Team Calca Experience

February 26, 2014

Guest post by Joy Mulhollan, J-Term 2014 Peru Policy Course Participant

Team Peru January 2014 was divided into four groups, studying in either Calca, Lares, Choquecancha, or Suyo. For the Calca group, our goal was to conduct ten surveys per day, so the seven of us divided into two teams. To not run the risk of surveying the same person and to cover as much ground as possible, we organized ourselves through maps and randomization.  On one of our first days we used a satellite image to hand-draw maps of the area, dividing Calca into five quadrants and labeling all the streets, with Chris’ help to identify key landmarks. We also were responsible for completing a site survey. Utilizing a smartphone application and GPS functions for mapping on a group cell phone, we documented businesses, evidence of crime, government and law enforcement presence, and various forms of infrastructure.


Conducting the household survey gave us a unique opportunity to interact with the community. One of my favorite respondents was a man in his 80s.  After we finished his survey, he invited us behind his home to see his garden, where he grabbed his harmonica and performed a short song for us. It was so great to be able to have that experience, and I know it’s something I’ll never forget. Another favorite surveying memory occurred during the first week, when when we were invited by a woman to conduct the survey in her yard. Her two children were running around the yard, and the girl picked flowers and shyly watched us from a distance.  After the survey concluded, we began our post-survey debrief, and by the time we had made it to the end of the street, we turned and saw the little girl was running after us.  She gave us the big, pink flowers she had picked, then turned around and ran back home.

Experiences like these really helped us feel welcome in the Calca community. I personally learned a lot about the Sacred Valley, details of what it’s like to work alongside the AASD, what it’s like to work with interpreters. I even gained professional experience interacting with some Calca government officials.  Although there certainly were some unexpected challenges, every day brought opportunities for learning and improving upon what we had done the day before.


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Our mission is to provide and implement sustainable programs and projects in collaboration with the indigenous people of the Sacred Valley of Perú in an effort to improve their lives and reduce poverty in a culturally sensitive and appropriate manner. Furthermore, we work to support local NGOs with whom we have shared values using the skills and tools we possess.