May 8, 2017

EMM plans adventure fundraiser to benefit Peruvian school

Written by  Emily Jones
Kristie and Ryan Sommers, short-term EMM workers who served as PROMESA teachers, stand in front of Peru’s Rainbow Mountain. Kristie and Ryan Sommers, short-term EMM workers who served as PROMESA teachers, stand in front of Peru’s Rainbow Mountain. Photos by Ryan and Kristie Sommers unless otherwise indicated.

SALUNGA, Pa. Eastern Mennonite Missions (EMM) is organizing its first-ever adventure fundraiser: a six-day trek through the Andes Mountains.

For 12 years, the mission agency has partnered closely with the PROMESA school in Cusco, Peru, to provide Peruvian students with high-quality, discrimination-free, Christian education. Now, thanks to PROMESA’s success, a new school building is needed.

That’s where the trek comes in. EMM’s debut adventure fundraiser, happening October 15–24 (including travel and sightseeing days), will take trekkers into PROMESA’s mountainous home turf to help raise money for the new school.

The school is a cause EMM has believed in from the beginning.

PROMESA was founded by the Peruvian Mennonite Church in 2005 as an answer to several problems with Peruvian public education. These included the public school system’s discrimination against students from evangelical or indigenous Quechua backgrounds and the sometimes low quality of public education.

PROMESA stands for “Programa Menonita de Educación en Sabiduría y Amor” — in English, “The Mennonite Program of Education in Wisdom and Love.”

Former EMM worker Ron Shultz, who helped develop and teach at PROMESA, remembers when the school was just 11 pre-elementary students meeting in San Jerónimo Mennonite Church’s sanctuary.

“Every year, there was always the question of, ‘What about next year?’” he said.

But PROMESA thrived. EMM kept up the partnership, sending teachers regularly. Today, PROMESA has almost 300 students from kindergarten through high school and 30 teachers.

PROMESA still meets at San Jerónimo Mennonite Church, but the inadequate facilities have forced the school to begin turning away prospective students.

It’s time to expand the dream.

Engineering Ministries International has designed PROMESA’s new building, which will stand on a 34-acre property purchased in 2014. The proposed school is perched on a mountainside — like many buildings in Cusco.

Now all that’s left to do is raise funds and build.

“It's exciting to lend PROMESA a hand in their important work while also offering members of EMM's supporting community a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity,” said EMM Development Director Kaylene Derksen.

In partnership with Steep Adventures, an organization that combines adventure and fundraising, the trek will take hikers up to 17,000 feet above sea level. They’ll catch views of the Ausangate Mountain, significant in Incan mythology, and the Rainbow Mountain, a peak naturally covered in bands of bright color.

The trek will be a focal point around which trekkers can raise funds for PROMESA. The funds will go toward a road and bridge to connect PROMESA’s new mountain property with the outside world.

Adventurous community members have until June 16 to sign up for the trek. More information is available here.