[Trabajo en Marcha] Primer Grupo Oficial a Cuncani

Si colocan en Google: Cuncani – Perú, encontrarán que la comunidad es conocida como un buen destino para acampar y hacer caminata en las zonas alto-andinas de Cusco. De hecho, Cuncani es un destino hermoso para ello. Sin embargo, la comunidad no necesariamente recibí los beneficios que merece. Esta es la razón por la cual, por el plazo de un año, hemos venido conversando con la comunidad acerca de empezar un circuido de Turismo Vivencial. A pesar que empezamos a planear en enero de este año, el circuito finalmente está listo.

Este 23 y 24 de octubre, esperamos el primer grupo de turistas en la comunidad. A pesar del hecho que turistas de manera individual ya han hecho el circuito, esta es la primera vez que hemos organizado un grupo. Además de todas las actividades interesantes incluidas en el circuito, estas fechas son especiales por la celebración de la siembra de la papa. Este evento importante se llama: Yapuy. La tradición del Yapuy ha sido mantenida desde el tiempo de los Incas y una oportunidad perfecta para apreciar la fortaleza física de los hombres de los Andes.

Saturnina mostrando papas por Miguel Arreátegui
Créditos: Miguel Arreátegui
Señores trabajando en Yapuy, uno saltando por Jorge Carrillo
Créditos: Jorge Carrillo

Pueden encontrar información de este primer grupo, aquí. Si están visitando Cusco en estos días o si tienen amigas y amigos/familiares que van a hacerlo, por favor, comparte esta información.

Este es el inicio de lo que esperamos pueda ser una genuina oportunidad para mejorar la economía de la comunidad y una buena oportunidad de probar que el turismo puede combatir la pobreza siempre y cuando se incluya verdaderamente a la comunidad.

Anuncios

[Trabajo en Marcha] Ajustando el diseño del proyecto

Cada falla es un hito que nos lleva al éxito.

A pesar que estamos contentos con el progreso del proyecto, no todo ha ido como lo habíamos planeado. Es importante ser flexibles en ajustar el diseño del proyecto y eso lo hemos aprendido a través de las lecciones del trabajo de campo. Nuestro proyecto de FotoVoz* con niños y niñas de Cuncani es un ejemplo perfecto. En este blog, quisiera compartir con ustedes algunas lecciones que hemos aprendido con el proyecto FotoVoz.

Lección Nº1: Buscando un horario ideal para enseñar a las niñas y niños cómo usar el equipo. 

Photovoice Nexos

Es necesario encontrar un tiempo y espacio ideales para enseñarles a los niños cómo usar la cámara. El plan original consistía en que el coordinador debía visitar la escuela una vez a la semana y enseñarles a los niños y niñas. Sin embargo, debido a la huelga de profesores en la región de Cusco, que duró más de dos meses, no pudimos llevar a cabo nuestro plan original. Bajo estas circunstancias, fue difícil programa nuevamente el horario porque la comunidad tiene formas muy limitadas para comunicarse (Cuncani no tiene teléfono o servicio de internet). Para arreglar este problema, y asegurar el avance del proyecto, coordinamos un horario en base a la disponibilidad de cada alumno/a para hacer los talleres. También, con ayuda de la comunidad, decidimos llevar a cabo el taller de una hora en el Centro Comunitario.

Lección Nº2: Mayor énfasis en el propósito del proyecto 

Durante los talleres,  hemos enseñado a las niñas y niños a tomar fotografías de sus comidas durante un periodo de una semana. A pesar que los/las estudiantes han puesto en práctica lo aprendido, no han podido tomar fotos de todo lo que comen cada día. Analizando la situación hemos visto que es necesario explicar el proyecto de manera más extendida a las madres y padres de familia para que ellos puedan, si están interesados/as, aportar al éxito del proyecto. Fue claro que necesitamos explicar con más detalles y pedir su ayuda. Dedicaremos más tiempo a este aspecto.

Lección Nº3: Proceso de selección de los/as participantes

Empezar un proyecto requiere también flexibilidad, pero nos dimos cuenta que quizá hemos sido demasiado flexibles.  Hemos trabajado con niñas y niños de 7 a 11 años. Cada uno de ellos ha estado interest en el uso de la cámara pero en la práctica, no todos podían hacerlo cómo se debía.  Por ello, hemos decidido enfocarnos en 5to grado, quienes tienen algunas habilidades más desarrolladas para poder usar la cámara. Al mismo tiempo, trabajar con un pequeño número de niños y niñas ( hay 9 niñas y niños en el 5to grado) nos permite completar el proyecto de manera menos difícil en el tiempo planificado, involucrando de manera correcta a las niñas y niños interesados.

