Seven Peruvian women will benefit from the upcoming Burpees for Charity event co-hosted by Power by You and the Pura Vida Foundation this Sunday. Their names are Yoni, Grimanesa, Yanet, Maribela, Vanessa, Sonia and Reina.
Ranging in age from 10 to 21, these women live in a condominium provided by Pura Vida in Cusco, Peru that’s overseen by a nurse who ensures they’re fed, clothed and adequately supported in their studies.
So why is Nathan Beninger, the Nelsonite who founded this charity with his wife seven years ago, doing this? What is it about these particular women that motivates him to keep working in a country that’s often hostile to his enterprise?
“I don’t think it’s so much because of Peru. I’ve travelled to over 50 countries, and once you start looking outside of Canada there aren’t a lot of nice places,” said Beninger, 31, who admires Che Guevera.
“You start seeing these things, you read certain books, you start traveling and you realize: this isn’t how this should be. This isn’t fair.”
What isn’t fair?
“These girls we work with come from Inca families, and quite often we’ll come up against: ‘this is my culture, I’m allowed to beat my wives and daughters.’ You’re going up against corruption, poverty, prostitution.”
It’s been made clear to him that the local community considers him to be robbing them of seven prostitution revenue streams, and he’s often feared for his life. But he keeps doing it, even though it’s hard.
“It costs us $38,000 a year to run our current shelter. And that’s to house four to seven women, and we’re putting two through private university.”
That’s a roof over their head, three meals a day, everything they need. And though they’re still struggling to “stay afloat,” Beninger has bigger dreams: they’ve bought a tract of land and hope to build multiple buildings on it.
“We bought the land in 2013 and we want to build a shelter on it. It would have a dormitory, kitchen, eating area and a building for a library, activities like crafts. It will take about $400,000.”
He got one step closer to that goal when it was recently announced a woman has donated her life insurance to Pura Vida, and when Power By You owner Ali Popoff announced her fundraiser Burpees for Charity, this Sunday at 2 p.m.
As well as hosting the event, in which athletes will work out for two hours, Power By You will also provide a food truck, face-painting and other community activities at their 723 Front St. location.
“We were born into privilege, but with that privilege I think there is a certain responsibility,” Beninger said. “I want to make a footprint on this planet. I want people to look back and say ‘well, that dude did something.’ I think now conversation isn’t enough. We need action.”
To participate in the fundraiser, contact Ali Popoff at email@example.com. The event is for all levels of fitness.
Reporter Will Johnson is a member of Power By You.