Yesterday we traveled to a small rural village outside the town of Cusco. We walked up a hill lined with small little shacks that had no windows , no access to water, and were vey small. The homes of Pumamarca at one time were all just like these decrepit shelters. The community of Pumamara had no hope at one time because of lack of resources. Malnutrition, alcoholism, domestic violence, and poverty were a part of the rural Peruvian’s life. Then something amazing haapened. A nonprofit group called, Peru’s Challenge, built relationships with members in the community.
Once trust was established, the founders of Peru’s Challenge asked the community what they needed and wanted to improve the quality of life for the members of the community. This was important to make sure the community would own it and be able to sustain it. The community members rallied and worked together to create sturdier houses with windows, running water, separate rooms, and plumbing for toilets with Peru’s Challenge’s resources and support.
After phase one was complete, the community came together to figure out what other resources were needed. They wanted healthy food sources In the community. Land was available to the people of Pumamarca, but they needed green houses to keep the animals from eating the food. Once again the community worked together to build green houses for food and flowers. The food went to families first but then the extra food and flowers would be taken to Cusco city to sell. Before the green houses were built, the people only made about $3 a month. But now, the community members bring home over $60 a month and they have healthy food for their family.
Next the community built a school for the children of Pumamarca. Many children did not go to school at all while others would walk alone for two hours to get to the school. When the children arrived late, dirty, tired, and hungry as they had no breakfast, the schools turned them away and they were not allowed access to water or food. It is heartbreaking that these brave children were not welcomed with open arms. The department of education did not believe the children in Pumamarca needed a school so it was a struggle to get permission. Perserverance paid off… The Pumamarca school is now seven years old and more and more students continue to attend!
The women of the village were also trained how to use their skills to create textiles and metal work such as jewelry. They were given a space to sell their wares and learned how to run their business. Another positive … Domestic abuse and alcoholism is no longer an issue in the community.
The old adage fits here… If you give someone who is hungry a fish, they eat for a day. If you teach them how to fish, they will eat for a lifetime. Peru’s Challenge is empowering the people of rural Peru how to sustain a better quality of life for generations to come.