Latin American Foundation for the Future

Elvira’s Success Story

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Meet Elvira: a woman with an inspiring story about how she transformed from living in a small, rural town where opportunities were limited, to becoming a successful woman who achieved high grades, studied at the University of Victoria in British Columbia and worked for one of Peru’s leading train operators.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This is her story.

Elvira’s childhood was typical of the region she grew up in. As the youngest of six siblings, she lived with her family in the small village of Tanacc, located high up in the Andean mountains. With just 200 families in the village, she had grown up in an environment which placed a strong emphasis on community living. Her family survived from working the land cultivating corn and potatoes. Elvira attended the local primary school located just outside her home, however, things became difficult when she entered secondary education as the closest school was in the town of Ollantaytambo and only reachable after an hour of walking. A common issue faced by young people in Peru, where a lack of infrastructure and public transport makes commuting to school a struggle.

 

But this did not deter Elvira from continuing her education, and during her time in Ollantaytambo, she met other like-minded students who shared the dream of going further and entering higher education. A dream hard to achieve for most, as they are overburdened with family responsibilities, younger siblings to care for or lack of funds to cover costs. As a girl, Elvira saw her future as a choice between marrying, raising a family and working the land or entering a convent to become a nun.

 

But one day everything changed. A representative from the Canadian-Peruvian charity Mosqoy visited her school to talk about their exciting new Andean Youth Programme (now known as the T’ikary Youth Program). The programme offered post-secondary educational scholarships to talented young people from isolated rural communities throughout the Andes, enabling them to live and study in Cusco. The rarity of an opportunity like this was something that many of the students couldn’t believe to the point that a large majority of them thought the scheme was unrealistic and that it must be a scam. Despite her classmate’s suspicions, Elvira was fascinated and excited about this programme, and with the support of her family, she decided that this once in a lifetime opportunity was something not to be missed. After a tense and nerve-wracking few months, Elvira received the news that she had been accepted into the T’ikary Programme. Although scared at the thought of moving to Cusco city and living away from her family for the first time in her life, Elvira was determined to succeed and soon realised that the programme opened up a world of possibilities and experiences.

 

In March 2006 Elvira enrolled onto the hotel administration programme at the Instituto Americano de Cusco, a further education college. There, Elvira gained confidence in herself and her abilities and aspired to one day own a hotel. Living in the Mosqoy house, was at first difficult due to the change in lifestyle from living with her family. However, the strong community built within the home, as well as the welcoming and supportive environment created by the Mosqoy project leaders soon put her at ease. She cultivated values such as patience and tolerance towards others, understanding that there were many points of views. She also learned to live independently, being responsible for everyday activities, balancing her social life and studies.

 

Mosqoy organised for Elvira to study English as part of a cultural exchange programme at the University of Victoria in British Columbia. This was a life-changing experience, and through living with a Canadian host family, Elvira gained an outstanding level of confidence in her English skills. Being exposed to a culture so different to the one she had always known was something that Elvira feels very appreciative for. Additionally, through obtaining such a high level of English, her experiences in Canada helped guide Elvira into her successful career within the tourism sector.

 

After all the support that Elvira received from Mosqoy, she felt that she needed to ‘give back’. She joined the Q’ente programme launched by Mosqoy and provided Quechua-Spanish translation support between associations of women textile weavers and the Mosqoy team.  Elvira claimed that the experiences of these trips were invaluable as it helped her to not forget the conditions that she had grown up in.

Graduating with flying colours in 2010 and oozing with confidence, Elvira was ready to take the necessary steps to achieve her goals. Her advanced level of English, allowed her to secure 2 years of work in hotels from 2012-2014. Needing to utilise her English & hotel administration skills every day, she took on a number of roles such as assisting in reception, working in the café, working in the kitchen and housekeeping. Nonetheless, she never forgot Mosqoy and motivated to support other young people of similar backgrounds led her to volunteer as a supervisor in the Mosqoy house. She helped the new students, paid institute fees, and organised activities. Still today, she has contact with the Mosqoy team and hopes that the current students will realise the extensive list of possibilities that are now available for them through the programme.

 

After gaining some work experience, Elvira was able to progress and land herself a job working for Inkarail, one of Peru’s leading train operators for journey’s from Cusco to Machu Pichu. This is a role that Elvira has excelled at, due to her love for working with tourists. Her position at Inkarail consists of selling tickets and assisting with on-board service. A position that gives her a steady and good salary, healthcare and other benefits. Now, Elvira has taken a year out of work to start a family. A luxury not available to many women, but one that she can enjoy as having demonstrated her value to Inkarail, they have promised to offer her a job when she returns.

 

It has been 10 years since Mosqoy first came into Elvira’s life. 10 years of dreams and accomplishments. 10 years of growing and becoming a determined and independent woman. Every opportunity given, Elvira has risen to and succeeded in and with her motivation to start back at work in the near future, it seems very plausible for her to achieve her dream of owning a hotel or restaurant.

 

Listening to Elvira discuss the positive impact that Mosqoy has had on her life; at the academic, professional and personal levels is truly inspiring. While she received a scholarship, accommodation, and food as part of the programme, Elvira asserts that the most important thing she received was being part of ‘a beautiful family’. Everyone who has met Elvira, appreciates how she lives and breathes gratitude, and hopes that the students at Mosqoy today understand and take advantage of the great opportunity they have been given.

 

 

 

 

 
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