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- Hearts Café
In 2002, at the age of 71, Sonia Newhouse took the brave decision to leave her life and home in England and move to Peru. She began her adventure by dedicating two years in Cusco as a volunteer, where she began to live and work closely with the people of the Sacred Valley.
During this time, the community of Huaran requested Sonia’s help to convert their classic hacienda (farm) into a hospedaje (lodge) in an attempt to bring money into the community and help support those less fortunate. Drawn by a desire to help others, Sonia embarked on this three-year project. She developed relationships with the locals in the highlands and learned of the plight of the children and women suffering from malnutrition, health issues and domestic violence.
Sonia quickly learned that one of the key ways to support these communities, was to launch a campaign to raise awareness of the humanitarian issues in an attempt to raise the much-needed funds to help these communities.
With no previous experience in setting up or running a café or restaurant, but with a renowned drive and tenacity, she turned all her attention to setting up a private enterprise business, a café, in Ollantaytambo in the Sacred Valley.
And so Hearts Café was born.
The café highlighted the plight of the local communities, raising awareness amongst visiting tourists, and provided work and support for local women in need.
With the help and publicity provided by Hearts Café, Living Heart NGO was formed in 2007. A registered charity both in Peru and the UK, Living Heart dedicated itself from its inception to essential nutrition, health and education projects in several highland communities above the Sacred Valley.
As Living Heart’s work within the communities expanded, the word spread of their great reputation and dedication to these communities who worked with them collaboratively to achieve great results. Many other communities soon approached Living Heart with requests to receive help and Living Heart found itself with a mammoth task at hand.
To determine which communities to help, Living Heart always carry out an evaluation prior to making an agreement with a community to offer support. This evaluation includes signs of malnutrition in the children, a commitment to work with Living Heart by the community and a local school to provide a consistent base. In this manner they can ensure their support is going where it is crucially needed, especially to disadvantaged and chronically malnourished children.
Since 2007 Living Heart has helped to brighten the futures of over 2000 disadvantaged children, and to this day continues to seek to develop new community projects to support the remote, highland Andean families most in need.