Basado en los retos del diseño original del proyecto, hemos podido ajustar su diseño. Es un proceso de aprendizaje, pero una parte muy buena como Gerente de Proyectos de NC, es que tengo la posibilidad de hacer las modificaciones que son necesarias. Con la responsabilidad de llevar a cabo el proyecto, y tengo la experiencia de primera mano desde el trabajo de campo. Pienso que un buen trabajado de campo es alguien que aprende de sus errores, para poder mejorar la situación que muchas veces cambia constantemente. Nuestro proyecto de FotoVoz es un Proceso En Marcha y estamos realizando los ajustes necesarios para encontrar el mejor método que puede ser ajustado en Cuncani. A pesar de todos los restos, creemos que este proyecto tiene el potencial de ayudar a medir el nivel de nutrición de la comunidad, mientras establece una mejor relación de trabajo con las personas involucradas.

 

* NC usa FotoVoz como un indicador adicional para conocer el nivel de nutrición de la comunidad. El objetivo de este proyecto es capturar a través de una fotografía que come cada familia diariamente.

[Trabajo En Marcha] Nueva iniciativa: El jabón viajero

Hace unas semanas, tuve una conversación muy interesante con nuestra ex-pasante noruega, Madeline Moe, acerca de su simple pero buena iniciativa llamada:  El jabón viajero. El objetivo es conectar a los niños de Cuncani con los niños de Oslo (Noruega) mediante un intercambio internacional de jabones hechos a mano. Entre los beneficios de este iniciativa, me gustaría compartir cuatro ventajas en esta publicación:

1: Aumenta el nivel de higiene en la comunidad

 Kenji lavándose las manos con niñosEl gran beneficio de esta iniciativa es que permite que los niños y niñas usen jabones para lavar sus manos, lo cual es muy importante para la mejora de la higiene. En nuestra sociedad actual, tomamos el jabón como un producto básico sin prestar mucha atención. Sin embargo, el uso del jabón tiene un efecto significativo en mejorar la higiene, especialmente en Cuncani. Por ejemplo, de acuerdo con la “Water and Sanitation Indicators Measurements Guide (Guía de Medidas de Indicadores de Agua y Saneaminto)” de USAID, un mejor comportamiento de higiene puede disminuir la exposición de patógenos, lo que conduce a la reducción de enfermedades diarreicas y parásitos intestinales. Al mismo tiempo, puede aumentar la absorción de nutrientes y mejorar la resistencia a las enfermedades. Uno de los indicadores en la medición del nivel de higiene en la guía es  ‘el porcentaje del comportamiento adecuado de lavado de manos’. Por lo tanto, esta iniciativa tiene potencial para estimular a los niños en el hábito de lavarse sus manos y asignar el tiempo suficiente para enseñar técnicas adecuadas de lavado de manos para niños en Cuncani y en Oslo, a través de actividades de aprendizaje-acción que pueden tener un impacto determinante en mejorar la salud general. entre ellos.

2: Promueve el intercambio intercultural entre los niños y niñas.

Esta actividad también facilita las interacciones internacionales entre los niños de Oslo y los niños de Cuncani. Dos grupos de niños tendrán la misma oportunidad de aprender sobre la otra cultura a través de una actividad divertida. Este tipo de interacción cultural es mutuamente beneficioso para ambos grupos, ya que les permite entender y respetar las similitudes y diferencias entre ellos, y ampliar sus conocimientos y perspectivas. Los niños  y niñas de Oslo pueden aprender acerca de la comunidad en una remota comunidad andina, mientras que los estudiantes de Cuncani tendrán la oportunidad de ver la vida de los niños y niñas en el norte de Europa, algo que nunca antes habían visto. Su abundante curiosidad puede orientarse hacia el aprendizaje de diferentes razas, prácticas, historia, geografía o alimentos a través de las interacciones con otros niños de su misma edad.

3: Demostrar la comunidad a través de su propia voz

Esta iniciativa no es solo viaje a través del jabón, sino también un viaje a través de la voz de los niños. Hemos acordado crear jabones que son únicos para su comunidad. Por ejemplo, una de las ideas era hacer un jabón con la mezcla de las plantas locales disponibles, hierbas o flores. También estamos pensando en hacer un video de niños y niñas explicando su producto hecho a mano y la relación con su comunidad. Esto es especialmente importante para los niños en Cuncani porque las niñas y niños a menudo carecen de las oportunidades de presentar o expresar su comunidad a otros debido a su severo aislamiento. ¿Cómo es tu comunidad? Que haces todos los dias ¿Cuáles son las cosas que te gustan de tu comunidad? Estas preguntas sencillas pueden ser muy importantes para que los niños  y niñas peruanas y noruegas reflexionen sobre su comunidad y reevalúen sus valores en su vida.

