In 2009, Alex Ball was working in the rural highland communities of the Cusco region of Peru. Many afternoons he would help his goddaughter Liliana* with her homework. One day Alex asked her about her plans for high school and Liliana said this would be her last year of school because she didn’t have access to housing in town and it was too far and unsafe to walk to and from high school every day.
Currently, only 3 in 10 indigenous Peruvian girls from rural areas graduate from secondary school because of the same challenges Liliana faced. Schools are 3-6 hours away by foot and harsh weather condition, not to mention health and safety concerns for young women traveling alone, keep them from being able to make the journey. While many farming families will pay for their sons to stay in town and receive an education, this opportunity is not often afforded to their daughters.
Alex came up with the idea of an educational dormitory and education center where girls could live in a safe and nurturing environment while receiving nutritious meals and after school tutoring so that they wouldn’t have to make the trek to and from their villages on a daily basis. Community members, local officials and indigenous leaders of the region all agreed the best way to support their own villages was through education so with support from the community, so Alex returned to the States to raise funds for a pilot year of the dormitory.
Today, the Sacred Valley Project runs two dormitories in the Urubamba Province (Sacred Valley) of Peru. Both are so much more than just a living space. They provide young women a community in which the girls learn to set goals and achieve them in a warm and positive environment. The teachers provide nurturing and support for the indigenous girls while they adapt to the culture of an urban area and face academic struggles as result of poor primary education.
“This gift from GITAGiving and Bhakti will enable Sacred Valley Project to hire a full time indigenous house mother that will serve as a role model and teacher for our girls, guiding them through the difficult decisions they face during adolescence and encouraging them to make smart choices for themselves and their community.” – Christie Cutler, Director of Development, SVP.
The Sacred Valley Project dormitory and education center is home to some of the most marginalized people in Latin America. Yet, all of the girls that attend demonstrate a strong desire to complete high school, and the potential to pursue a technical or university degree. They also demonstrate leadership qualities and a drive to achieve. Through an enhanced curriculum that provides resources and skills necessary to become female leaders, the Sacred Valley Project increases the economic security of women and their voices in their communities by providing opportunity for young women to empower themselves.
* Name changed for privacy
Why Bhakti Chai loves this project
Bhakti is passionate about any project that increases the economic security of women and their voices in their communities. Sacred Valley Project is providing opportunities for young women to empower themselves and become independent and civically minded women that will lead the next generation of their communities and families. You can learn more about Sacred Valley Project at sacredvalleyproject.org.