Amantani works to defend the rights of indigenous children and young people in the Peruvian Andes. We enable children and young people from Quechua families to access high-quality education and fair employment, helping to stimulate social development for Peru’s rural communities. Our intercultural philosophy promotes social inclusion, whilst encouraging indigenous autonomy and cultural pride.
Since 2008, we have been working in Ccorca; a Quechua district nestled high in the Andes of Southern Peru, just an hour from Cusco. Ccorca is a vibrant district with a historically strong sense of community, making it well-disposed to our collaborative approach. However, it is also host to many of the problems all-too-often associated with marginalised indigenous communities in Peru, including discrimination, alcoholism, and domestic violence.
We firmly believe that education is the key to enabling local people to resolve these issues. Driven by a commitment to social justice, we work with children, their parents and their communities to create highly contextualised projects along our core themes of ‘Access to Education’ and ‘Access to Employment’:
Access to Education: Access to education in rural areas of Peru is notoriously problematic, and the region of Cusco is no exception. Teachers and students encounter numerous challenges to get to school, due to the region’s geography and lack of infrastructure. In addition to this, linguistic barriers mean that teachers from urban areas are often unable to teach pupils in their mother-tongue Quechua, and schools are ill-equipped to close the growing digital divide between urban and rural areas. In part caused by the convergence of these factors, less than half of primary school children in Cusco are able to understand what they read, reflecting the severity of the problem in the region. Together with them and their parents, we work to enable children and young people to cultivate the core academic capabilities, resilience and social skills they need to take advantage of the opportunities before them.
Access to Employment: According to the United Nations, ‘underemployment lies at the core of poverty’. Peru’s National Institute of Statistics has reported that 59% of people living in the region of Cusco are underemployed. The number of underemployed only rises amongst indigenous people. A study by the Universidad del Pacifico’s Research Centre in 2011 found that indigenous Peruvians earn 53% less than non-indigenous people. In addition to this, the Peruvian Ministry of Work and Employment states that 84% of young workers from disadvantaged backgrounds are working without a formal contract. In line with Target 1B of the Millennium Development Goals, our vision is ‘full and productive employment and decent work for all, including women and young people’.
What Sets Us Apart:
We promote the active participation of young people in all aspects of our work, allowing them to be listened to, to make their own decisions and to take responsibility for the consequences. At a community level, we act as a facilitator for locally-led problem solving, using local knowledge to create highly tailored solutions.
We focus on the unique talents, passions and interests of each of the young people that we work with, instead of defining them by the problems they face. In doing so, we create a reciprocal relationship with the young people and their families, exchanging experiences and knowledge in a horizontal way. Additionally, we invite donors to be inspired by the children and young people's potential, rather than pity them for the problems they face.
We promote an intercultural approach, integrating the children’s cultural heritage into their educational experience. In doing so, we actively strengthen the children’s cultural identity.
Small is Beautiful
We believe in the natural efficiency of ‘smallness’ and the sum of many small changes. We create tailored solutions for specific problems, emphasising quality over quantity.
We do not hold a paternalistic view of the communities we work with, nor do we give a one-sided view of life in Ccorca in order to help our fundraising. We pride ourselves on celebrating the many positive aspects of life in Ccorca, as well as on ensuring that the young people themselves have the opportunity to share their own stories, and to define how they are portrayed.