Category Archives: Team Peru (Cusco, Peru)

Whoa, Peru. Whoa.

The Scoop

So it’s officially been almost two weeks that I’ve been here in the Sacred Valley of Peru… and I can’t begin to describe how much this experience has already blown my mind.  Rolling hills and snow-capped mountains, the warm welcome of local villagers, a newfound friendship with my fellow MIIS students; I could have never predicted the full glory of all of these things.

While I could probably already write an entire manuscript detailing all of the trials and tribulations of our journey thus far, I’ll just stick with a few highlights to share what a whirlwind it’s been:

  • The Bubble Lady– Danielle busts out some bubble time for the kids of Ccachin.  Awe and wonder ensue.
  • A “thank you” ceremony for Team Peru– The Major of Ccachin (the tiny town where Team Peru will build two new greenhouses this summer), along with the faculty and students of the local primary and secondary schools present traditional dances, music, and a delicious bonfire in our honor.
  • Carmel Highschool win– The ladies from Carmel High gather ’round a bonfire to celebrate their experience in Peru.  We were so lucky to have them!
  • Kung Fu Brian–  Brian teaches martial art moves to the kids of Ccachin.
  • Apples to Apples: Battle to the Death– The whole fam gathered ’round the dinner table for an epic game, complete with lots of Gato Negro drinking (boxed red wine.  From Chile.  Don’t hate.)
  • A hike around the block– No big deal, our neighborhood backdrop scenery is the Andes.
  • Workin’ the greenhouse– The primary school kids of Pampacoral show us how it’s done.
  • Snickers break– Not sure why, but since we’ve been here everybody’s craving sugar…. all the time.

The Projects

As a newly-initiated member of Team Peru (more formally and legit-ly monikered The Andean Alliance for Sustainable Development), I came down to South America in hopes of developing (along with my colleague and fellow MPA student Danielle Johnson) a Community Savings program for each of three local women’s textile associations.  But there’s so much going on in addition to our wee little project:  The Greenhouse Team, The NGO Network Team, The Women’s Empowerment team… not to mention the internal Organizational Development team for The Andean Alliance itself.

Each of us is a part-time member of at least one or two teams aside from our primary, and this definitely gives me flashbacks (good ones, I swear) to the Advanced Nonprofit seminar all over again.  Team meetings transform into mega mind melds.  You’re into teaching kids’ how to harvest veggies from the greenhouse for a well-balanced lunch AND want to help local organizations build a collaboration platform?  No worries!  Just hang with Team Peru and you can make it happen.  And then some.

I can’t wait to find out what the rest of the summer has in store… this is going to be the adventure of a lifetime.

Keep up with us on Facebook and on the blog!

A Mix of New and Old

The other day the agriculture team visited Pampacorral where Team Peru built a greenhouse last summer. Our visit was part of this summer’s project to see our technician, Ruben’s curriculum implementation in action. The school director, Freddie, showed us a complementary project that the municipality recently undertook to augment the school’s effort to grow more vegetables. The picture above depicts a traditional growing technology. A taut black colored net stretches above the vegetables for warmth and protection. This technology is utilized to enable vegetable cultivation in areas prone to a common high altitude growing challenge, night frost.

Even with the nets, the vegetables are exposed to a fair degree of cold, lending to a much slower, smaller scale, and labor-intensive growing process compared to greenhouse cultivation. However, in tandem with the greenhouses the municipality backed project represents yet another option for increasing the quantity of nutrient rich vegetables grown and ultimately consumed by students.

Once again, the knowledge and resourcefulness demonstrated by these communities impressed me. Prior to the more recently incorporation of greenhouse technology in the region, this older method harnesses similar properties to achieve the same goal: the ability to grow a more nutritious food source.

While I was reflecting on the awesome fusion of older and newer techniques to meet Pampacorral’s need, Freddie explained to us the importance of a non-governmental run project like our greenhouse. He reiterated a sincere appreciation for the municipality backed growing assistance. But, he explained that it took months to receive the promised aid. Bureaucratic paper battles over a missed signature detained the delivery of seeds and other supplies for an extended period. Regardless of certain challenges, it was promising to see a community receiving the means to combat one of their most pressing needs from both the local municipality and a local NGO.   ~Kat

