Shane Vermooten | Week 10

“Paging passenger Vermooten, please present your boarding pass to the ticketing desk” my heart jumped inside my chest was I going to get upgraded? I handed over my ticket very excitedly, only to have the ticket handed back with a seat closer to the back of the plane, bummer. Apparently there was a family who needed to sit together and so I got pushed back, when I boarded the flight I was pleasantly surprised to find that family was the Bazan’s. We were on the same flight together because I was going with Kique Bazan, one of the co-founders of Not For Sale to Peru to film and an event we were hosting with the surfing tribe and some local street kids for Freedom Sunday. My job was to film edit and upload the service in time for it to be downloaded and prepared for broadcast in Korea, this gave me about 9 hours.

When I arrived in Peru it was already late so I just got dropped off at my hostel in Lima, the next day I was picked up and taken down to San Bartolo where I would spend most of my trip. Almost as soon as I arrived in San Bartolo some of the kids from the surfing tribe, showed me around the area, it was very beautiful and we went up to a look out over the ocean so they could see if the Tsunami was going to hit as there was a warning issued for 6pm Peru time. The place I got to stay was amazing, it was right down on the beach and due to the tsunami warning the place was completely empty and so I got told to pick any room I wanted.

The Freedom Sunday event was going to take place on the beach, which I was really excited for because it was going to look great on video, but at the last-minute it was moved to a park in Lima because the government shut down all the local beaches for a couple of days due to the tsunami warning. It was a great day in the park, there where soccer games a meal for everyone and music. During the service Lucy, who heads up the operation in Peru handed out pictures off the people who had been lost to the streets, and friends took these pictures and held them while the service was being conducted. The park was quite a ways from where I was staying and after the service was completed the kids were still going to hang around the park for a while so we had to make a plan to get the video edited. After asking around Kique got me into the parks board office and I sat on the floor editing the piece for freedom sunday while people were working around me. I could not communicate with the people in the office at all but if we could I am sure we would have been pretty good friends by the time I left there. The piece needed to be 90 seconds and I had about 60 seconds completed when Kique shouted from outside the building “Shane we are off” and I suppose in “Latin American time” much like “African time” things may take a long time to happen but once they start you had better be on board, and so I packed up my equipment and went outside to board the bus for the hour bus ride back to my hotel. By the time we arrived I was pretty hungry but had no time to stop as the deadline in Korea was getting closer with every minute. I finished the last 30 seconds and had the video uploading on schedule, now it was just time to sit back enjoy the sound of the crashing waves and look forward to an early night which I had not gotten yet. The deadline was about 20 minutes away and the upload was at 75%, but then to my horror I watched as the uploaded speed got slower, slower, slower and then the upload stalled, I jumped on skype with Gabe back in the US so we could try figure this out, I knew I had to get it plugged into the router if we were going to have any chance of having it upload in time for the service so I ran out to the reception which was locked, when I found a security guard I tried to explain that I need to plug in an Ethernet cable, now imagine trying to communicate that in a foreign language, it just wasn’t happening and all this time the clock was still ticking and my deadline had come and gone. It was now about 11pm and I was thinking we are finished this is never going to make it to Korea and then just then Kique appeared around the corner and casually said, “Hey man how is it going” after I managed to get the words out about the situation we were in he spoke top the security guard and got us into the office and plugged into Ethernet, we then set off sprinting down the streets of this small little town, hard drive in hand, stopping to walk every time we passed a dog, as a back up we were going to start uploading from the internet café at the same time to a different site. I left Kique and ran back to the hotel to agonizingly watch the upload progress. We managed to speak to the church in Korea and tell them what was happening and they told us the absolute latest they can have it is 2:30 their time, and eventually after a lot of sweat and nerves the file finished uploading at 2:33 and made it into the broadcast.

I stayed on a couple extra days to film the amazing work that Lucy and her team at Generacion are doing in Peru to protect victims, and give survivors of exploitation a new future. And then just like that it was over and I was on the plane back to San Francisco, it had been less then a week from the time I left to the time I arrived back, but yet in that short time I witnessed wealth and poverty, exploitation and rehabilitation, I had heard stories of hope and stories of pain, looked into eyes full life and wished for new life in others. Walking away from this trip I had very much the same feeling that I had after spending time with Kru Nam, privileged and honored that I get to meet such amazing people who are truly laying down there lives for those who are vulnerable, and it’s a constant reminder of how much I can do with what I have, and honestly ask myself am I doing enough?

Thank you for your prayers and support along my journey, I am honored that you are a part of my story.

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