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Affluent, Boston-based college students embark on a weeklong goodwill trip to the slums of Lima, Peru in this story about the phenomenon of volunteer vacations—also known as "voluntourism" or service trips—which have fast become both a hallmark of global citizenry and a point of controversy for socially conscious millenials. In their attempts to teach English and work with developmentally disabled children, the students must confront the reality of their work and whether or not it’s creating positive change. A fresh take on a classic moral dilemma, H.O.P.E. Was Here deals with the intersection of privilege and poverty by asking what it really means to help people.
Travis and I recently returned from our 11-day trip Canto Grande, Peru. It was fun, challenging, and rewarding. Here are some highlights:
- Interviewed Principal at Fe y Alegria 25, the grade school where Stonehill College students have worked on alternative spring break for roughly 15 years.
- Interviewed Director at Yancana Huasy, a rehab clinic for developmentally disabled children. This is the other main work site for Stonehill students. Also interviewed two therapists there.
- Filmed Jhonny, the security guard at the Peyton Center, spending time with his family in his impoverished home in Canto Grande. Interviewed him, too.
- Filmed the students working on a couple projects that were new to the trip this year. First, manual labor at Jica Marca, a retreat area that the local parish is trying to develop. Second, transforming the library at Fe y Alegria 25. Previously, the library was used as a storage room for books, and was not really a place where kids would go to read. Stonehill tried to change that by cleaning, painting, adding comfortable seating and buying new books.
- Ate cow heart on a skewer ("Anticuchos") with a side of intestine, and liked it.
Travis and I gaze over the horizon in Canto Grande on our last day in Peru.
Now comes perhaps the hardest part of the documentary process: editing. We'd like to have H.O.P.E. Was Here finished in the next 5-6 months so we can submit it to the spring film festivals. The official premiere and global release (online) will likely be in 2014. We'll keep you posted. Until then, we'll be releasing clips from the film and continuing to share our journey as first-time feature filmmakers.