Bridging Cultures in the Sacred Valley of Peru

The opportunity to go work in the Sacred Valley of Peru with the Andean Alliance and the Becky Fund was unexpected and extremely exciting. In just a few short weeks, I was subletting my apartment, storing extra furniture, and packing for the mountains. When I was asked to write about my expectations for the trip, my initial reaction was somewhat anxious and nervous. During the course of my education at the Monterey Institute, I have had the opportunity to participate in many organizations as a consultant. However, in each of these opportunities, I had the safety net of a professor and professional for quality control, reassurance, and instant feedback. This summer is to be my first completely autonomous project. Upon further reflection, I realized that I am surrounded by 18 other students, each of whom bring a wide range of experiences, expertise, and knowledge to the table. Although my colleague and I have been given the creative freedom to carry out our project, we are doing so with the love and support of a new found family. There is nothing more uplifting and motivating than that.

Upon our arrival in Cusco, I laughed at how different this summer will be compared to the previous, when I worked in the heat of Alabama during the Deep Water Horizon Spill as part of the avian rehabilitation crew. Now, some 11,000 feet above sea level, I wear many layers to protect from the south hemisphere’s winter cold and I listen to the people to know how I can help them.

My first opportunity to do this came shortly after my arrival in Peru after a four-hour bus ride through the windy, mountain roads to the small, indigenous community of Ccachin.

A crew of excited, pink faced and snotty nosed 5 year olds, all dressed in the traditional garb of the Andean Indigenous community greeted our team. Hand in hand we walked through a giant soccer field where one hundred more children anxiously awaited our arrival. They ranged from 3-11 years old, until the secondary school students, who are 12-17 years of age, later joined us. This was our reception celebration, a cultural exchange chalk full of native dances, poetry, songs, and speeches of gratitude for what Aaron, The Becky Fund, and The Andean Alliance were doing for the community.

The event started with a bridging of cultures by means that I felt were most appropriate: Bubbles. When we heard we had time to play before the event, I invited a few children to join me for a gift; it was only nanoseconds before all 150 students were surrounding me with anticipation and curiosity as to what I would pull out of my bag. I have been told that many of them had probably never experienced bubbles, and I can’t express how grateful I am to have participated in this simple joy that children, around the world, share. The next thirty minutes were full of giggles, screams of joy, lessons on how to blow the most bubbles, throwing hats to pop the bubbles carried high above by the wind, and seemingly endless excitement. The children made short order of the two containers of bubbles I brought, but the long-lasting memories we created together, I will never forget.

After a colorful reception, we were all touch by the sincerity of the Mayor of Lares, when he took a moment to thank each of us personally for our contribution to the community and to express his excitement for our partnership in the future.

The next day, after an extremely productive meeting with the entire Team Peru group, we began moving the forty-pound bricks from the school, where they were made, down to the garden where the green houses are to be constructed. An assembly line of over forty people covering a few hundred yards between the two areas passed almost 500 bricks in a matter of hours. Tired as we were, caked in dirt and mud, not a single person complained of bruises on their forearms or the weakness of their legs. Together, we worked as a team and made a huge contribution to the final product. We finished the weekend by moving two truckloads of heavy rocks and one hundred more bricks. Not everyone is cut out for heavy lifting and manual labor, but each of us involved in the work this weekend is proud to say we worked hard, we worked long, and we contributed to the nutritional development of the Ccachin region. ~Danielle Johnson

originally posted on WIP Talk

Carmel High School’s Peru Project… A Success!!!

Wow… what a week it has been. After two trips to the community of Ccachin, I think
it is safe to say that quite a lot has been accomplished. While the most tangible
accomplishment is certainly the groundbreaking of two new greenhouses, it seems
as though many of the intangibles have been just as impressive. For example, the
bond that instantly formed between the students of Carmel High and Ccachin may
turn out being just as sustainable as the actual greenhouse project. This, along
with working together to carry bricks and rocks, shoveling, laughing, dancing and
singing, I think the only way it could have gone better is if we would have had
more time to spend together in the community. While leaving was emotional for
everybody, the good news is that we are already brainstorming for next summer’s

Thank you Carmel High for being such an integral part of our project in Ccachin. We
had so much fun working with and getting to know you all. All of us with Team Peru
and the Andean Alliance are super excited to see where this road is going to take us,
and we’re certainly looking forward to the next “Peru Project” experience! ~Adam

Peru’s glaciers have receded by 20% over the past 30 years

The view flying into Cusco.

