Machu Picchu hike a life-changing experience


Group photo in front of mountain

For Randstad employee Katherine Gamache Pellerin, scaling Machu Picchu wasn’t just an opportunity to challenge herself. For her, it was also important to know she was helping others.

Katherine and 10 other people from across Canada signed up for the Peru Challenge and raised over $38,000 in support of Cuso International’s programs.

“It was really about giving back,” said the certified staff consultant. “I really got to see the impact Cuso International has made.”

Cuso International and Randstad Canada have been partners for more than a decade. The HR services company knows the value of global philanthropy and how important corporate social responsibility programs are. Creating social impact in personal and professional circles is on the rise, since it has proven to increase employee retention and satisfaction. Randstad Canada is proud of their partnership with Cuso International, as staff members get to see firsthand the significant impact they are having on marginalized communities in developing countries.

Katherine initially planned to sign up for a placement in Jamaica, but due to other factors she couldn’t be away from home for a six-month period.

“I couldn’t make it work,” said the 29-year-old from Montreal. And so, when she received an invitation to help raise funds and participate in the Peru Challenge, she knew it was meant to be.

“Ten days, everyone can go for 10 days,” said Katherine. “And to do it via my job—it was the easiest thing.”

The hike also helped Katherine to close out a difficult year health-wise.

“I was very sick last winter. I developed anxiety and my asthma came back,” she said. “For two weeks I stayed in bed. I couldn’t move. I couldn’t take four stairs.

“When I received the email about the Peru Challenge, I had a big energy push, like I’m going to beat this. It really helped me get my mind back, my inner energy back. It really gave me confidence.”

But the biggest reward—aside from making it to the top of Machu Picchu—was meeting the women working with the Asociación Kusi Kawsay, a local Cuso International partner. The association works with Indigenous communities to merge ancient knowledge and traditions of the Andes with sustainability practices.

“It was really nice to see the real human impact (and) the work Cuso International is doing,” said Katherine. “Those women are so connected with nature, they’re connected with their community and they’re connected with their kids. It’s all about everyone coming together so everyone can make it.

“That’s the part that makes me so in love with the trip. This experience—it changed me.”