I met Jan when I was 19, and he was the student advisor for the LDS institute where I was attending college. I think he and I made an instant connection because we are both very outgoing people. He asked me to sign up for the institute's student council, and when he called to tell me that they wanted me to be over the student activities for the following year, I was thrilled! It was an experience that changed my life for the good, for ever. We've remained close friends ever since, and I consider him to be my mentor. He knows me better than most people and has been a great support and cheerleader in my life. I am blessed to have his friendship in my life. He is a really amazing person.
Recently, I was able to attend the Fundraiser Gala that Eagle-Condor put on to recognize those who have made great contributions to the organization, as well as to continue in their humanitarian efforts. As a correspondent for my local paper, as well as a friend interested in their organization, I covered the event. The following is the story I submitted, and I wanted to share it with a world-wide audience.
|Jan Felix and Laura Chabries, Humanitarian Board President and Director of Operations|
SALT LAKE CITY- In a world where a variety of humanitarian organizations are offering services to third world communities, one group stands above all the others. Instead of simply dropping off supplies to unknown individuals, this group of Humanitarians insists on teaching self-reliance techniques and providing sustainability to the communities they work in.
The group, Eagle-Condor Humanitarian, was founded in 2003 and has grown quickly in their outreach to communities within Peru, Ecuador, Colombia, and Bolivia. Although a portion of the work involves professional medical assistance funded by doctors and medical staff who travel with them, most of the expeditions are funded by individuals who desire simply to serve less fortunate people.
One such individual is Karen Timothy, a Davis County resident who funded her recent family expedition to Cusco, Peru, by doing faux painting and holding catered dinners in her own backyard during the summer months. Along with her husband, Timothy was also joined by her 3 children and 2 of their spouses.
|Karen Timothy and family|
Timothy stated that beyond the most basic realization of just how easy we have it in the United States, she came to understand how much better it is to physically help instead of just sending money to a random organization. She said, "When you are standing in someone's home, you know best how to help them; you see it, smell it and you breathe it. It changes you."
The purpose of Eagle Condor is to go into the communities that they serve and teach the native people how to take care of themselves and their children. "This is not a 'parachute drop and run' type organization that we are running. We are there to teach the people how to have long term self reliance and to get themselves out of poverty", stated Director of Operations Laura Chabries.
Chabries came to the organization as a expedition member who found a link online which led her to discover the work of Eagle Condor. After completing her humanitarian trip, she married and moved to Davis County, and started her close relationship with the organization. "What I liked about the group initially is their philosophy of teaching self reliance, and that you actually did something with the people instead of just leaving a package of supplies there", stated Chabries.
Eagle Condor Humanitarian functions within a unique framework and mission that is not often found in the world of humanitarian work. In fact, the group's focus is so unique and vital to the economy within Peru, that the government has granted them permission to continue to do work there when other groups have been ejected from the country and denied future access.
A Benefit Gala was recently held to raise funds for future projects and to recognize individuals who have excelled in their efforts to help the organization. Special guest David Utrilla, Honorary Peruvian Consulate, addressed the gathering and shared how the government came to the realization that Eagle Condor met a need within the country that should be encouraged and allowed. Utrilla shared his gratitude to the organization for allowing "Peruvians to take ownership of their work, and recognizing that they are a proud people who do not want to just take hand-outs".
|Wives of the Peru Consulate and an LDS General Authority|
Karen Timothy related that the children within the upper villages are especially in need of learning to take care of themselves, including how to speak English. In addition, the group provides micro-loans, training, supplies, and support to run their own family businesses so that they can pull their own families out of poverty.
A dynamic which many people do not think about when contributing goods to under-developed countries is that they may be taking away the opportunity from the natives to provide for themselves. For instance, when clothing is sent to a country which has residents whom are already sewing and producing clothes for members of their village or city, they take business away from individuals who are trying to provide an income for themselves and their family in an effort to become self-sufficient.
Eagle Condor's official mission statement is "To empower children and families by providing opportunities for self reliance". A full range of expeditions, medical work, financial support and training come together to ensure that the organizations goals are met and that plans for future projects come to fruition. Individuals who wish to become involved in the work being done by this unique organization can visit their website at Eagle-Condor.org.