How Did the Guardian Warrior Foundation, Inc.

Get Started? ~ Gil Gillenwater

I love to travel.

In February of 2004, I went to visit my friend Daniel Turley in Chulucanas, Peru. Daniel is an Arzobispo (Archbishop) in the Catholic Church and has spent the majority of his adult life helping the desperately poor of northern Peru.

During my visit Daniel took me to a small village located outside of Piura named – Tierras Duras (Hard Lands) and nicknamed “El Virrey” (Viceroy). It had around 200 residents and in addition to small subsistence farming they raised goats, pigs, chickens and donkeys. Their water source was a small well located some distance from the village. It was greatly insufficient for the needs of the community. The low flow and having to haul the water kept the village stagnated in its poverty.

Daniel commissioned a water study that showed there was a substantial amount of ground water below the village but that it was located approximately 500 feet down.

The cost of drilling a well was quoted at $10,000.

However, Daniel told me about a piece of equipment that would allow workers to “hand drill” the well to a depth of 300 to 400 feet. Then the Government would drill the last 100 to 200 feet for free. The cost of this “hand drill” apparatus was $1,200, with the well casings running another $800. Unfortunately, $2,000 was totally out of reach for the village. 

I discussed this situation with Daniel and made the following proposal. If the village residents themselves would provide the labor (which was substantial), I would fund the $2,000 equipment purchase. This proposal was consistent with my “reciprocal giving” philosophy. The arrangement allowed the village members to maintain their dignity by providing them the opportunity to contribute to the reality of a new well and a brighter future.

This experience taught me that, researched properly, a very small amount of money leveraged correctly could make a huge difference in the lives of many people. My $2,000 investment would greatly enhance the lives and future prospects of 200 people.

The village was thrilled at their good fortune and threw a “Gran Fandango” for me and I ended up dancing and drinking several gourd-fulls of the local brew. After gourd number five I made the monumental mistake of asking how the beer was made. The village elder walked me into a nearby hut where six women were seated around a big metal pot. They were all chewing corn and then spitting it into the big pot where the slosh was allowed to ferment.

Like I said, I love to travel!

During this same visit I donated $5,000 to build five homes. Daniel was working on bringing adequate housing, education and healthcare to a settlement in one of the poorer parts of Chulucanas called the, “Asentamiento Humano Immaculate Conception” (the, Immaculate Conception Human Settlement). I supplied the funding conditioned upon the occupying families donating 200 hours of community service to Daniel’s projects every year. Here again, the recipients maintained their dignity by being provided the opportunity to take an active role in “earning” their homes. 

After this trip to Peru a couple of things became evident to me. Travel for the sake of travel (like every other self-indulgent activity) eventually becomes repetitious and boring. If I tour another Cathedral I think I’ll vomit.

However, when I mix service work into my overseas adventures they take on an energized meaning, they have a tipping-point purpose that never, ever gets old.

Because of my single visit to Peru, the lives of 200 villagers and 5 families have been forever changed for the better.

Now that’s power! That’s purpose!

When I returned home I immediately filed my corporate and non-profit status applications for the establishment of the Guardian Warrior Foundation, Inc.

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