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Gaian Path Reconnects with the Burning Community in Peru

After experiencing the 8.8 Chilean Earthquake from the other side of the Andes, we felt called to be of service; however, we learned that the road across the border was closed, and as the days passed that volunteers were being turned away.  Realizing that we may just be in the way for Phase I disaster relief, we decided to head to Pisco, Peru to join forces with Pisco Sin Fronteras—a reconstruction project in Peru passed on by Burners Without Borders in response to the 8.0 Earthquake that destroyed 80% of homes in Pisco and claimed over 600 lives in August 2007.

Rewind to September 2009 in Black Rock City, where our organization and partnership formed.  We were both new to BRC traveling with our circus community from Austin, Texas, eager to spread our creativity and joy at festivals out west.  Jefe was a primetime TV producer/cameraman tired of squandering his talents for the weapons of mass distraction.  Kelly had just completed degrees in Political Science, Environmental Studies, and International Relations but was being drawn to the performance life as a professional fire-hooper and partner acrobat.  We fell in love at the Mecca of generosity and creativity, and quickly realized that the promptings of our hearts were revealing the same path.  Jefe quit the television industry and Kelly abandoned her performance persona.  We formed Gaian Path to fuse our extensive backgrounds in video production and humanitarian work.  Now traveling across South America volunteering for NPOs and producing videos for them, we are excited to announce our next collaboration with Burners Without Borders/Pisco Sin Fronteras.

In the first week we have been inspired by the energetic efforts of this dynamic organization, and happy to see that the Burners Without Borders culture is still very present.  We are enjoying the company of 109 humanitarians from 15 different countries, including locals who are rebuilding their community.  New volunteers are taking positions of leadership and spearheading new projects, engaging in creative fundraisers for the Miracle Fund (Bob auctioned off his fluffy back and chest hair by letting us rip waxing strips off his body to the highest bidder—the nipple region topped the bidding at 20$ a piece), and participating in construction projects from the foundation up, side-by-side with the Peruvian families we are helping.

The BioDiesel Project is one of the real gems of the synergetic evolution to take the reconstruction resources to the next level.  Working with Jimmy and Lynn (original Burners Without Borders Peru), we collected used vegetable oil from restaurants/hotels around town.  The process of transforming it into a viable product with the BWB BioDiesel Reactor (The Mutaytor) promises to be a sustainable model that will generate funds for families that still don’t have the money for construction materials, or possibly empowering the community by micro-financing small local business ideas.  The project is gaining momentum and it is so encouraging to witness the birth of a replicable model that could revolutionize the way grassroots relief efforts may be funded.

We are still spreading our circus love!  Last night the PSF volunteers participated in Hector’s 7th birthday party.  Hector’s mother, Vitalina, has continued to run the Ludoteca free daycare project providing a safe-space for some of the most underserved children of La Alameda.  We were excited to dust off our travel costumes and share our performance.  Jefe put on a magic show and juggling routine, Kelly spiced up the night with a hula-hoop performance, and we showed off our partner acrobatics skills as the big finale.  We were touched to learn that Hector wished for a clown at his party, but his mother told him they couldn’t afford it.  Luckily, we met Vitalina while volunteering at her child center that morning, and offered to clown around that evening as our pleasure.  We lead dancing games in a circle and offered face-painting.  It was a heart-warming success, and we plan to perform another show tomorrow for the grand opening of a childcare project in the shanty-town of El Molino.

This experience is proving to be just like our transformative Burning Man trip: opportunities are what you make of them as you creatively realize that anything is possible with imagination and ingenuity.  We hope that you too will be inspired to activate your skills and join forces with Burners Without Borders on the continuation of the Pisco Sin Fronteras reconstruction project.

-Jefe and Kelly


2 Responses to “Gaian Path Reconnects with the Burning Community in Peru”

  1. Novelty Pens says:

    Now is the time for alternative fuels… look at the disaster in the gulf. Biodiesel, wind, solar all part of the solution!

  2. Molly says:

    Great work and initiative! Collective harmony!