say: I want to be a pick-pocketer, like my brother/father/uncle. This is where One for Others seeks to make a difference.

One for Others firmly believes that children are the future. “If we change the mindset of one child with love, care and attention, and we give them the tools and support to grow in knowledge and health, we are showing them that dreams do come true, and they will become the leaders that will change our tomorrow.”

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