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30 filled suitcases were donated to four organizations in need. 18 women rolled up their sleeves and cleaned, sanded, painted, cooked and gardened for two straight days. We didn’t stop moving. But even more happened….

“Confession: I had extremely mixed feelings about whether or not I should go to Peru. On one hand, I felt a strong calling to give back and make a difference at this level. On the other hand, the thought of traveling with 18 women (predominantly strangers) for 10 days through a foreign country filled me with anxiety. Needless to say, it would be a stretch. I mean, a short weekend away with the closest of friends could in and of itself prove challenging. So, I did what any indecisive eight year old would do, I settled it with a coin flip. And, the rest is history – I was going to Peru.

In group settings, I force myself to mentally rally. Unbeknownst to the rest of the world, there’s a whole internal pep squad thing going on upstairs complete with costumes.
This was my state of being upon arriving in Cuzco for the opening night dinner. I quietly observed as everyone politely sized each other up – quirky, witty, rich, reserved, possibly annoying? We struggled through moments of awkwardness before heading off to our assigned rooms.

The next three days we rolled up our sleeves and were in it – painting, sanding, gardening, cooking, loving the kids – giving all of ourselves to each moment. Whatever previous perceptions or labels that may have existed were stripped away. The individual had been replaced by the whole. I found myself truly present for the first time in a long time and not once did I hit the fast forward button wishing I was anywhere other than where I was.

Then I blinked and I was at Machu Picchu. I blinked again and was at the closing dinner. A final blink and I was back at my desk in San Diego, and ready to give more of myself than I ever thought possible.

It’s weird but now 27 days later, I think of these women daily. Their being frequents my thoughts – an inside joke, an accent, a brave reveal – these 18 women are all now apart of me. I’m so grateful I decided to stretch myself for without it I would have missed out on “us” – The Peruvian Sisterhood.”

Written by Kelly Corbet

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