July 25, 2005
Interview Preview: Danielle and Josh remortgage
their home to set up their own Non-Profit International Development
Organization in Peru
Last week I saw a brief feature on local TV about a Canadian couple
who had mortgaged their home to create an international development
organization in Peru, starting with shipping a container full of
donated medical supplies to a small town on the Peruvian coast.
I didn't catch the person's name, but I did catch the website: www.paraelmundo.org.
Once on the site I sent an email, and Josh, the co-founder of this
organization, got back to me in an email from Peru to arrange an
interview with his wife, Danielle, who had came up with the idea
for this project.
Josh & Danielle on the Inca Trail
Josh and Danielle remortgaged their home to raise $30,000 to start
a non-profit community development organization in a town called
Mancora, a small fishing town of 15,000 people, located in northern
Peru on the Pacific coast, just south of the Ecuadorian border.
They already started with organizing a shipment of medical supplies
and also want to find a doctor who would be interested in volunteering
his or her time and expertise to the community. Women's health and
men's problems with alcoholism are among the top problems that the
population in Mancora faces. Danielle and Josh also plan to work
with the men and women in this town to address unemployment and
social issues. Later on they also plan to obtain funding for a solar-powered
drinking water system that will supply the town's population with
drinking water, a precious resource in this drought-stricken community.
They have a long-term plan in mind to help this community and make
Danielle and some Peruvian locals
Once one of Peru's most important fishing communities, Mancora
has faced economic hardship in the last 15 years associated with
the collapse of the fish stocks, in part due to over-fishing, especially
by foreign-owned mega-trawlers, as well as a devastating El Niño
in 1989 which caused such extensive mudslides that they reshaped
the coastline and changed coastal sea currents. This has led to
a sharp rise in unemployment and social problems, and has slowed
the pace of development.
On the positive side, Mancora and the surrounding region have more
recently begun to benefit from the rise of tourism, as they are
blessed with a spectacular beach and one of the best surfing spots
in South America. Peru in general has seen an increase in tourists
over the last few decades, with adventurous travelers lured by the
country's amazingly diverse history, geography and culture.
Danielle discovered Mancora when she was doing her one-year placement
as part of her social work degree at Toronto's York University.
She got to know the town and the people and she fell in love with
both of them.
Danielle & her furry friend
Danielle herself is a very interesting individual, a very friendly
26-year old woman, who left home at an early age to hitch-hike across
Canada, with her guitar. Although this wasn't necessarily the safest
travel option, Danielle always felt protected while she was doing
it and she came out of this trip with amazing experiences.
Some time ago Danielle also went to Cuba, with very little money,
and she ended up trading private ESL language classes for room and
board with a local Cuban family. Danielle has a very strong social
conscience and when I met her today I really recognized how much
she wants to make a difference. She said she feels very privileged
to have been this fortunate in life and she would like to make a
contribution to help people in less fortunate places.
Danielle and Josh put their own financial resources on the line
when they started this venture. They are uprooting themselves and
moving to a different continent to help an entire town in need.
Their best friends are joining them on this venture and they will
be reporting regularly from their experiences in Peru. They are
now working with a grant writer and legal experts to obtain the
funding to turn this spontaneous idea into a long-term development
Stay tuned for this interview, and see how one Toronto couple turned
their life upside down to make a difference.
Here is the completed interview
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