ShoreTel Gives Back in Peru
In early October, I was honored to be part of an incredible journey to the other side of the equator to Cusco, Peru with more than eighty of my ShoreTel friends, including top sales producers, company leaders and their companions for the 2015 ShoreTel President’s Club trip.
A bustling city in the Peruvian Andes Mountains, Cusco was once the capital of the Inca Empire and is now known for its archaeological remains, Spanish colonial architecture and the gateway to the Sacred Valley and Inca Trail that lead to the mountain citadel of Machu Picchu - one of the Wonders of the World. At an elevation of 11,152 feet, simply walking up a flight of stairs in Cusco is literally a “breathtaking” experience. Despite the thriving tourism industry, Cusco is in a region overwhelmed by severe poverty and many of its people live in very harsh conditions. Despite their circumstances, they are some of the friendliest people I’ve ever met.
After a day of getting acclimatized to the high elevation by drinking lots of coca tea – a delightful local concoction that combats altitude sickness – and hitting the canned O2 shots, the group took a scenic day trip via train to Machu Picchu where we climbed to the pinnacle with our guides. It was quite a moving (and exhausting) experience ascending the unearthed ruins and reaching the summit to see one of the most amazing views on earth. In addition to learning about the sacred traditions and monuments of the Incas, we were introduced to Peruvian mosquitos – relentlessly pesky little critters the size of gnats, but with a sting as potent as a fire ant or wasp. But altitude sickness and a few mosquito bites couldn’t have kept any of us away from the amazing volunteer opportunity the following day.
Our company leaders have a firmly held goal that President’s Club attendees volunteer in the local community and that our work make a lasting impact on people in need. As you can imagine with the extreme level of poverty, there were many deserving projects in Cusco.
“Our local contact found this school while wandering around the villages looking for something that met all of our requirements,” said Bernadette Purcell, Director of Programs for Cain Meetings and Incentives.
So on our third day in Peru, we traveled by bus to the Centro Educativo 50012, a primary school in the small village of Chocco Town. The school was in desperate need of repairs after a fire and due to flooding from a faulty roof. After receiving a heart-warming welcome from a children’s marching band dressed in beautifully colored local costumes, our excited team of ShoreTel workers got busy, separating into several work groups to:
- Build a retaining wall and install and paint the playground equipment
- Tile the a roof on the cafeteria
- Clean and paint rooms damaged by soot and fire
- Transform several rooms from disorganized chaos with boxes piled to the ceiling into a functional library and multi-purpose classrooms.
It was backbreaking, blister-inducing work in extreme heat, but also some of the most rewarding work many of us had ever done. There was not a single complaint from anyone during the four hours we worked to make that little school a better place, and in fact, many of my ShoreTel comrades wanted to forgo their afternoon leisure activities and continue our work at the school.
We all fell in love with the townspeople, the teachers and especially the beautiful children of Chocco Town. So many of us were profoundly touched by how grateful the villagers were for our help. So in addition to the initial corporate donation from ShoreTel to cover major repairs and our gifts of time and talent, several team members stepped up with cash donations of their own, which will fund:
- A computer lab, including computers, projector and screen
- Traditional dance costumes for ALL the school children
- A brand new set of musical instruments for the marching band
- New cleaning tools and supplies
It’s been said that we make a living by what we get, and a life by what we give. This is an experience my ShoreTel friends and I will not soon forget, and we are so privileged to have left a lasting legacy for the children of Chocco Town, Cusco, Peru.