Getting professional and personal growth

By Alice Ebeyer (NC Intern 2016 – McGill University)


“Spending two months in Peru with Nexos Comunitarios has been one of the greatest experiences of my life. Being immersed in a different culture and being able to witness particular traditions and customs was stirring. The organization offers an amazing context to achieve efficient work, but also personal growth. The job itself allows us to further open our minds by seeing, discovering, learning so many new things. Peru is a unique place and working with local people is the best way to experience the country. This internship was the occasion to learn more about primary research and more particularly Participatory Action Research methods. Thus, it has been enriching on a personal and professional level but also on an academic perspective.

International development and development in general is a long and complex process; it needs patience and persistence and this is what I learned at NC by trying to help and making a social impact.

What this internship also taught me is to never give up, because only small groups of people who attempted to change the world actually reached their goals.”

Expanding Knowledge and Making Societal Impact with Nexos Comunitarios

By Mackenzie Vozza , Western University – Alternative Spring Break 2016

#BeTheChange – NC Learning Program

Mackenzie Vozza.jpg

“If I could recommend anything to a university student looking to expand their cultural knowledge and make a significant societal impact, it would be working with Nexos Communitarios. The Nexos staffs not only ensured we had everything we needed pre-departure, but were also constantly in contact with us during our trip to ensure a flawless execution and unforgettable experience.

The project I had the privilege of working on, PhotoVoice, was an amazing initiative designed to change the mindset of children in impoverished areas in order to help them believe they can do anything they set their mind to. Partaking in this project was an eye-opening and wonderful experience as I made friendships and memories that will last a lifetime.”

ASB is the perfect chance to get a life-changing experience

By Monika Volz (Alternative Spring Break 2015) – #BeTheChange

Moniks Volz.jpg

“ASB was the most rewarding, fun, and life changing experience I’ve ever had! I will never forget the amazing memories I made in Peru with all of the wonderful people I became so close with. It opened up my university experience to so many new opportunities and meaningful friendships. Everyone should be able to have an experience like this at least once in their lives, and ASB is the perfect chance! This program is highly organized with incredible projects and wonderful objectives to help people around the world. ASB has an assortment of different objectives such as health and nutrition, community involvement, and education among many. I went to Peru to work with an organization called Nexos Voluntarios (now called Nexos Comunitarios) where I volunteered in many of their projects. I was involved in building a bathroom for a young girl with Cerebral Palsy, volunteering at an orphanage, working with children with disabilities, teaching English, and much more. ASB is also a great program because they carefully choose really great locations and organizations to work with. When I went to Peru, I thought that I would be making a big difference in the world. I do believe that I made a difference while I was there, however, what I wasn’t prepared for was that the people in Peru made an even bigger impact on my own life. I learned so much about compassion and selflessness; everyone around me was always so loving. They taught me to be genuinely kind to everyone and treat everyone with love and respect. They made me realize that we are all connected, even if it’s not by blood. They taught me to be unselfish and to help other people. If everyone in the world would embrace the people around them like the people I met in Peru have, the world would be a much happier place. This experience has truly shaped who I am and what I believe in. Everyone should have a chance to experience a program like ASB!”

Amazing Internship Opportunity

By Kenji Misawa (NC Intern – Ottawa, Canada. Carleton University)


This internship opportunity was one of the most amazing experience of my life. The internship is itself is well organized and the members of the organization were very warm and welcoming. The activities were related to the human rights issues and promoting sustainable development in the small Andes communities. The most valuable experience for me was to visit the communities and interacts with communities’ members. I believe in any development works, understanding the reality of the people’s life and building the trust among communities’ members are the most important elements. I believe working for NC is an amazing opportunity since it provides us with chances to conduct field works, as well as practical skills of planning and analyzing the developing program. Also, besides the actual work, NC provided us with various trips and workshops where we could learn interesting Peruvian culture, traditions and histories.

The ‘unattractive’ problem of malnutrition

Maricarmen Valdivieso (NC Founder)

Malnutrition is an unattractive subject for everybody and more than that, its impact on everyone’s life determines everyone’s future. While we all know how important it is to be nourished, sometimes, due to the list of many important issues we need to take care of, we place the support to initiatives against malnutrition towards the last position on a list of priorities. Or maybe, when we have food in abundance for ourselves, we can forget that there are others who don’t have any.

The NGO/Start-up world demands the following trait as a requirement from anyone who wants to be successful: creativity. Many times, this has been focused on as the necessity to come up with an idea that is so good that it could sell itself. Don’t get me wrong. I wish our organization would be in a position to start something that is so innovative and creative that would eradicate the poverty in Cuncani. But we are not there yet, there are few steps we need to do first, in order to assure a sustainable Responsible Human Development. One of those first steps is to eradicate malnutrition – not just reduce it- but this takes time.

