live well. give well.

  1. Owner of Ricotón Marino

  2. Former patient at Hogar San Francisco de Asis

  3. Bootstrapped himself out of abject poverty



intro video

Alan Dany Hernandez Ramos

Entrepreneur, Lima Peru

I was born on April 17th in the Cajamarca, province of Jaén.  My parents are Fortunato Hernández Hurtado and Georgina Ramos Avellaneda.  I am the fourth of six children.  When y was very young my parents moved me to San Martin in the province of Rioja.

At the age of seven I took a great fall, about 10 meters high, which resulted in the dislocation of my right hip. Due to my parent’s economic situation they weren’t able to pay for proper treatment of my injury.  Turning eight years old I got to know a congregation of nuns who sent me for medical treatment to the Hogar San Francisco de Asis, run by Doctor Anthony Lazzara.  [A home for ill and destitute children].

That is how I arrived at the home in Chaclacayo, on Lima’s outskirts, where I stayed for two years to recover from my hip injury.  Fifteen days after having returned home again, my mother committed suicide because of the physical and emotional abuse she was suffering from my father. My siblings and I continued to live with our father for two more years but because of his bad personality we decided to leave him and live with our grandparents (on my father’s side) instead, who were given official custody. For two years I lived happily with my siblings and grandparents but due to economic necessity I had to leave and go work.  I decided to travel to Chiclayo where an aunt of mine lived, and I sold ice cream in the streets and later worked as a shoe shiner.  After spending nine months like this I started to feel discomforts that prevented me from working and I spent my savings on a bus ticket back to Lima in order to consult Doctor Anthony Lazzara for help. After arriving in Lima I spent the night sleeping in the park Bolognesi and called the doctor the next day who gave me directions for how to find him in Chaclacayo.

Back in the Hogar, I was treated for my hip condition over the next two years.  Everyone there was very kind and I developed brotherly feelings for all the patients.  Doctor Anthony gave me a basic education which installed in me the hope that I would be able to excel through my own efforts.

At age fifteen my health had improved so much that I could leave the Hogar. I went to live with a friend, Miguel Angel, whom I had met in the Hogar and who lived in Lima.  Two months later I found a job as kitchen assistant and so could pay for my own room.  On the job I learnt to cook my first dishes but the pay was so low that I was forced to look for something else. Often, I was refused a job because I was still a minor or lacked an official Identity Card (DNI) but eventually , with the help of friends, found a job as welding assistant in metal construction. I learnt very much and also another ex-patient from the Hogar, Gabriel, came to live with me because he too, wanted to live in Lima and make a living for himself. We lived together for four years and when I turned eighteen I received my official identity Card.  At that point more and more doors started opening for me. I started working for a textile factory and little by little rose through the ranks until I became the area manager.

Once I had saved enough money I started to pursue my dream, to own a restaurant. I applied for jobs in Lima’s best restaurants.  In the interviews I would never say “I don’t know” but gave my very best and when they noticed this, I was hired. So I spent the years working as a cook until I was 22 and profound pains forced me to resign. I tried to cure myself but since I did not have family or friends to help and was tied to bed, often I was forced to pay for some treatments.  The money that I had saved through so much hard work was spent little by little and I started taking on loans from friends.  However, I needed more money and so, in desperation, took on a bank loan. I never thought I would have to spend all my savings this way. Disillusioned and in great pain I had to call my sister to come help me.  She came to take care of me for a week but since she is a woman there were many things that she could not do for me and I finally sought help from Doctor Anthony again.

To my great surprise the doctor agreed to take me in once more; never would I have thought to return at age 22. I spent a month in rest and underwent more operations, feeling that my dreams had been destroyed.  One month and a half into my stay I got to know Jil Hellmann who was working in the Hogar as a volunteer.  Although the days in the Hogar passed slowly I was let go earlier than I thought, incredibly thankful for everything the doctor did for me.  I left with the ambition to continue pushing onwards with the realization of my dream: owning a restaurant.

A few months later I had worked to accumulate a bit of capital which allowed me to rent a small place.  From a loan I bought plates, kitchen utensils and other things and thanks to God I could again see the possibility of realizing my dream.  However, I still needed more money before I could open the restaurant and so I went to the Hogar to look for help. By chance, Jil Hellmann was visiting the same day; she kindly asked me to tell her my story and that is how she became interested in helping me. Thanks to her I was able to bring the last pieces together and open a small restaurant that would become big, eventually.

On September 5th 2009, thanks to the help of many people, I opened my small restaurant called Ricotón Marino; this is part of my self-actualization.  A week after the opening I contacted Nilson, an old friend and former patient from the Hogar because I needed a trustworthy assistant in the restaurant.  Three weeks later Nilson joined me and we have been working together since this day.  Things haven’t always been easy in the past weeks but we managed to overcome these difficulties thanks to the love of God.

My Dream

The beginning of my dream has been realized and wishes for other things are more latent.  Nevertheless, one of my dreams is to one day own a house in which I can run my business and get all my siblings to live with me.  We were separated when we were little and I want to unite everyone again under the same roof.  I want to help my siblings to study. Also I hope that one distant day, I will be able to complete secondary school and move on to university to continue my hospitality studies or business administration.

In my Free Time

In my free time I like to rest, think and especially, to visit restaurants that have a style similar to mine.