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Parkites will travel to Peru to rebuild home

Kristina Eastham OF THE RECORD STAFF

While media coverage of the Aug. 2007 earthquake in Peru has died down, some Peruvians are still feeling its devastating effects, including the family of Park City resident, Liliana Puma.

Puma moved to Park City in Dec. 2006 to intern at the Marriott Mountainside Hotel, fulfilling the final requirement for her hospitality management degree from the Columbia Institute. Her family lives in Chincha Alta, Peru and while all members of her family survived the 7.9 magnitude earthquake, their home did not.

Friends in Park City have come to Puma’s aide to help her family rebuild their residence, which provided shelter for seven of her family members, including her mother, father, three nephews, cousin, and cousin’s son. Eight Park City residents plan to depart for Peru on Nov. 3 and spend nine days there completing a three-bedroom home for Puma’s family.

Immediately after the tragedy, Puma’s friends wanted to mail aid to Peru, but their plan was complicated by customs regulations.

"If you mail a package that’s worth more than $100 in Peru, they pay more in taxes than the package is worth," Puma’s friend and volunteer Ben Dilts said. "This is the only way we could find that we could actually get help through to them down there."

Due to the nature of her visa, Puma has been unable to return home to see her family since she arrived in Park City.

"She has not been able to visit her family at all because the visa requirements are so stringent that she had to have a very good excuse to go down there. She’s going to be able to go down there with us, but she had to jump through all kinds of hoops to get that done. She wouldn’t have been able to go down there if it hadn’t been for this project," Dilts said.

The individuals from Park City who will be traveling to Peru are paying their own way and will provide most of the physical labor necessary for the project. However, donations are needed for building materials and to hire a few local skilled laborers. Puma’s friends who are organizing this project estimate the cost of rebuilding the home will be around $15,000. While they have raised between $3,000 and $4,000 simply by word of mouth, they are hurrying to raise the rest by Oct. 27 so the wired funds can be available to purchase materials when they arrive.

A dinner will be held Monday night in an effort to raise the remaining money. The dinner will take place at 6:30 p.m. at the LDS Stake-Center Chapel at 2300 Monitor Drive in Park City. The group is requesting donations $50 per individual or $100 per family for the dinner, but encourage those unable to donate the full amount to attend regardless. Donations can be made by check at the event. The menu may end up being as simple as spaghetti, but the group hopes to draw guests to support the cause.

"This is on such a short time schedule here, we’re just trying to have the event be a success with as little overhead and stress as possible" Dilts said.

For those unable to attend the dinner, donations can also be mailed to Ben Dilts Amigos of Honduras at PO Box 1854, Park City, UT 84098 or made online at projectpuma.org.

In the meantime, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has provided tarps as temporary shelter, food, water and medical supplies while Puma’s family awaits a more permanent dwelling.


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