A Change of Leadership
At the beginning of 2018, following ten years leading Amantani’s programmes in Ccorca, Amantani Co-Founder Pilar Echevarria is stepping down as the Director of Programmes in Peru, in order to focus on doing what she does best: starting new projects from scratch. We are very lucky to have Rodrigo Bustos, who has been with Amantani for three years, and is now extremely well-placed to pick up the reigns, and bring fresh energy to an increasingly demanding role. Here’s Amantani Co-Director Fred Branson to explain.
"Firstly, I want to pay homage to Pilar. If you have already met her, it won’t have taken you long to get a sense of her boundless energy and compassion. Over ten years ago, when I first travelled to Peru, it took me less than a month to be completely inspired by her wholehearted dedication to supporting children in Cusco. It was this inspiration that led me to begin working with her and fellow Co-Founder Rocio to set up Amantani. Having seen the dedication with which they both went about their work, as well as the clear needs that they were working to address, it was impossible to get on a flight home and not get behind them!
Fast-forward to the present day, if you spend some time with Amantani’s projects in Cusco, you will soon pick up on a phrase that has been on the tip of everyone’s tongues for a decade: ‘el espiritu de Amantani’ or 'the spirit of Amantani’. Any mention of this phrase amongst our team of 20 soon elicits nods of agreement and a seemingly very clear understanding of what it means. There is no doubt as to where this ‘spirit' has come from. It is something which Pilar has been breathing into Amantani’s work since day one, relentlessly highlighting the need for an individualised approach, which is completely tailored to the needs of each of the children and young people we work with. It is this ‘spirit’ which has laid the basis for all our projects, and which informs the decisions we make on a daily basis.
In a bid to share the positive results of our work, we can sometimes gloss over the hugely challenging process and the efforts that lay behind these results. It is also thanks to this ‘spirit’ that Amantani has been able to overcome countless challenges in order to be able to enter into its tenth year, and to achieve the impact we have been able to. Operating in rural communities with limited communication and infrastructure makes for very difficult working conditions. Pilar and the team often look back fondly(!) on the times when they used to walk hours and hours to reach children and their parents in remote communities, or when the Boarding Houses have had to spend whole weeks without any running water. These are just small examples of the toughness that comes with the ’spirit of Amantani’ that Pilar has transmitted onto a whole team.
So Pilar, on behalf of everyone at Amantani, thank you for ten years of inspiring leadership of Amantani’s projects in Ccorca. Ten years which have laid solid foundations, and leave us in a great position to take on the next decade of Amantani.
Pilar will play a key role in pioneering the projects that will define Amantani’s next chapter, as well as supporting Rodrigo as he takes on a new challenge. During 2018, Pilar will mainly focus her time on working to pilot a new life-skills programme that we will run with secondary school students from Ccorca. Over the course of 15 weekends, we will run residential courses in our Boarding Houses facilities, which will enable young people to learn core life-skills, covering themes such as sexual health, gender violence, racial discrimination and the management of emotions. We’re really excited about sharing more news of this project as it takes shape!
Lastly, I want to thank Rodrigo for his efforts over the past three years, and for taking on the role of Director of Operations in Peru. Rodrigo brings with him over ten years of experience working in psycho-social education programmes with children and young people in Latin America. This experience, coupled with his time working directly with the children and young people in Ccorca, puts him in a very strong position to lead the next chapter of Amantani’s programmes.
Ever since he officially joined the team in 2015, Rodrigo has steadily gained the utmost trust and respect of the Amantani team and the young people from our projects. As well as leading the development of the afternoon education and psychology programme in the Boarding Houses, he has been instrumental in structuring and systematising Amantani’s programmes and raising the standards of our monitoring and evaluation. Now as Rodrigo takes on this new challenge, he has the backing of Pilar and the whole team in Peru, and we’re hugely excited about what is possible in Amantani’s next chapter under his leadership."