Nexos Comunitarios' Development Model
Nexos Comunitarios’ Development Model


When we ‘moved’ to work in Cuncani, I believe that none of my former colleagues, neither I, knew that it was going to be this challenging. The challenges are various, including the budget we have for every activity and every visit. As experts in poverty reduction say, communities as Cuncani, which still remain poor in Peru, are those that have a type of poverty that is very hard to combat. However, all these challenges have an amazing reward: the peace we find in the community and the special happiness that seems to permeate there when we finish with our working day with them. After several hard days and lots of effort, working in Cuncani provides its own unique and special compensation. I have made this very simple ‘snapchat’ video that chronicles a typical for us when we go to Cuncani. We start at 4:30 a.m, going from Urubamba to Calca. Watch the whole video here, to learn more about a typical day.

Our ZERO Hunger- Nutrition Program in Cuncani is just the beginning of our work with the community, but we need your help so that we can continue the program in collaboration with the community. On June 3rd, 9 of us, including NC staff, students from McGill University and Carleton University will be walking from Cuncani to Urubamba. We will be, literally, crossing mountains until we reach our lovely home in Urubamba. I have done the trek before and even though had the best memories, it remains quite a daunting task. But why are we doing this? As important as it is to raise money (our goal is US$ 3,000) it is to promote the idea that isolation shouldn’t be synonymous with a poor community. Neither should the existence of a high mountain range with all of its geographically imposing limitations it places on people mean that they shouldn’t be able to be involved in Human Development for themselves. Please, take the time to get more information about our campaign and we hope that you can support it. Find all the details here.

When I see how far we are from achieving our ultimate goal: To promote the exercise of rights and civil liberties through Responsible Human Development, in Cuncani, I need to remember to focus on small steps. Since we started working in the community, there are no children with anaemia, and from this year, we are starting to add a sustainable component to our Lunch Program in Cuncani through developing the school greenhouse and starting up the fish farm and initiating the family greenhouses with the parents of the children. I feel proud of what we have achieved so far but it will be nothing in comparison to the celebration in some years from now: when we all are able to realise our vision as reality and the implementation of our model, done with the support of the community. Help us to celebrate more accomplishments this year and make a donation. Every cent does count.

Let’s remind everyone that we all deserve the right to good nutrition and that in this century, and in a middle income country, like Peru, it is unacceptable that there exist communities that do not have their own access to their own better nutrition and food.

Wilma, Yulisa and Pavel (adorable Kindergarten children)
Children in Cuncani are often shy BUT always adorable: Wilma, Yulisa and Pavel 


Cuncani: The house of smiles

Very few times in my life have I had the opportunity to have experiences that have made a lasting emotional impact on me. Sometimes they happen without any expectation at all. Cuncani turned out to be a very unexpected and wonderful combination of emotions.


I don’t know if it’s too easy to describe what poverty means. To say ‘nothing’ is not enough. You need to see it, feel it, smell it, and hear it. I don’t know if words are useful to describe the absence, the indifference, the distance, the nothing.

In 2013, when the Lunch Program in Cuncani started, I liked the idea to support the project, always seeing from a Human Development perspective.

Alongside my two years of sponsorship, my idea of Cuncani was built based on pictures that I saw, or from stories that I heard. I never realized what Cuncani actually was. I remember that close to Christmas, we, the sponsors, had to send a present to our ‘ahijados’ (sponsored children) and when I asked what was the best gift to sent, the answer was: “Actually, the kids have nothing”. At that time, I didn’t realize or I couldn’t have had an idea about what having nothing meant. I didn’t know that some time later that I’d learn what it exactly meant.

In 2015, I went to Urubamba with the goal to finally visit Cuncani. I wasn’t a sponsor anymore but my desire to learn about Nexos Comunitarios (NC) work and the kids from Cuncani always made me feel that this trip was something I had to do. Finally, I made it and arrived in Urubamba in mid October.

Two days after my arrival, the great trip started; the great trip that the NC team make every week. The bus picked us up at 4:00 a.m., when everything is still very dark and quiet; we brought all the products to make the lunches for the kids for the week. On our way to Calca (the next town) we picked up a group of teachers that stay in Cuncani from Monday through Friday. We continued with our trip and suddenly a big chunk of reality stopped us: a strike organized by the population of Calca. They were complaining about the reparation of the road that links Calca with the rest of the towns, where daily, a lot of vehicles, including the big Odebrecht trucks (a construction company that is in charge of the construction of a new gas pipeline). They were blocking all the roads which impeded us from effectively moving on. We had to go back to Urubamba with all the produce and the only thing on our minds being that the children in Cuncani wouldn’t be able to have lunch.

