Posted by Erik Jorgensen
Hans Brandes from Falmouth was our speaker. A former BIW engineer in retirement he has been devoted to a project in South America: a home called Corazon de Esperanza in Trujillo, Peru. It is a program for orphans who are aging out of the Peru orphanage system. 
These kids have been abused, trafficked, homeless, and their experiences have been hard. When you turn 18 in Peru, you leave the orphanage system and are very likely to fall into trouble. Hans’ family has gained considerable perspective from travels to Latin America, and these trips led to involvement with the organization – his brother knew the founder, and the rest is history. He started as a volunteer, and after 9 trips to Peru, now serves as treasurer. The organization is headquartered in Colorado, but the services all occur in Trujillo, where 18 girls are currently in residence. They also help boys, but they don’t mix them.
Trujillo is a city of 1.3 million in Northern Peru, south of the equator, at high altitude, where breathing can be a challenge: “It’s like sucking air through a straw,” said Hans. The organization offers lots of opportunity for service – they can accommodate groups (such as visiting Rotarians) and can always use volunteers. They can also use direct contributions – money comes from individual donors, youth sponsors, grants, and churches. 
He then introduced Heydi Yajaira Sánchez Bracamonte (in photo at right), a resident of the home, who has been in Maine to speak about her own experience as a resident. Hans provided running translation as Heydi described coming from a badly broken family and entering the orphanage system in 2008. She aged out of the system at the age of 18, and now Corazon de Esperanza is providing safety, support, predictability and some critical backing, allowing her to study for teacher certification at a local university.  
This, according to Hans, is exactly how the program breaks the cycle of poverty that afflicts so many of the children in the Peruvian system.  “You gotta be there,” he said. For anyone interested in learning more about the organization or to make a contribution, go to
(Photo L-R: Hans Brandes, Heydi Yajaira Sánchez Bracamonte, and President Amy Chipman.)