Jump on the LOVE Train

Many Hearts Await You

by Rae Lewis


Book Details

Chicuchas Wasi and logo on top. From an emergency shelter for street children to a K-6 school for girls. Chicuchas Wasi had been dedicated to serving children in need for 31 years.

How Do You Say “Love” in Quechua?

"Chicuchas Wasi is a place defined by love. Love is the first and last consideration of everything they do, and it is so palpable that even a stranger like me, entering for the first time, could feel it…

The teachers and school director, who also function as social workers, visit with the community and families to find the girls who are most in need. These are teachers who know what is going on in each student’s home because they do the visits themselves. They bring the parents to the school for parenting education and engage the parents in the activities of the school. When girls graduate, they bring them back to the school to ensure they have what they need, but also to give a forum for the girls, still considered at-risk, to express their feelings about their lives.

I received a tour of the school and an incredible presentation of the Incan Winter Solstice ceremony. Each girl made her own costume, learned songs, dances, chants, and scripts for this event. It was an unforgettable spectacle showcasing the leadership of the older girls and the potential of the younger girls …Nutrition is a major factor affecting their health and, therefore, the ability to move out of poverty for these families. It was great to see the quality of food prepared for the girls.

There are 126 girls enrolled at Chicuchas Wasi and it was clear after speaking with the students, the teachers, and some parents that it is a life-changing experience for the girls and their families. I think I left my heart there..."
- Beth Ellen Holimon. President, Dining for Women


Book Excerpt

A quick trip with Ruth to my favorite Cusco market to shop for quinoa, veggies and bread is colorful eye candy to me. A lined brown face with thick black braids that fall to her waist is tied together with yarn at the end. She sits unstressed on top of her practical soft cushion of woven mantas, her full brown breasts hang freely, the nipples still pressed flat and waiting for her tiny bundle wrapped tightly in a blanket and tied with a colorful woven cord. Her little one of about three months is distracted by the two three-year-olds playing next to her and has momentarily let go of her comfort; white drops slide off the left side of her pink mouth. She remembers, and cries rooting for the warm comfort, grabs hold, and greedy slurping sounds silence the whimpers. Not even teenage boys bother to look at the exposed round breast, with babies attached like dots on fabric. No one notices a naked breast, and they are everywhere, available to pacify an upset child. Occasionally the face attached to the breast shows years of life well past making milk, but available just the same. Again no one notices. The train arrives in the middle of Cusco’s San Pedro Market. The market spreads out up and down side streets and connects to its overflowing enclosed center. Vendors under blue plastic stretched on poles sell olives in barrels, dried raisons and fresh-smelling brown bread and corn flour bread. Buses, cars, pedestrians and shoppers push and shove their way through. Hungry dogs scavenge and strike gold often and can be seen running out of the main building with a hunk of dripping red meat clutched between bared teeth, with an angry Indian woman in full-layered skirts in chase, shouting in Quechua and swinging her fists at the dog. The savvy dog dives into a narrow path and gets away. The woman’s face is screwed up with her frustration; resigned, she turns to go inside to her booth.


About the Author

Rae Lewis

Rae was born in San Francisco and raised in Sausalito, California. She and her husband and three sons later settled in rural Sonoma County. Rae has many skills from a variety of professions: Registered Nurse with experience in several local hospitals, Real Estate Professional, and worked in many aspects of the Family Business as a teenager where she gained many skills that proved useful later running a non-profit. Later, she moved to Cusco, Peru and founded the Chicuchas Wasi Organization and lived in the CW Shelter project for the next 10 years setting up and building a team for a successful Chicuchas Wasi today. Eventually it was time to reorganize the nonprofit, in favor of the CW School for Indigenous Girls and she turned over the Cusco project to the capable hands of Ruth Uribe, a resident teacher and natural leader in CW since 1994 and creator of the school. Rae returned home to Sonoma to manage the business side of Chicuchas Wasi and continues to do so today, 32 years later. CW is a labor of love she says, and not really work. For more information : www.chicuchaswasi.org FaceBook : chicuchaswasi Email: Chicuchas_wasi@sonic.net