4: Diversión y emoción a través del arte y actividad artesanal

Children in Cuncani

Por último, pero no menos importante, a los niños y niñas les encanta trabajar en proyectos artísticos y manuales. Tiene el beneficio de mejorar la imaginación y habilidades artísticas de los niños y niñas mientras pueden pasar tiempo divertido. Dependiendo de sus formas, ingredientes o colores, una simple fabricación de jabón puede ser un gran proceso de fabricación artesanal para las niñas y niños para fortalecer su creatividad. Además, al intercambiar el jabón hecho a mano, los niños y niñas no sólo ganan el logro de hacer su jabón original, sino también, pueden disfrutar de la emoción de recibir un regalo de otros de diferentes culturas. Desde mi punto de vista, uno de los elementos más importantes de la iniciativa con los niños y niñas es apelar a que ellos se comprometan con la actividad. Creo que este ‘jabón viajero’ ha satisfecho claramente este requisito.

Este es solo un primer paso de planificación de esta nueva iniciativa. Todavía hay muchos pasos que necesitamos definir para organizar más en detalle los procesos de logística, el horario, los indicadores, etc. Esperamos poder desarrollar la iniciativa de una manera atractiva que contribuya a que los niños y niñas tengan un mejor comportamiento de higiene, mientras aprenden acerca de una cultura diferente.

[Visitors] Community Life at 4000 Metres: a Sociologist’s Experience.

By Dave Holmes

The village of Cuncani, which is four hours to the north-east of Cusco, was once the centre of the Incan Empire. We were here to support the NGO Nexos Comunitarios (NC) and understand how remote Cuncani is by hiking the paths linking it to larger towns. First impressions are of a rustic settlement with several houses dotted along the floor of a beautiful highland valley. A school, which is one of the most recently-built buildings, is found right at the beginning of the village where the road ends. The inhabitants of the community wear brightly coloured hats and tunics. We were greeted by Saturnina who is the local coordinator for NC.

NC has been operating in Cuncani since 2013, working alongside locals on various projects to support the community. Currently as part of the Sustainable Homes project, they are implementing composting toilets, a greenhouse and a chicken coop. As well as these projects, the village has become more connected to the national network, with partial electricity in the last decade, telecommunication services and the previously mentioned school are all key examples of development in the region.

Despite these changes, Cuncani is still very isolated. There is only one track connecting it to the nearest settlement Lares, which has a medical post, hot springs and other amenities. Many children who attend secondary school have to walk to and stay in other towns from Monday to Friday and return to Cuncani over rough and mountainous terrain for the weekends. It is not only the students who have arduous days, any kind of health or municipal issues have to be done elsewhere too. When the only regular transport is once a week on market day, opportunities to use regional services are severely limited and walking is the most common way to get from A to B.

This is where our trip’s goal becomes clearer. Our aim was to hike to Urubamba, the nearest moderately sized town, and thus truly understand the effort involved and experience what locals have to do many times a year. Our journey on foot began from the end of the road to Cuncani, going over a 4800 metres pass on the way. We had the help of pack llamas and planned to stay the night after crossing the highest point.

The route is a delight to the eyes, the variety of fauna and flora is truly incredible and this is without even mentioning the sweeping views of the Andes. From rivers winding down valleys where llamas and alpaca graze on the lush grass to lofty glacial mountains with huge birds circling the peaks, the experience is truly a feast for the senses. We passed beautiful mountain lakes, high wooded slopes and stunning valley meadows with trout filled rivers meandering through boulder fields and trees. However, all this beauty did not distract us from the effort involved.

Climbing up and over a pass is always strenuous. When the air gets thinner, it becomes very hard work due to shortness of breath, headaches and nausea. Even with the help of llamas and not carrying full packs, our progress was slow and cumbersome. This was partly to be expected as we were not as acclimatized as the locals but it still surprised me that what took us 2 days, the locals could do in just a few hours of fast walking. They were extremely agile over the ground and carried heavy loads with no modern rucksacks or footwear, just a cloth tied over their shoulders and sandals on their feet.

During the walk I had some time to get to know the residents of Cuncani and I was impressed with their friendliness. They were quick to help and understood our needs for breaks, photos and questions. One person I spoke to helped me understand how the community operates and gave me a little insight into their lives. I learnt about issues facing the community, its form of governance and family customs. The time I shared with them has left a strong memory and I know I will return to build upon this connection and experience their home and lives once more.

