Hello Friends and Family,
Los saludamos del Valle Sagrado de Los Incas! Ever since landing in Cusco on the 1st of September we have been exploring the valley. First during our orientation, then in Potato Park or Parque de la Papa, and now in Urubamba as we settle into our homes here.
All the students have been getting used to a new routine with placements most mornings, Spanish classes in the afternoons, and time at meals and on the weekends with their homestay families. As instructors we wanted to give you a breakdown of what each of the students are doing. You probably have heard from them already but we’d like you all to know what they are up to especially during their internships.
Ann Yancey or ANITA is at T’ika
T’ika is an association of women weavers and focuses on sustainable community development using ancestral practices. The association is currently made up of 9 women, who have learned this work at home from a very young age. The organization is made up of enthusiastic women who are eager to share their knowledge and also learn new skills to support their work. Here, service opportunities for Ann Yancey might include supporting publicity, social media, and general administrative needs. Tasks may include an inventory of the entire store, developing cost analysis systems, supporting when tourists come to the association for interpretation or simply rehearsing the presentation with the women in English, technology training for social media and publicity in general.
*We visited T’ika as a group on Monday morning to take part in a very simple weaving workshop. The simplest thing that the women make are bracelets so we tried our hand at it and it was a good time and super meditative. We will try to go to as many of the placement sites as a group as we possibly can during our time in Urubamba.
Waideen at Awamaki
Awamaki is another weaving association that even has a presence in the United States. Awamaki is a weaving cooperative that works with women in business training, skill development, and access to global markets. Awamaki is focused on empowering Andean women to run their own businesses by investing in skills training, leadership development, and providing broader markets for women to promote their products. Founded in 2009, Awamaki began working with women weaving cooperatives in the Sacred Valley region specifically on economic development initiatives, but has since expanded to focus on the interconnected issues of health, education, and sustainability. Here Waideen is going to be working mostly out of the Sales department and will also focus some of her time in Marketing and Communication.
Jason and Yong Quan at Eco Huella Farm
Jason and Yong Quan were the most excited in the group to get their hands dirty and learn about farm practices here in the Sacred Valley. This is why we paired them up with Eco Huella. Eco Huella is a family farm owned and run by Julio and Yessica (brother and sister). Here, expert Andean farmers put into practice traditional agricultural techniques in order to preserve and share that knowledge with local farmers and nearby communities. On the farm they plant and harvest products for restaurants and for personal consumption using andean practices. The farm is also a research and educational center, bringing university students and experiential education participants to study farming methods and learn about traditional practices, sustainability, and the challenges that farmers face in the region. Eco Huella practices agroecology in harmony with social, economic, and agricultural practices in the region. Jason and Yong Quan will be working on maintaining the farm and also learning about agricultural practices like planting, weeding, harvesting and getting the veggies ready for delivery, making compost, making beds, mixing the soil, and supporting group visits/ educational programs on the farm.
Isabelle and Austen at Canastas Verdes
Canastas Verdes works to foster Community Supported Agriculture in the Sacred Valley through their work with women in the Urubamba community. These women garden and produce organic products to be sold in the central market in Urubamba and in neighboring communities. Canastas Verdes is on a mission to partner with, support and empower the local and indigenous communities in the Sacred Valley by creating fully sustainable and scalable organic farming practices. The organizations wants to transform the Sacred Valley back to ancient and healthy practices in connection and harmony with Mother Earth, Pachamama. Their vision is to connect local wisdom and modern tools. Through rebuilding the land, community outreach, and helping create a market for organically grown vegetables, Cansatas Verdes aims to be a bridge between local communities, expats, and travelers to create a community based on healthy living and valuable friendships. Isabelle and Austen will be working at the different women run farms, supporting marketing or social media, helping at the market stand, or occasionally going to deliver baskets.
Grace at Casita Huarán
You’ve all already heard about Casita Huarán because we spent our first week there together. It is a family-run eco-lodge. It is tucked away in a beautiful spot, with a vibrant agricultural project, excellent home-grown food, and hiking options right outside the back door. The family hosts groups and also works closely with the local community. Each afternoon and on weekends students from the school in Huarán come to take care of the animals, tend to the gardens, and take care of the lodge in general. The family pays the students for this work which helps to support their families and buy them school supplies. Casita Huarán aims to be a sustainable lodge that works in conjunction with the natural setting and the people in the area. Grace will be interacting with the youth at least on Friday afternoons and the other days will be working with Tania to support social media, marketing, and other projects.
Olympia and Victoria at Sacred Valley Health or Ayna Wasi
Sacred Valley Health trains and supports locally-elected community health workers who work in their home communities. Health education efforts center around practical hygiene, such as hand washing and tooth brushing, as well as maternal health education. With headquarters in nearby Ollantaytambo, Sacred Valley Health serves more than a dozen high andean communities. Depending on participant skill-sets and language abilities, Olympia and Victoria may help with administrative support and project coordination. More specifically, service opportunities might include data entry, developing teaching materials, writing blog entries, or assisting with logistics for the wilderness medicine training from U.S. doctors coming in November and pilot project with young adolescent girls launching this month.
Chiamaka in Kuska School
Kuska School offers an educational alternative to the traditional path and offers social services for vulnerable populations. Kuska provides a space of respect, where a child is the protagonist of their own learning, where their rhythms and times are acknowledged, where there is time and space for movement, listening, dialogue, play, and self-knowledge. In Kuska, children experience a wide range of activities where thinking, feeling, and doing are present. This is something that is not found in a traditional school and that is fundamental for the development of all human beings. Chiamaka will be assisting the teachers and providing administrative assistance to the school.
Abi at Niños de Jesús
Niños de Jesús is a private kindergarten and preschool in Urubamba with a social focus. It bases their monthly charges depending on the families economic possibilities. This school accepts children that are not able to enter the public school system because the limitations in terms of availability. Abi will be assisting the teachers and providing administrative assistance to the school. She will provide support to the English teacher, with the teacher who teaches psychomotor skills, development of educational materials and other tasks as they arise.
Claire at Yanapasun and Corazones para el Perú
Claire will be working at two non profits that normally work together in their mission to create more places of learning for vulnerable populations. In Yanapasun Claire will be focused on supporting a physical therapist that works with adults from Urubamba and nearby towns to access affordable therapy. Corazones Para El Perú is a German-founded non-profit association with the goal of sustainably improving living conditions for the indigenous population, especially children. They specifically work with local populations in the areas of health, education, environmental projection, business development, and gender equality. Here Claire will be working with local farmers and supporting the associations activities with local youth on Friday afternoons.
Later students will be able to give you a more detailed update about what they have been involved in during their time at their placements but we hope that for now you know a little more about the work that they are going to be doing for the 11 weeks we are here in Urubamba.
Abrazos a todos!
Raquel, Mónica, y Teto
p.s. The two picture are the views on the way to T’ika.