- Associated Press - Saturday, November 11, 2017

PUEBLO, Colo. (AP) - Winter is on its way and a good-hearted Puebloan is ready to make it as comfortable as possible for disadvantaged children in Mexico.

Ben Perea is in the process of collecting heavy coats, gloves, hats, blankets, wood burning stoves, propane and other heating elements, which in the coming weeks he plans to deliver to boys and girls ages 12-14 living inside caves in the mountains of northern Mexico.

Having undertaken regular “Good Samaritan” sojourns to Mexico for nearly 20 years, Perea said his latest excursion is intended to relieve the suffering of youngsters for whom a cold and damp cave is home.

“Way up there in the mountains, they have nothing, and that includes food,” Perea said. “I couldn’t believe what I saw. They don’t even have a school there.

“And it gets very cold up there. It’s cold already.”

Round-trip, the expedition is 2,220 miles and requires Perea to navigate what is essentially a dirt path up to the mountain area.

But there is another, more sinister, challenge Perea has had to contend with.

“No one goes up there because they are afraid. It’s cartel country,” Perea said. “In fact, I’ve had them come after me, but I outran them.

“But I figured that sooner or later they would catch me, so I risked my neck to make some contact with them.”

After Perea explained the nature of his missions, he said cartel members agreed to let the work continue.

“Even they recognized I was doing good for the kids,” Perea said.

In the end, Perea said the risks and hardships are well worth the reward.

“Just seeing those kids’ faces light up like silver and gold,” he said. “That’s why I do it, because they have nothing.”


Information from: The Pueblo Chieftain, http://www.chieftain.com

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