If you want to support NC efforts, please consider making a donation to the Sustainable Homes Project and follow their work on social media.

[Work in Progress] First Official Group Trip to Cuncani!

Credits: Kenji Misawa

If you google Cuncani-Peru, you will find out that the community is recognized as a good destination for camp and to do trails in the High-Andes in Cusco. Indeed, Cuncani is a beautiful destination for it. However, Cuncani does not receive the benefits they deserve. This is the reason that for a year, we have been talking to some families of the community on whether or not to start an Experiential Tourist Circuit . Although, we were began the planning in January we decided to work with them and support them in the implementation of their own Experiential Tourism circuit and it is finally ready!

This October 23rd and 24th, we expect to have a small group of tourists visiting the community. Despite the fact, that individual tourists have done the tour already, this is the first time we are organizing a group trip to the community. Besides all the interesting activities included in the circuit, these dates are special as well, as it will be the celebration of the “Siembra” season of the potato! This important event is called: Yapuy. The tradition of Yapuy has been maintained since the time of the Incas . Yapuy is an opportunity to appreciate the physical strength of the Andean men.

Saturnina mostrando papas por Miguel Arreátegui
Credits: Miguel Arreátegui
Señores trabajando en Yapuy, uno saltando por Jorge Carrillo
Credits: Jorge Carrillo

You can find information of this first group trip to Cuncani, here (in Spanish). If you are visiting Cusco these days or if you have friends/family that are, feel free to share it.

This is the beginning of what we expect to be a genuine opportunity for the economy of the community of Cuncani and a good opportunity to prove that tourism is good to combat poverty only when local communities are really included.

 

Spare change… It can change the world!

Kenji Misawa (NC Project Coordinator)

If you were to ask to draw a mind mapping of how non-profit organizations work, what ideas would come up instantly? Perhaps, you would think about concepts such as humanitarian aid, grassroots, local community, interculturality. Probably, the word ‘money’ would not appear in your drawing.

We often disconnect the idea of ‘money’ from non-profit organizations, at least when we compare them with businesses. However, without adequate financial resources for the projects, they  could not be successful even with lots of good intentions or compassion. Thus, while dedicating multitude efforts in coordinating the projects with our local partners, NC also spends the same amount of work in generating and raising funds to support our initiatives and our organization.

Since its creation, NC covers all operational expenses and as much as possible of the projects expenses with  the fees receive from participants of our programs. Nonetheless, despite all changes we made since we started working in Cuncani, for example:  reducing the number of our staff in half, our operational expenses have increased tremendously. In comparison to our work from 2008-2013, one day transportation to our community partners is now 40 times more expensive than before. Yes, 40 times more expensive.

Before Cuncani, we were able to cover all aspects of NC institutional expenses and all projects ones with the fees we receive from the programs. Since Cuncani, donations have have been crucial to accomplish our goals. These donations have been used, exclusively, for the projects (salaries and all overheads are not covered by them). Although it has been challenging, we cannot be more grateful for all the donations we have received. For example, after the floods in Piura, we successfully raised more than US$4,000  to support the victims by providing first aid packages and food, with your donations, we were able to successfully implement the Lunch Program in Cuncani! Do you know that in few opportunities, government officers have asked us for help to reach the community? They did not have the money to pay for their own transportation.

Currently, we are finishing the details of another initiative that will allow us to be able, again, to cover all of our projects expenses and support our organization as well. Nevertheless, for now, we still need your support. As you know we are currently raising money for our Sustainable Homes in Cuncani project and the goal is US$ 5,000. Promoting this campaign has not been an easy task but, at the same time, we are convinced that our partners from Cuncani, especially their children, deserve all of our efforts and your donations as well. We know that one of our roles is to  to connect people outside the community to the reality in Cuncani and look for support so they, specially the children, can have real opportunities for their lives.

If we reach the targeted amount for this campaign, we will be able to buy all the materials needed to implement the three technologies for each of our partners within the community: a greenhouse, a chicken coop and a composting toilet.  All donations will exclusively be used to purchase the materials for them. The materials include roofs, windows, doors, toilet seats, bags of cement, wood planks, plastic for the greenhouse roof and others. Not all materials are extremely expensive. For example, a $8 donation would help us buy 1 of the 2 bags of cement for the composting toilet. Would you consider making exchanging a beer this week for a $8 donation to help reach our goal? A composting toilet would help them to have a better hygiene, hence, less parasites and that means, better chances to combat malnutrition! You don’t have US$8, what about US$2? That amount of money would allow us to buy the nails to build a chicken coop for one family! Your generosity would help NC extensively to implement life transforming projects which ultimately support the vulnerable children in the community and improve their health standards.

