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On mission to build bathrooms

In a Peruvian village of 50 families, there is one functioning bathroom. It is located in the elementary school and was built just last year.

Jaime Batschi and Alexis Bennett will join a delegation of students June 14 to build bathrooms in Salkantay, a village outside of Cusco in the southeastern Andes.

They first fly to Atlanta and join a larger group of participants. From there they will head to Lima, then to Cusco which is considered the myhtical capital of the Inca Empire.

“I always wanted to have an experience totally different from where I live,” said Bennett, a Klahowya junior.

The trip is part of the Alliance for Youth Service, a Church of Jesus Christ and the Latter-Day Saints program for students 16-20 years old. The humanitarian effort is led by Jaime and Terry Figueroa who have lived in Peru for the past five years.

On most of the three-week trip Bennett and Batschi will help construct about 20 family sized bathrooms and help the village with its water system.They will stay at a youth hostel “Casa del Abuelo” in Cusco, which is about a two hour walk from Salkantay. The children in the village know the walk well, since students older than the fourth grade have to walk it daily to go to school.

“What impressed me most are the people, who have seemingly so little by our standards, are so happy,” said Judy Batschi, Jaime’s mother. Judy has traveled quite a bit and is excited to see how this experience affects the girls.

“I know how eye opening and life changing it can be for them,” she said.

The village is about 12,000 feet above sea level and participants are encouraged to exercise before they go on the trip.

Batschi has taken three years of Spanish at Central Kitsap High School and said she looks forward to being completely immersed in the culture. While the students will spend much of their time building bathrooms, during the evenings and weekends they will participate in cultural events.

One of the “perks” for their labor is a visit to the ruins of Machu Picchu, located in the Urubamba province.

The trip costs about $2,000 for travel, meals and accommodations. Bennett and Batschi have asked local businesses for donations.

Although a little apprehensive about their teen daughters traveling to a third world nation, they know when their children return they will be changed.

“I know that it will be a real good experience,” Dawna Bennett said.

To make a donation to defray Alexis Bennett’s or Jaime Batschi’s travel costs call (360) 692-2662 or (360) 692-8834, respectively.

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