Christmas in Cusco 365

by Jim Dittmann
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Christmas for Kids in Cusco 365 Book Drive Thank You from Unacha!

By:  Julie Hogan

Nestled in the outskirts of Cusco, Peru is a non-profit school and shelter called Uñacha. The shelter serves and cares for children in the district of Quiquijana, an area often referred to as the “peasant communities.”  The children from this area live in extreme poverty.  The illiteracy rate among this community is 33.8%.  The levels of chronic malnutrition have been recorded at 50.5% in children from birth to the age of five.  Health and wellbeing is a key condition for a child’s development and chronic malnutrition often results in death.

The community of Quiquijana donated the land for the shelter that began with the help of the Kinderhelfe-Cusco Association, the Inti Association of Luxemburg Kidermissions and an organization called Populorum Progresio.  Local nuns and priests run the shelter.  They have the spirit and passion to serve the poor and needy, the children, who in some cases are abandoned by society and the government.  Uñacha currently serves 42 girls and 73 boys ages four to fifteen.  The free development of their personality through care, protection, and fulfillment of fundamental rights is encouraged because of the high risk of vulnerability in their social and family environments.  The mission of the school/shelter is to provide these children with education and trade skills that include working with computers, baking, and creating textiles so they may find jobs to support themselves and their families.  The hope is to maintain and improve jobs in the rural communities because the increased level of migration to urban areas for jobs is devastating the area.  The goal of the school/shelter is to provide 200 children with viable working skills by 2020.  Additional goals are to assist with access to healthcare and their development on physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual levels.

The children have to walk an average of four to eight hours to attend school so they are housed at the shelter from Sunday through Friday afternoon.  There is a genuine need for additional resources at the shelter and items of comfort for the children because of this extraordinary situation.  They are away from their families the majority of the week; as you can imagine, this is quite a challenge beyond the responsibilities of their schoolwork.

Chris Condori Huanca and Theresa Nehring, the owners of Top Peru Trips, a tour company in Cusco, Peru, along with myself, Julie Hogan of Reconnect Spiritual Sanctuary in Beaver Dam, created a program called Christmas for Kids in Cusco 365.  Our mission is to provide the children with necessities such as coats, hats, shoes, socks, and other clothing that will help to keep them warm and healthy as they make the long journey each week to be able to attend school.  We also recently coordinated a book drive on behalf of the school to promote literacy.  Our team delivered books and other educational materials in Spanish and English in late October in hopes to jump-start their school year; a video link of our visit can be viewed on  In December, each child will be given a small toy or gift so that they may know the spirit of Christmas through your loving and generous donation.  Together we can embrace and help to empower the children so they can build the promise of a future for themselves.  

If you are moved to make a loving donation you can do so through PayPal at or by contacting me, Julie Hogan of Reconnect Spiritual Sanctuary, at or calling 920-342-8955.  Please note that most of the items will be purchased in Peru to support the local merchants and economy.  The shipment of items may also be possible; please call to discuss.  Your donation gives back on many levels, and we thank you from the depths of our hearts in Munay, unconditional and unbound love. 

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