Team Member Volunteer Update from Peru


Thanks to Whole Foods Market Team Members, Dorothy Mankey and Mike Norrie, for contibuting to this post.

Last week two Pacific Northwest Team Members boarded a plane for Peru to participate in the Whole Foods Market Team Member Volunteer Program! Mike Norrie, Cambie ASTL, and Jeffrey Pump, Park Royal Village Customer Service Team Member traveled for 24 hours from Vancouver British Columbia to Mollendo, a coastal town in the Arequipa Region of Peru.  The Republic of Peru is in western South America, bordering the South Pacific Ocean, between Chile and Ecuador. Slightly smaller than Alaska, Peru has a population of 29,546,963.

Whole Foods Market sources onions from the Arequipa Region of Peru and the Whole Planet Foundation partners with Pro Mujer to fund microfinance in the region. In Peru alone, Pro Mujer currently serves more than 50,000 clients. The average loan is $245 and the focus is on women living in rural, impoverished communities. Mike was able to send the above picture of the Volcano Mista along with this bit about their visit from last week: 

“We spent a great day on Monday in the coastal town of Mollendo with Pro Mujer. Pro Mujer is the Whole Planet Foundation partner in Peru. We went to 2 communal bank association meetings where (mostly) women come together to receive and repay their loans, receive business  and empowerment training and preventive health education in a safe and supportive environment. One meeting was in town and one was outside the city. 

 Before Pro Mujer came to town, the women did not have access to any money to start their businesses (i.e., making pastries, raising pigs, small stores). The Pro Mujer office in Mollendo is a very happening place, with many groups receiving loans, training and healthcare services.”

Mike and Jeff were able to meet microcredit clients like Brigida, who uses her loan to make and sell the tasty Peruvian breakfast drinks from her stand in the market. The drinks are served warm and are made of grains such as quinoa or oatmeal, and they are filling and nutritious. Brigida is the treasurer of her communal bank at Pro Mujer.

“Day 3 on the hill…another day of getting medieval on the rock and tearing it apart with the barretta (a long piece of thick rebar that has been  sharpened to a point).

At the first site we actually got far enough to start building the corner columns for the tanks but at the other we’re still chipping away at rock to make room for the tank’s foundation.

Yesterday, the Mayor of Sachaca, the town outside of Arequipa that we’re working in, came up the hill to thank us for building the water tanks.  It was very cool that the Mayor hiked all the way up hill just to thank us.

After getting back from the hill, I love going to the market to sample the amazing range of fruitas fresco that are grown here in Peru. Huge mangoes, amazingly tasty cherimoyas, goldenberries and my new favourite, lucumas. Lucumas are dry but have a sweet orange flesh, they taste like a cross between a sweet potato and a mango. The most popular ice cream flavour here is lucuma.


There is a huge range of potatoes available at the market. And the original, fresh form of all kinds of things we sell in our stores as super foods like maca root. Incredible, nutrient dense food to keep us going up on the hill.”

To get up to the minute information about Pro Mujer, please visit their blog at

Now, who wants to go to Peru?