I recently read a staggering statistic about climate change in Peru that has had a major impact on my time here: Peru’s glaciers have receded by 20% over the past 30 years. This is especially alarming since Peru is home to 70% of the world’s tropical glaciers.  Beyond the numbers, the effects of Climate Change are felt deeply by various indigenous groups in the Andes.  These marginalized communities are rarely considered or included in the discussion regarding combating climate change. The remote indigenous communities often reside hours from basic social services and many of the communities in the Andean highlands rely on subsistence farming, earning less than $1 a day. These resourceful people learned to live in harmony with the land and rely on the glaciers as their primary source of water. While living in isolation for centuries, they revere these glaciers, which they refer to as Apus, spirit of the mountain. Climate change threatens the very survival of these communities and the preservation of their vibrant cultural heritage. In recent years the excessive melting has resulted in failed crops, low crop yield, devastating floods and landslides. This past weekend our team was in the community of Pampacoral where one of our greenhouses is located. Temporary shelters provided by Plan International were peppered around the community and provide shelter after a recent landslide. a small fix to a large.  Thankfully, the central government of Peru is beginning to take climate change seriously.  The local newspaper in Cusco, El Diario del Cusco, reports that a new glacier monitoring station has recently been installed 5,180 meters above sea level in the Quisoqiopina mountain range close to Cusco. This monitoring station will measure the effects of climate change on the remaining glaciers and the data collected will help to evaluate the pace of the glacier melt. Researchers hope to better inform national mitigation and adaptation plans with the data collected. ~tina

Building relationships: Team Peru & Carmel High

Well Team Peru and Carmel High School have certainly hit the ground running. It’s
been one week since their arrival and we’ve been having a blast! Over the past six
months this group of 15 students from CHS raised $6,000 to sponsor a greenhouse
in Ccachin, and now they are here in Peru to help make it happen! They’ve spent
their first week getting accustomed to the Peruvian culture, foods, and especially
the altitude. We went to Macchu Pichu, visited some of the historical sites around
Cusco, and explored all kinds of foods and restaurants. Now that most of the
touristy stuff is out of the way, its time for them to get down to business and get
some dirt under their fingernails!

Check back soon to hear about our first trip out to Ccachin… ~Adam

Back in the Sacred Valley

Aaron and Adam meeting up with Professor Alfredo Ortiz in Lima

Just got to Cusco and I couldn’t be more thrilled about it. We finally graduated and
got our masters degree, so now we can really focus on developing our organization
this summer and after. Its pretty crazy to think about what we are able to
accomplish out here in Peru while simultaneously juggling a full graduate school
experience… hopefully that’s a good sign for what’s to come next.

I have a good feeling about this summer. We’ve got the high school students coming
out to volunteer for two weeks and help construct the greenhouse that they raised
over $6,000 for, we’ve got a team of 5 MBA students coming down to help us figure
out the best way for our organization to generate revenue, and we’ve got a total of
15 graduate (or recent graduate) students coming to work on greenhouse projects,
an NGO network, gender empowerment, and whatever else comes our way!

We’re going to do our best to document what we do via blog, video, and other types
of social media, so if you’re reading this right now, stay posted for what should be an
incredible and impactful few months! ~Adam

Meet Elma

During this summer in the Sacred Valley of Peru, I will work on a project dedicated to creating an NGO network in this region to facilitate fruitful collaboration and more efficient allocation of resources in this vast territory. I am very excited to get to work with a group as driven and positively charming as Team Peru! I feel ready to apply what has so far resonated best with me in my development studies – to listen and find ways to apply what I hear to facilitate improvement. The NGO network project, being of a pilot nature, is particularly exciting, as there is, literally, a world to discover. I am sure that what we make of it will bring tangible benefits to the very people all the organizations individually are aiming to assist.

On the sideline, I also hope to look into how rural-urban migration might be affecting the Sacred Valley region, which I am aware is already burdened by an aging population. Most of all, however, I hope to form meaningful relationships that would enrich the lives of everybody involved. ~ Elma

Elma Paulauskaite holds an undergraduate degree in Psychology from the Vytautas Magnus University in her native Lithuania. She has educational experiences, ranging from two weeks to six years, in Macedonia, Kosovo, Portugal and the U.S, where she is currently pursuing an MA in International Development Policy at the Monterey Institute of International Studies. Her interest in policy and development grew gradually from my psychology studies focused on social psychology and how individuals are affected by their immediate environments. She hopes to keep this focus on the individual in any a future development endeavors.