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Yancana Huasy: My Reflection

by Nick Krautscheid '19

photo of three people standing together

It is 6 a.m. in Portland, 8 a.m. local time. Following a long day of travel and a restless night of sleep, we journey across town to arrive at Yancana Huasy in Lima, Peru. As a college student, it has been quite some time since I’ve seen this time of day. As I rub my eyes and wait for the caffeine to kick in, something else brings me to life more quickly than caffeine ever could - something unexpected. It’s a quiet, humble voice. Though battered by years of tireless work, the voice spoke this short sentence with heavy conviction:

“It’s not just something human.”

The voice that caught my attention, even at such an early hour, belongs to Father Daniel Panchot, C.S.C. He spoke of the divine presence and intervention of God that he witnesses daily at Yancana Huasy - an organization that accomplishes a great deal more than human hands could ever accomplish alone. It would not take long for the rest of us to experience this divine presence that animated Father Daniel’s words that morning.

Truly, it is impossible to capture the challenging, inspirational, and beautiful experience I had while on the Opus Prize site visit in written word, let alone in a few short paragraphs. During our time at Yancana Huasy, we experienced a great deal in a short amount of time. A great deal of community, compassion, and Christ, intimately at work with his people. Although the experiences shared below are what I consciously carry with me going forward, the true impact on this trip is certainly the seeds planted in my heart and mind that continue to form what it means for me to live a fulfilling, God-centered life. A life of service beyond self, devoted to sharing our gifts as, hand-in-hand, we empower others to share theirs.

The memories I carry with me from this trip center on the resiliency of the human spirit. In the work of Father Daniel, José Antonio, and all those we met at Yancana Huasy, we witnessed humility and deep, sincere joy. A joy that, given the circumstances of poverty and endless challenges, one would expect to quickly fade away. Yet, due to the faith and celebrations that we witnessed at Yancana Huasy, those who work there seem sustained beyond human reason. 

Furthermore, the work done at Yancana Huasy permeates throughout the community and calls all persons to give more of themselves. One such story left an unforgettable image on my mind. It is the image of a brother who, animated by faith, moves mountains to give his sister the opportunity to attend school. Daily, this young man hoists his sister onto his shoulders and carries her up and down concrete steps on the side of a mountain. He does this because his sister is wheelchair-bound and would otherwise be unable to attend school. Later I found out that he carries her wheelchair up and down the mountain as well. This forced me to reconsider how much I take for granted in life. Mobility, access to education, and a high standard of living are aspects of life that I have simply come to expect. This experience, along with countless others, continues to plant seeds in my life, of which, I hope will someday bear a fraction of the determination and compassion for others that I witnessed during this site visit.

The work done at Yancana Huasy truly forms the heads, hearts, and hands of all the people they reach with their ministry. They continue to change countless lives of people of all abilities, including my own. They continue to change the culture of Lima -- creating a city where all of God’s children feel welcome. Yet, with all of this work that Yancana Huasy continues to accomplish, let us remember to return to Father Daniel’s words that he spoke with such conviction during our early first morning in Peru.

“It’s not just something human.”

It is the work of God. A personal, intimate God who accomplishes more than we could ever fathom through those who serve him. A God who is love and loves every single one of us.