A lot of people dream of leaving home, heading for another part of the world, and helping people who are a lot worse off than ourselves. Because deep in our hearts we all have the desire to really make a difference. In Helena van Engelen’s case, it wasn’t a dream or a fantasy, but a calling.
How it started
After watching a documentary, she became determined to set up a project for poverty-stricken children and got on a plane to Peru. Where she was deeply moved by the horrific circumstances in which the children in the slums there were being forced to live. Roaming around, being maltreated and abused. Children who, apart from their beautiful brown eyes, had absolutely nothing. No love, no attention, no home, no future.
Helena decided that she would do everything in her power to give these children a future and get their eyes shining brightly again. She went back to the Netherlands to sell her house and then went straight back to her new homeland. To put her heart and soul into helping the forgotten children of Peru.
In Urubamba, in the Holy Valley close to Cusco, she bought a 2.7 hectares of land. And on this idyllic location, where crystal-clear water flows from the mountains and fragrant herbs grow from the Andes, Mamita Helena built a centre for children from the surrounding slum communities. Since then, countless children have found a home there. A home where they are able to live in an atmosphere of love, safety and health, and where they can learn and blossom.
This video by Mirjam Bleeker accompanies the book Mamita Helena published in 2012.