Channel Information

Melynda Thorpe
Executive Producer, Southern Utah LIVE
President, Emceesquare Media Inc.
(435) 773-0781



Heart Walk Foundation

A project for the HEART WALK FOUNDATION, St George Utah

Heart of Andes is a tale of human triumph and finding hope when it seems there is none left to find.

Filmed on location in Peru, “Heart of the Andes” tells the story of the international humanitarian organization Heart Walk Foundation based in southern Utah. Founders Tim and Penelope Eicher (Tim is a university professor and Penelope a mental health therapist) learned of the plight of the Q'ero Tribes living high in the Andes Mountains while they were traveling in Peru ten years ago. Through the eyes of a small boy, learn how Heart Walk Foundation is bringing hope and opportunity to a once forgotten and impoverished people.

You’ll discover something unforgettable about the resilience of human nature, and the hope that education and assistance can bring to a people once destitute and desperate to survive.

“Heart of the Andes” is the only locally produced professional documentary film selected to screen at DOCUTAH 2013 look at the trailer below.

Grow a Mountain Garden Campaign:

In May 2013, Tim and Penelope Eicher made their annual trek to the high mountain Q’ero villages in Peru where tribal members expressed enthusiasm for the first 7 greenhouses funded by Heart Walk Foundation in 2011 providing vegetables for school children and the elderly.  Embracing the success of the initial greenhouse projects, Q’ero tribal leaders requested 100 more greenhouses to be built by 2015 so that every family can raise vegetables for improved nutrition.

“We first introduced the idea of greenhouses in 2006 and it has been wonderful to see the villagers embrace the concept and become successful in making it work,” Penelope said. “Now, to receive their own proposal to provide a greenhouse garden for every family is a brilliant sign of progress. We are very pleased and know that along with trout farms, their nutrition needs can be met for years and years to come.”

With approximately 1,000 villagers in two tribes living in small hamlets across the mountains, the construction of 100 new greenhouses will give every family the ability to Grow a Mountain Garden of their own. Leaders proposed that groups of villagers would hike to lower elevations to cut and carry timbers for the roof frames, doors, and window frames.  They have requested assistance from Heart Walk Foundation to provide plastic sheeting, pipes, hoses, seeds and training to bring the project to fruition. Having survived for centuries on potato crops – the only vegetable they could grow above the tree line at 13,000 feet ­– Heart Walk Foundation introduced small-scale trout farming and greenhouse projects to bring improvements to the Q’ero diet.

According to Penelope, for the Q’ero to develop a proposal like this is tremendously meaningful to us because it demonstrates their commitment to working for what they are being given. “This proposal shows that they trust Heart Walk Foundation to assist them with a project of great magnitude and significance for their people,” she said. “For 10 years we have been building relationships of trust and helping them with basics of survival. Now they are looking forward and planning for the longevity of their people by creating plans to help secure a happiness and health in their beloved mountain home. This has been our dream all along.”

Penelope recalls, “On our early treks, the children and women were shy, insecure, and repressed. But now we see bright eyes, expressive faces, and hopeful hearts. All the villagers express how the projects are bringing them increasing health, skills, food security, dignity, and hope.”

According to Tim, “Along with the trout farms we’ve helped them build, the greenhouses will assist them to develop sustainable means of food security for this people who were on the brink of starvation ten years ago.” 

The project to build 100 greenhouses has been approved by the Heart Walk Foundation Board of Directors and will be supported by a national film tour and fundraising campaign, “Grow a Mountain Garden.” The campaign will launch in Sept. 2013 at the DOCUTAH International Film Festival and will run through Feb. 2014 when the film returns from its national tour to the Heart Walk Annual Gala.

The film “Heart of the Andes” will serve as the platform for education, promotion and fund raising as it screens in at least 10 major national cities including Jacksonville, Fla., New York City, N.Y., Seattle, Wash., and Salt Lake City, Utah. The goal of the campaign is to raise $50,000 to meet the need for supplies for the 100 greenhouses and their transportation to the high villages. Each greenhouse will cost $500 for supplies, transportation and construction.

“One hundred new greenhouses would give every family a garden to grow and tend to,” Penelope Eicher said. “In our country where we have access to so many modern amenities, it is difficult to comprehend how much a gift like this truly means to a mountain community subsisting on potatoes and tubers for nearly 500 years.” 


"Heart of the Andes" is the only locally produced film to be accepted to the 2013 DOCUTAH International Film Festival to be held in St. George, Utah in September. Of 307 entries, 50 films were accepted representing 30 countries, commonwealths and republics. Three of the 50 were produced by Utah filmmakers including "Heart of the Andes," produced by editor Myke Bush, writer and director Melynda Thorpe Burt, and sound engineer Keith R. Owen. All reside in St. George, Utah.


Filmed on location in Peru last Fall, "Heart of the Andes" tells the story of a people living high in the Andes Mountains on the brink of starvation 10 years ago. This never-before-told story chronicles the work of Tim and Penelope Eicher of southern Utah who happened upon the plight of the Q'ero people while traveling in Peru in 2003. Since then, they have built a community of supporters to introduce education, nutrition, and hope for a bright future. 

Heart Walk Foundation Videos