Kaimuki Vol­un­teer Aids Peru Re­cov­ery

MidWeek Islander (East Oahu) - - FRONT PAGE - By RASA FOURNIER

What did Kaimuki’s Shan­non Ng do when faced with the ques­tion that con­fronts all col­lege grads: What next? She headed to Peru to build houses for earth­quake vic­tims, of course.

“I was al­most a year out of col­lege and I still was not ready to com­mit to a long term, full-time job,” ex­plained the 23year-old. “Dur­ing that year out of col­lege I dis­cov­ered a real pas­sion for vol­un­teer­ing abroad.”

Just out of UH Manoa with a so­ci­ol­ogy de­gree, Ng got the idea to do com­mu­nity vol­un­teer work and found the per­fect fit: Pisco Sin Fron­teras, the most af­ford­able op­por­tu­nity for vol­un­teer work in South Amer­ica, and flu­ent Span­ish was not re­quired. Also, the group needed con­struc­tion and man­ual la­bor — just what Ng was look­ing for.

Pisco Sin Fron­teras was formed af­ter a 7.9 mag­ni­tude earth­quake dec­i­mated Pisco, a town on the west coast of Peru, just south of Lima. Eighty per­cent of the town was lev­eled, leav­ing nearly 600 dead and 40,000 fam­i­lies home­less. A year af­ter the 2007 earth­quake, res­i­dents were still in makeshift homes with­out elec­tric­ity or run­ning wa­ter. En­ter PSF. Then last April Ng made her first trip, help­ing out for one month. It was so

ad­dic­tive, she re­turned in July and stayed for four months. She’s home now, work­ing as an ad­min­is­tra­tive sup­port spe­cial­ist at UH in or­der to save up enough money to go back to Pisco in March, but this time for six months.

“The long-term vol­un­teers are a big part of the back­bone of PSF,” Ng ex­plained, “and many new vol­un­teers look to the long-ter­m­ers for guid­ance.”

She was among 50 vol­un­teers who built homes, poured ce­ment, t aught English, cared for keiki, cooked meals, re­claimed wood and built ta­bles and desks from it. “I had never con­structed any type of fur­ni­ture,” she ad­mit­ted. “With guid­ance from fel­low vol­un­teers, I learned how to cre­ate a ta­ble from start to fin­ish. I put scraps of wood to­gether with a ham­mer and nails, sanded it down and painted it. The best part was when I went back to PSF for the sec­ond time and got to see the ta­bles in use at the com­mu­nity cen­ter.

“I’ve seen so many vol­un­teers come from var­i­ous back­grounds — ad­ver­tis­ing, teach­ing, bank­ing — and leave PSF as skilled vol­un­teers and lead­ers. To help a fam­ily build a home, to see a project from start to fin­ish, to be able to know that you re­ally are mak­ing a dif­fer­ence, is an in­cred­i­ble feel­ing.

“I never thought I would call some­where out­side of Hawaii ‘home,’ but PSF has truly be­come like a sec­ond home and fam­ily to me.”

Kaimuki res­i­dent Shan­non Ng (cen­ter, with scarf), joins fel­low vol­un­teers to help a lo­cal man dig a trench for new wa­ter pipes he will in­stall to the new home he’s build­ing for his fam­ily in Pisco, Peru. Thou­sands of vil­lagers there are still re­cov­er­ing from a 2007 earth­quake. Photo from Shan­non Ng.

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