Huanoquite - A New Partnership!
Chris Palfreyman (UK Director) shares his first impressions after visiting the community of Huanoquite.
Since 2008, the vast majority of our work in Peru has focused around the district of Ccorca. Thanks to 11 years of close collaboration with the community members and authorities, over 1,000 children and young people have received direct support from Amantani. Our carefully crafted projects are designed to help young people flourish through culturally relevant educational programmes and I’m proud to say that the results speak for themselves (read about Amantani’s impact in our latest Annual Report here).
As we celebrate our 11th birthday, we find ourselves extending our work to the community of Huanoquite, located 39km from the city of Cusco in the Andes of Peru. Officially named as an area of extreme poverty, Dr Thilo Boeck (Head of our Transitions Project) and the team were fascinated to explore whether a collaboration between Amantani and the community Huanoquite would be a formula for positive social change through our educational programmes.
Thanks to several months of research and community led meetings, Dr. Thilo led a participatory process which involved young people, community members, local government and Amantani team members to agree on how best Amantani could support the young people of Huanoquite. Situated only an hour away by car or truck from Ccorca, there are many similarities in how these two communities govern themselves. Upon my first interaction with the young people and the Secondary School Director (Lourdes), it was clear that Huanoquite holds tight to many of the values and culture that we are so familiar with in Ccorca.
What stands out is that both Huanoquite and Ccorca have a generation of young people who has a burning desire to graduate from Secondary School and enrol onto a further education course in the city of Cusco enabling them to find fair employment a few years later.Our Transitions Project responds to these needs and it is clear that the people of Huanoquite agree that the Pathways Programme (phase one of Transitions) is the best way to support their young people.
In 2019, the Pathways Programme will work with 60 young people (27 from Ccorca & 33 from Huanoquite) in their final year at school. Our workshops will focus on helping young people to develop core life-skills and knowledge about further education, employability and enterprise. Throughout their time in the programme (hosted in Amantani’s Campus in Ccorca), the young people will create their Life Plan in which they identify their individual strengths, career choices and higher education options. With this plan, they will be in a strong position to take the next step in their educational career. The successful Pathways Graduates will then be welcomed into our Leavers Programme (phase two of Transitions) in the city of Cusco.
I was lucky enough to be present for the second round of the application process for young people from Huanoquite who are keen to enrol onto our Pathways Programme. Dr Thilo, Rodrigo (Exec. Director), Shirley (Pathways Psychologist), Rocio (Vice Director of Transitions) and Kenny (Pathways Psychologist), conducted individual interviews where the young people were given the space to share how they feel they would benefit from integrating into the Pathways Programme. The interview process was carefully designed to ensure that the young people felt comfortable and were able to share any ambitions and strengths they have, any potential doubts, health issues or past experiences that may affect their future learning experiences.
Having sat through six interviews I was emotionally drained. I held back tears of joy, sadness and of being in total awe of these seventeen-year olds sat in front of me! It is clear that my colleagues are far more robust as they conducted 39 interviews over two days. The purity of emotion the young people showed is something that will stay with me for ever. Their desire in seeking further education is incredibly motivating and quite humbling to be honest. It would be so easy to accept the cards they have been dealt with in life and forget the idea of carving out their own futures despite the many barriers in their way. But no, they will do whatever it takes to be given a chance of breaking the mould!
The Programme is set to commence in mid June and will be active until the end of the year when the successful participants will graduate from Pathways.
Rodrigo goes on to say:
“We are very excited about the work we have recently begun with the Andean community of Huanoquite. It is an important challenge that will allow us to reach our objectives of supporting many more young people from rural quechua communities in pursuit of further education opportunities.
I have witnessed first-hand how involved the local municipality, who are also fully committed through their social development office, Huanoquite´s secondary school and community leaders have also affirmed their commitment to the project and the young participants.
Soon, 33 young people will join the Pathways Programme and this keeps us very motivated to continue working to support young people from this community.” Rodrigo (Exec.Director)
Having spent time with the team over the past few days, the excitement is palpable and I have no doubt this programme will be a total success. The young people are incredibly motivated and our team is ready to deliver a programme which will help guide the young people towards the next stepping stones they choose to take in life.
I wish the Pathways team the utmost success and I look forward to updating you soon!