Unfortunately, significant inequality still exists in today’s world. The family you are part of and the place you are born in are decisive to determine your future opportunities. Have you ever imaged to be born in a beautiful but isolated community like Cuncani? This is my second time in Peru and since my first, I  realized how privileged I am. I’m able to receive proper education, live a healthy life and have the freedom to pursue my career aligned with my interests. But this privileges should not be privileges anymore, every child in the world should have equal opportunities for their lives. Please, help us so we can continue with our work in Cuncani. I cannot lie to you, it is hard to work there but I love to be there, to work in this country, to play with the kids, and that’s more than enough for me to do some shameless work promotion, to ask you to make a donation for our project.

 

 

Applying the SDGs in a remote Andean community

Kenji Misawa, NC Project Coordinator

During my undergraduate studies in international development, our classes often focused upon understanding the approaches used in the international community to confront the problem of on-going global poverty. In 2015, world leaders assembled at the United Nations and executed the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The SDG’s represent a global commitment by the international community to end poverty and to improve the lives of people in a sustainable manner for future generations. But how does this universal call to action fit into the context of a small community like Cuncani?

The SDG consists of 17 goals and 169 targets. Although the SDGs capture problems on a global scale, civil societies such as NC have a role to play in meeting the targets of the SDGs. Without the work of civil societies in promoting development at the community level, SDGs will never be realized. In the case of Cuncani, we see rampant malnutrition amongst children despite its abundant beauty and natural wonder.

If malnutrition rates in Cuncani do not improve by 2030, it implies that the SDGs failed to achieve their target of ending all forms of malnutrition in the world. Therefore, despite the small act of addressing malnutrition rates in Cuncani, our efforts to improve the health status of such a small community is contributing to the international community’s goals. In this article, I will discuss NC’s current project in Cuncani and its relationship with SDG targets.

Credits: Miguel Arreátegui Rodríguez

Since 2017, NC has initiated the Sustainable Homes in Cuncani (SHC) project which provides each household with a 1) greenhouse 2) chicken coop and 3) ecological toilet in an attempt to better nutrition, sanitation, and environmental health. First, the implementation of a greenhouse and a chicken coop significantly helps the community to achieve SDG2: zero hunger. Due to its exceedingly high altitude (4000m), the variation of the available vegetables in the community is limited. Its isolated location makes it difficult for families to purchase food from other communities. A lack of regular intake of various nutrients causes vulnerable children in Cuncani to suffer from health problems such as malnutrition, stunting and anemia. The construction of a greenhouse and chicken coop will ultimately allow indigenous families to have greater access to different types of vegetables and animal proteins. This increase in access to a variety of foods will help the community to reach the SDG target of ending all forms of malnutrition and stunting in children under the age of five. At the same time, such efforts also support the UN’s target, outlined in the SDG’s to further resilient agriculture practices that increase food productivity.

The construction of an ecological toilet is related to SDG6: clean water and sanitation of the community. By replacing the current latrine, which pollutes the ground water and the land of the community, the ecological toilet would decrease the level of water contamination. At the same time, the new toilet has the capacity to properly compost human waste, eliminating any pathogens and viruses, converting it to nutrient-rich fertilizers for farming, keeping the local land intact. This approach corresponds with SDG6’s target of improving water quality, reducing pollution, and increasing the level of sanitation and hygiene.

Furthermore, unlike the former NC Lunch Program, this new initiative of  SHC project helps to achieve SDG11: sustainable cities and communities. Until 2016, NC visited the community every Monday to provide enough food for the week to feed the children at school. Although local families appreciated this initiative and it had a positive impact upon the health status of the children, the community was dependent on NC and lacked sustainability. In other words, without the financial support of NC, the community was not able to continue the program. To overcome this challenge, NC developed the SHC project which aims to raise the level of nutrition for future generations in a way that is self-reliant. Unlike the former Lunch Program, the creation of the SHC will improve the health standards of households while allowing families to enjoy such benefits without NC involvement in the future.

It is amazing to think that a single project of an NGO in a small community still counts as a step in achieving SDG2, SDG6, and SDG11. A big accomplishment is an aggregation of the small successes. Meanwhile, there are other important targets of SDGs in Cuncani that have been left out, for now, from NC projects. In the next series of blog posts, I look forward to discussing the relationships between Cuncani, NC and other SDGs in more detail (particularly SDG13: Climate Action, SDG9: Industry, Innovation, and Infrastructure, and SDG17: Partnerships for the goals).