Lions Club members raise money for Peru teen’s education

Some local participants in a 2006 Andes Mountains trekking trip in Peru were so impressed with Josue Mendez

Some local participants in a 2006 Andes Mountains trekking trip in Peru were so impressed with Josue Mendez

Lions Club members raise money for Peru teen’s education

Josue Alejo Mendez, 18, will get the surprise of a lifetime this summer when local residents give him money to pay for his college education.

Mendez lives in Huaraz, Peru, where he cares for the blind uncle of Hisao Morales, owner of Peruvian Andes Adventures, a trekking guide business. His family is poverty-stricken and his dad ill, but that has not stopped Mendez from dreaming of becoming a police officer.

Federal Way Lions Club members and local residents, who met the young man while they were trekking the Andes Mountains, are helping him accomplish his dream. They are collecting funds to pay for a college education for Mendez.

Lions Club treasurer Nancy Rathe and Browns Point resident Rosalie Hilburn met Mendez in 2006 when they trekked Cordillera Blanca in the Andes Mountains. The two women took an immediate liking to him.

“Every time we turned around, there was Josue with a big smile and standing ready to help us,” Hilburn said.

The oldest of 12 siblings, Mendez is from a small district in Peru called Cashapampa, where there is no high school, Hilburn said. He came to Huaraz to care for Morales’ uncle in exchange for boarding and a chance to receive more schooling. Mendez recently graduated and wishes to pursue further education. His family is unable to afford the expenses.

When Rathe found out he wanted to attend college and possibly become a police officer, she asked her peers and the Federal Way Lions Club to provide some funding.

“He is just the most delightful young man,” Rathe said. “He’s intelligent and he works so hard.”

Approximately $1,000, the original goal, has been raised so far. The money will be used to pay for fees, equipment and uniforms required to attend a police training college, Rathe said. A new fundraising goal has not been set since surpassing the primary one. All the money collected for Mendez will be delivered by surprise this July when Rathe returns to Peru to participate in another trek.

Corruption is a way of life in the country, and so the American group will trust the tour guide and Morales’ uncle, Pablo, to administer the funding for Mendez’s schooling, Rathe said.

“I think it’s an extremely worthwhile cause and would go to help an individual that would really benefit from this,” Hilburn said.

Contact Jacinda Howard: or (253) 925-5565

Check it out:

To donate to Josue Mendez’s college fund, contact Nancy Rathe at (253) 838-7420. Make checks payable to the Federal Way Lions Foundation.

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