Carmel Valley mom, son to volunteer in Peru


By Kristina Houck

While other 13-year-olds are hanging out with friends or playing video games, Alex Schaerer will be spending his summer volunteering with his mother in Peru.

On July 25, the Carmel Valley mother and son are traveling to the city of Cuzco, near the famed ruins of Machu Picchu, to volunteer at an orphanage for three weeks.

“I think the trip will give me a greater understanding of the culture and the language, as well as a greater appreciation for what we have,” said Alex, an eighth-grader at Pacific Ridge School in Carlsbad.

The duo booked their trip through International Volunteer HQ, a travel company that sends volunteers to developing countries to provide aid and assistance. Established in July 2007, IVHQ works in more than 25 countries and places thousands of volunteers abroad every year.

Alex’s mother, Lisa Schaerer, said she has always wanted to volunteer abroad. A nurse at San Diego Unified School District’s Language Academy, Schaerer is fluent in Spanish, so Peru was a “perfect fit.”

“I’m looking forward to being able to help make a small difference in the lives of these kids,” Schaerer said. “I know that in three weeks I’m not going to change their lives, but I’m hoping that just interacting and giving a little more TLC will at least make their lives a little bit better.”

For more about IVHQ, visit

Look for a story on the Schaerers’ experience in Peru in this newspaper when they return.