From Rotary Voices, May 11, 2017
By Jack Bechaud, Rotary Club of Lake in the Hills, Illinois, USA
If you would have told me a few years ago that I’d be lugging 15 bags of cement in the high mountains of Cusco, Peru, to help local villagers, I would not have believed you.
It sounds a little cliché, but Rotary has helped me come so far, in so many ways. It’s helped me grow as a person in ways I never thought possible. It’s brought joy back to my life.
Rotarian Jack Bechaud takes time to hug a child
This was my second service trip with the Rotary Club of Lake in the Hills, Illinois, within a short period of time. Traveling so far away from home with many hours in a plane and airports is not necessarily my idea of a good time. Further, having what seems like just come back from an amazing trip to India and new friends there, not to mention the incredible work we did, then turning around and getting on more planes might seem crazy to some of you.
But I can tell you it’s totally worth it! Seeing people who have nothing makes you appreciate everything. Being able to learn from them and learn that your project is going to be duplicated in other pueblos as a success story is beyond belief. Working in very hard conditions at high altitude with our Rotarians friends here at the Rotary Club Julio J. Delgado Cusco and our own members creates a bond like no other.
Travel stress, miles and miles and miles of narrow mountain roads, seeing our Indian Rotarians comment on our work here and our Peruvian Rotarians comment on work we did in India — builds life long relations and bridges. Not walls. (Although we actually are building walls for buildings,) It’s the gift you give to others that gives back to you.
Rotary is not what I thought it was. It’s so much better, and so much more.
One day, I carried 15 bags of concrete on my shoulders, dug a trench three feet deep by three feet wide, wired parts of the building for electricity, drank more water than I ever thought possible, and pumped more blood than my heart even thought possible while breathing. In mountain air at altitudes higher than the alpacas that roam here. My body ached, but my heart was full, and even though it’s beyond my ability to convey what this is like, I hope some of the pictures show a glimpse of what we are doing.
All in all, I have my luggage, clean clothes and health and next to that everything else is a bonus.