I have already written an article about my experience with the rural tourism association, which is why I am going to focus solely on the importance of volunteering. Volunteering is a means of doing something about a situation that one sees as undesirable. My advice for those who are interested in volunteering is to focus on the desire to “do something” about a situation, while always keeping in mind that changes do not happen overnight. All coordinators’ work have been magnificent, but the time has come to start a new road with more ambitious goals and the same, if not more extraordinary, projects.
After gathering all the required information and data, I concluded that even though Cuncani has the required infrastructure to have access to water services, there are important cultural and political barriers constraining this. In this regard, the current water treatment method used (chlorination) is not culturally accepted by Cuncani’s members due to the possible health affectations of chlorine as a chemical. As a consequence, there is lack of willingness from community members to properly operate and maintaining their water systems. Furthermore, local authorities are not proper monitoring and guaranteeing the provision of safe water services for this community.
Our group had a chance to visit the primary school and play with the children. Although some of them were wearing old and dirty clothes, they were adorable and beautiful. On the first day of my stay in Cuncani, I was out in the schoolyard, playing with the ball that I had. Later on, one girl joined me. After ten minutes another girl joined. And after that, another boy and his sister… I end up playing with 5 kids for about 2 hours just running around and throwing a ball. Even though I was not able to speak their language (Quechua), I could somehow communicate with them. They are always happy to see new things and the smiles that they had on their faces were priceless. I thought that the kids probably did not have much chance to play with a person in my age (since all the young people leave the community to find work) and I was really happy that I was able to provide some time to them to enjoy and have fun. Also seeing their smiling faces made me really happy. Even though these are very small things, I felt satisfied that I could somehow contribute to the community.
Relationships are the foundation of everything. Until coming to Peru, I never truly understood the importance of something seemingly so innate. I’ve had the pleasure of working in the remote Andean communities of Cuncani and Choquecancha, where the people’s relationships with one another and the land are so powerful they permeate every conversation, every manner of being. Without this understanding, development in these microcosms has no hope for sustainability.
In the 2010 Human Development Report, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the Oxford Poverty & Human Development Initiative (OPHI) published the Multidimensional Poverty Index (MPI). The MPI acknowledges that an individual or community can experience multiple deprivations at the same time, which demonstrates the varying realities of households in a community. Poverty is further contextualized through the MPI than monetary-based measures such as the income gap and the headcount ratio fail to do. While the data collected through these measures is important, the MPI allows us to alter and include indicators that are most relevant to communities in the Andes.