For Pura Vida Foundation founder Nathan Beninger and those who’ve supported him along the way, the dream of building a bigger shelter for young girls in Peru is close to becoming a reality.
Pura Vida means “pure life” in Spanish. The foundation was established in 2005 after Beninger, a photographer, first travelled to Peru to capture its natural beauty. Struck by the tragedy of young girls being exploited and abused, he decided to stay in Cusco to do what he could to make a difference.
Nathan said child prostitution is on the rise due to such extreme poverty that families are selling their children.
“We are literally changing their life path from severe abuse, prostitution, living on the street… we’re changing these kids’ lives in a way that is unbelievable… but here it’s more evident because they’re living with us and we’re seeing how we’re changing their lives little by little,” he said.
With the goal of setting up a larger facility, he’s been able to help up to five girls at a time in the shelter where he lives with his wife and young daughter.
Marni Beninger is Nathan’s sister and as she helps organize the annual Pura Vida fundraiser in Nelson, she’s happy to report land has been secured and building will begin this year on the shelter they’ve always wanted.
“We really are so lucky here,” says Marni. “It’s just so much easier here for us to access help. After travelling there to see my brother and seeing the extreme poverty, it was a real eye opener.”
The well-supported Pura Vida Foundation fiesta is being held on Friday, February 1 with funds raised going toward the new building. Marni says it will be an exceptional night of Peruvian culture.
“It will be a really fun evening with everything set up like a Latin American street fair,” she says.
At the food stations set up, people can expect delicious foods including crepes and fajitas. There will also be live and silent auctions on donated items. Nathan is also putting together a video where he’ll talk about his work and the foundation’s plans.
Marni says Latin dancing, including teaching of the tango, will round out the night.
“That was probably the highlight of the night last year,” she says. “People had fun trying a few steps. We have really great instructors and they break it down well.”
Tickets are $60 and are available at Mountain Waters Spa and Wellness, 204 Victoria Street. More information is available by phone 250-352-3280 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.