Pisac is a town in the Sacred Valley outside Cusco that attracts a lot of tourism and where an abundance of agricultural varieties flourish. The surrounding high land communities are populated by indigenous people and home to many KK beneficiaries. Some of the youth involved in Kusi Ñan (KK’s youth and farm project) have been raised in these agricultural settings and are skilled in planting, growing, and harvesting. Over half of KK youth are indigenous and speak Spanish as a second language. 40% work in the evenings to provide economic support to their low-income families (as grocery store attendees, assistant cooks, craft making assistants, domestic servants). In the case of young women, parents often want them to stop studying to dedicate their time to domestic tasks and care for younger siblings. Racism, inequality, and lack of opportunity are issues for local and indigenous youth in Pisac. This difficulty also manifests a sense of shame or low self-esteem.
Historically, indigenous peoples have been marginalized, discriminated against and have faced economic challenges in the region. Moreover, the trauma that stems from these impacts has generational consequences. There is a sad stigma that manual labor is for economically challenged people and is a skill that you can barely gain financial stability from – this includes agriculture. Kusi Ñan’s project has changed that judgment and is teaching youth that healthy food, healthy people and sustainability skills lead to stronger and empowered communities, challenging the current system of inequality, which perpetuates indigenous peoples as low-income and excluded communities. KK builds on the knowledge and skills youth learn about the land from a young age, and focuses on sustainable agriculture with an in-depth emphasis on marketing, business and vocational skills so that young people may learn to make a dignified living from agriculture; the focus is on healthy, conscious and self-assured youth through leadership, empowerment, and gender equality trainings and workshops to instill a sense of dignity and cultural identity & pride.
Legally founded in 2008 by a group of five families from Pisac, KK promotes access to intercultural, bilingual, and quality education for young people who live in poverty and experience discrimination and social exclusion. The school provides comprehensive education to a new generation of indigenous communities in the district of Pisac using the elements of the Waldorf pedagogy, incorporating the values of ancestral Andean practices and philosophy that respect the ecological integrity, wisdom and dignity of indigenous culture. In 2010, UNESCO recognized its educational work and included KK in its “Network of Schools” under the Plan of Education Associations of UNESCO, endorsing their curriculum, educational materials, and vision as a valuable model. Through participation in events organized by UNESCO, KK strengthens the network, emphasizing the development of management skills and/or active participation in a virtual community, the development of teaching skills for the promotion of bilingual and intercultural education, and the importance of pride in one’s indigenous cultural identity. KK continuously participates in visits/exchanges with schools and teachers from Peru and other countries (including another EMpower grantee partner, Yanapanakusun). It has witnessed its educational experience inspire other educational efforts in Peru and regionally. KK has been specifically requested to share/teach its methodology and experiences with other schools, the local government, and other NGOs.
EMpower’s 3rd grant will promote access to education and entrepreneurship by training youth in sustainable, organic agriculture incorporating Andean ancestral knowledge and traditions, healthy eating, and nutrition.
Primary Location: Pisac
Funded Since: 2015
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