How One Vancouverite is Helping Peru Rebuild After August's Quake - And What You Can Do to Help

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When natural disaster strikes, people around the world are left wondering how they can help. On August 15th, an 8.0 earthquake hit Peru, devastating the country and leaving many without the bare necessities of survival. Robin Poirier, a Vancouver local, had been planning her move to Lima for months before the disaster when she suddenly found herself in a unique position to help. Discover how one person made a difference, and how you can too.

When the devastating earthquake hit Peru on August 15th, destroying 85,000 homes and killing over 500 people, Robin Poirier, like much of the world, knew she wanted to help. She just wasn't sure how to do it.

She'd been planning her move to Lima for months when, unexpectedly, she was given the opportunity to make a difference.

"When people travel they are given a great privilege," says Robin over the phone from Lima. "By recognizing their position as a guest in a community, travelers can take on some responsibility for that community - which will end up benefiting themselves and others."

Before leaving Vancouver, Robin rallied her friends and Fresh Tracks colleagues and raised $800. Once in Lima, she used this money to buy groceries, which she drove to the fishing town of Cerro Azul. Because most relief concentrates on larger cities, Robin used her local contacts to seek out other areas, like Cerro Azul. Her boyfriend had spent summers growing up on the shores of the fishing village, and knew the community could benefit from help.

The following weekend, Robin took a more hands-on approach to aid when she joined a group of volunteers to spend two days building 20 homes in the devastated town of Chincha.

As the communities around her struggle to rebuild, Robin will do everything she can to help, and encourages travelers around the world to think about doing the same, wherever they are.

"By being aware, respectful, and helping communities where you can," she says, "travel will become more intimate and powerful. You're able to see beyond the pretty tourist sights and get a real understanding of the people and the country - and isn't that what you travel to do?"

When disaster strikes internationally, the most immediate way to help is by giving money. The Red Cross is a large, well-established relief organization serving many communities around the world. For more information see

For a more personal donation, email Robin (robin @ to ask how you can help, or contact Fresh Tracks for suggestions for other responsible travel options.

One person can make a difference.

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