I was very disappointed to not be able to reach our destiny – the whole objective of my trip was to visit Cuncani and I was afraid I wasn’t going to be able to make it. The last day I had was on Tuesday but it seemed that the strike was going to continue, therefore it was going to be impossible to arrive there. Finally, and thankfully, the strike ended on Monday afternoon.

IMG_2805On Tuesday, we arrived in Cuncani, after 3 and a half hours of traveling from Urubamba and after using 3 different types of transportation. Each town we passed through seemed poorer that the last one. There were a lot more services visibly lacking, the noise of urban life started to dissipate, there were a whole lot less vehicles and transport hubs and the cold started to increase.

When we arrived at the school in Cuncani, all the children ran to receive us with a lot of joy. I got off the bus and I realized that we were in the middle of the mountains, surrounded by them and under a sun that, although seemed intense, did nothing to warm us. I helped unload the products from the van and bring them to the school kitchen to where the mothers were, and then went to explore.

The school has three classrooms, restrooms, one refectory and a very simple kitchen. Nothing more, that’s the entire school. In front, a river runs through the community.

I walked around and I told my name to some kids after they asked me and I carried on exploring.

While I continued walking, I met the kindergarten teacher: Sr. Anacleto. Smiley and kind, he gave me a handshake and welcomed me. The coordinators of NC talked to the principal about the development of the greenhouse that is part of the Lunch Program whilst another NC coordinator is working on the PhotoVoice project. I asked Anacleto if I could stay in the classroom with him. Going beyond my expectations, he invited me to participate in the class and asked me to teach the kids some words in English (I’m an English teacher). I satt down in a semi-circle with the children, just like any other student. I didn’t understand a word, because the children (only 3, 4 and 5 years old) only speak Quechua. We started the class repeating the numbers in Quechua and that was difficult for me as I don’t know the language.

The children then asked me help with the pronunciation. Anacleto asked me to write a few words in English on the blackboard. He wrote “casa” (Spanish) and I wrote “house” and finally he wrote “Wasi” (Quechua). We had our first trilingual class.

Half an hour later, the children stood up so Anacleto could pour a small amount of soap in their hands and supervise their hand washing: it was breakfast time.

We all went out to rinse our hands but there was no water so we had to run to the river. The water was really freezing, so cold that combined with the wind, my hands hurt. We ran back to the school refectory where breakfast was waiting for them. Breakfast is provided by the government ‘Q’ali Warma’ program for children and today’s was: rice pudding.

When we finished, we went back to classes. After a while, we crossed the river to play ball.

There was no instant during those 3-4 hours in which the children didn’t smile. It is very hard for me to describe with words how they made me feel through their joy. If I could attempt to articulate some of these feelings I would say (in a question): Is it possible to smile in this very poor environment? Is it possible to play with a ball, to sing songs, throw the ball into the river and then go running to take it and use those moments as enough reasons to smile, even to laugh?


From the bottom of my heart, I hope that those children keep their smiles in spite of the coldness, in spite of the lack of many things, in spite of the indifference from a State that doesn’t recognize them, in spite of the distance… Maybe that is the only reason that guides them in the search of new opportunities to grow and to develop. I also thank them for teaching me how simple joys can be forgotten when we are adults. Without any doubt, these are the most important things in life.



BIG News (Lunch Program in Cuncani 2015)

Throughout these three years, we have learned a lot regarding the health of the children, including how we should evaluate it and how we can improve it. In addition, we have discovered that there are other factors, aside from nutrition, which influence the health of the children. When we began this program, we found that of the total number of participants (68), 9% suffered from severe anemia, 60% suffered from moderate anemia, and 31% were healthy.
Graphic 1

Since the beginning, we have conducted 3 health checks annually. During the first year, our results depended on the season, as it was harder to provide better nutrition to the children during cold months. Other factors also played a role in these results, which require a more in-depth investigation.
Nevertheless, the health of the children has improved in the last 12 months. In July of last year, the Minister of Health did a respective check (due to the low temperatures registered throughout the region in previous years), and unlike past years, all of the children in Cuncani were healthy. Perhaps in other regions of the country this situation is not surprising, but for the standard of living in Cuncani (and nearby communities) this news is rare and encouraging.
A few weeks ago, we did the second annual medical check for children of the Lunch Program and these are the results:
Graphic 2
That’s right! 96% of the children are healthy! 4% of the children still require treatment to battle anemia; a situation which will be controlled in the coming months. Isn’t this great news?!
We still have 5 months to complete the Lunch Program in Cuncani and have important things to accomplish:
  • Continue improving the health of ALL the children of the Lunch Program in Cuncani
  • Adequately prepare (mitigating the risks that will appear) the changes in the Lunch Program for 2016

We would like to thank all of our sponsors for their constant support throughout our work, all of the people that have helped us raise funds, and all of the parents of the children in Cuncani, who have respected their commitment to prepare the lunches for the program.

Thank you so much!