• PM We Care

Changing the World One Smile at A Time: PM-International Visits 112 Sponsored Children in Peru

Published: 11/02/2020

In March, PM-International’s Charity Ambassador Vicki Sorg and her husband Rolf (Founder and CEO) traveled to Peru to visit 112 sponsored children with World Vision and to bestow them with their annual birthday presents[1]. They live in three different Area Programs (AP), located in the Huancavelica Region in the Andes (about 580km south of Lima). The rural area belongs to the poorest and most fragile regions of the country. Health, poverty, and education are the biggest developmental challenges. The families in the Andean highlands mainly live from what they grow on their own. Due to poor soil and harsh weather conditions, there’s seldom enough. Together with World Vision, PM-International commits to supporting a better nutrition, additional income opportunities, education, and health, in order to improve the standard of living.

Delayed Arrival in the Highlands of Peru

The journey was off to a bumpy start. Unfortunately, unforeseen complications left Vicki and Rolf stuck at the airport in Lima for 8 hours. They were so close and yet so far, relying on one last flight to take them to their final destination. To their great disappointment, they were not able to make it to the first stop – Paucará – where sponsored children anxiously waited to greet them in traditional dresses of the Chopcca culture and to the sound of the typical Andean music “Pituteros.” But PM wouldn’t be PM, if we didn’t know how to find the best possible solution with the interests of the children at heart. Wolfgang, who’s working with PM-International for 20 years already and always accompanies Vicki on her trips as a cameraman, was lucky enough to avoid getting stuck at the airport. He filled in for Vicki and Rolf presenting the birthday gifts to the children, which included a pencil case filled with useful school material. Warm sleeping bags withstanding temperatures below 0° were also part of it to help protect the kids from the harsh and cold winter in the mountains.

Despite their great disappointment of not being able to attend themselves, Vicki and Rolf were relieved to know that all the children’s efforts in preparing for the visit – rehearsing dances and speeches – have not been in vain. After all, the day was dedicated to the children. And in the end, someone was there to spend a memorable day together with them.

After an 8-hour flight delay and another 6-hour drive through the Andes, Vicki and Rolf were finally back on track and excited to meet the rest of the sponsored children in person the next day.

Thin Air But High-Flying Emotions

The first stop on day 2 was Yauli. Up at 4,450m altitude, it’s safe to say that the air was pretty thin, but the emotions were flying as high as ever. Even though Vicki was experiencing mountain sickness, feeling tired and out of breath, it didn’t stop her from spending quality time with the children. Fun games helped to break the ice to turn the initial shyness into an engaging, colorful birthday party: “We played games, heard moving stories of how these children and their families live their lives and just laughed together. It reminded us once again that it doesn’t matter where you come from, what language you speak or your skin color…if we want, we can change the world one smile at a time,” says Vicki. Meeting the children of Yauli has shown Vicki how far the region has come:

“I am impressed to see how World Vision has already been able to improve the living conditions – not only for our sponsored children, but for the region as a whole. Among others, our contribution helped to refurbish schools, provide teaching materials, and inform parents about how important education is for the future of their children. Because children are the future.”

Immediate Help When It’s Needed the Most

One little girl particularly touched Vicki. During a home visit, Vicki and Rolf met little 4 years old Yasmin. She grows up and lives in the most modest circumstances. Her dad abandoned the family before she was even born, leaving her mother on her own. Fortunately, the mother was able to rely on the support of other family members and earn money by selling meat skewers. When Yasmin was 1 year old, her mother fell ill and was forced to spend extensive time in the hospital, stripping the family of the most important source of income. Immediate help was crucial. World Vision, among others with the help of PM, stepped in immediately and supported the family with financial contributions to help them navigate through the critical time. Today, Yasmin’s mother is back on her feet again and can provide for her daughter. When Vicki and Rolf visited the family, they were deeply touched by the incredible hospitality and deep gratitude the family expressed towards them, despite all their hardships. The lively girl took their hearts by storm, proudly sharing insights into her daily life and personal victories.

Vicki and Rolf’s trip to Peru was nothing short of a real adventure thanks to a couple of expected as well as unexpected incidents. But above all, it was an incredible and unforgettable experience. Unlike Vicki, who has traveled to places like Mongolia, Indonesia, India, Ghana and Cambodia in the past to visit sponsored children, this was the first time Rolf joined his wife:

“When you do things like that – traveling around the world to visit children – it’s a rollercoaster of emotions. For me personally, this journey was a very humbling experience, as it gave me an impression of the extreme conditions our sponsored children face in their daily lives. Seeing the smiles on their faces reminded me once more of the important job my wife Vicki is doing. With sponsor visits like this one, we want to pave the way towards a better life for these children and future generations, spread cheer, and give them a birthday present to remember this day by.”

For more than 15 years, PM-International and World Vision have been supporting children, their families, and communities in more than 50 long-term development projects all around the world, including Ghana, Cambodia, and India. The donations are realized thanks to the generous support of customers and distribution partners. Every product sold by PM-International gives children one “Hour of Life” and better opportunities for their future. As the company is growing, the number of sponsored children grows too. PM-International’s vision is to sponsor at least 10,000 children and engage in additional projects around the world and look forward to a continued cooperation with World Vision. Juliana Goessmann, Manager Corporate Engagement at World Vision Deutschland e.V. says,

“We are very proud of this long-standing partnership, because PM-International shares our core value: At World Vision, we are determined to empower people to support themselves. We always focus on the children, as they will be the ones continuing our work once we withdraw from the projects one day.”

[1] The “Share Your Love” campaign in February, enabled PM-International to get each of our 1,800 sponsored children with World Vision a birthday present for this year. If you bought one of our exclusive Give an Hour of Life shirts or hoodies, you helped to put smiles on our sponsored children’s faces. Thank you!