Latin American Foundation for the Future

Cat’s LAFF Blog

It’s almost half a year since I left Cusco, and yet Peru and the experiences I had at LAFF are still a huge part of my day to day life. Let me explain.

In mid September 2016, my partner joined me in Peru and the day after he arrived (from a city at sea level), we hiked up to 4600 metres and did an alternative trail to reach Machu Picchu. Despite ignoring all the (many) health warnings about acclimatisation, he had none of the nasty effects of soroche (altitude sickness) and in fact outpaced me – with a full two and a half months of acclimatisation – for most of the weekend!

We then spent a jam-packed week visiting LAFF’s projects while I finished off my time as Programmes Officer and completed my handover notes. Some of my favourite memories of my months in Peru come from those last encounters with the Sacred Valley Project students at the Calca and Ollantaytambo houses. We filmed them engaging with one of LAFF’s problem-solving workshops and then interviewed some of them about their future aspirations and how SVP and LAFF have contributed to their educational development thus far. Initially, they were shy and giggly, but little by little they opened up in front of the camera. One of them reminisced about past workshops and volunteers, remembering one evening when we spread large mapamundis on the tables and played a game of Capitals. She knew all of them, even those of countries furthest from the South American continent. She said wistfully that ever since a friendly Italian volunteer spent time at the house, she’s wanted to visit Italy, and also New York and the USA. I asked her if she’d like to live or work in another country and she hesitated, smiling, then nodded definitively.

Before we left to take the colectivo back to Cusco, all the girls crowded round to speak into the microphone we were using to record for LAFF’s new promotional video. They told us to come back and visit again. They told us not to forget them. Their smiling faces and hopeful invitation for us to return has stuck with me since leaving Cusco and embarking on another adventure, far away from the Sacred Valley and yet nonetheless very much connected to it.

After spending a full day in Lima airport, we returned to Canada, where I quickly unpacked and repacked my bags, then took a flight to my parents’ back on the other side of the Atlantic. I had a couple of days at home, and then all of a sudden found myself on a seven hour drive down to Cambridge, where my Masters course in Latin American Studies was just about to start. Those were a whirlwind couple of weeks of farewells and departures, but in some ways I feel closer than ever to Cusco, the SVP girls and everything I learned while I was in Peru.

A month into my course, we had a seminar on networks and intellectual property rights in Peru. I enthusiastically signed up to give a presentation, which reflected on the opportunities for Indigenous artisans to take control of their place on the supply chain between producer and consumer. Accompanying my presentation was a series of photographs from community visits with Mosqoy’s Q’ente Textile Revitalisation team, including meeting the Nueva Esperanza weavers’ association in Parobamba and picking up orders from the well-established weavers in Amaru, which is developing its own sustainable tourism network, known as turismo vivencial in Peru.

Mosqoy’s encouragement of the intergenerational transmission of Quechua traditions resonated strongly with me. I took Quechua classes while I was in Cusco, and although I didn’t really progress to a conversational level, I intend to stick at it. Before going to Peru, I was interested in the rights of Indigenous peoples globally, but spending time with LAFF’s partners allowed me to understand issues of participation, bilingualism and interculturality much more deeply.

Another first-hand experience that informed my understanding of and appreciation for everyday life in Peru was Cusco’s Ni Una Menos march. The LAFF team was very active in covering the protest online and discussing how the movement is empowering Peruvian women who have been affected by gender-based violence. We bumped into some of the girls from Casa Mantay on the march and together we chanted “¡No es no! ¡Te dije que no! ¿Qué parte no entendiste, la “n” o la “o”?

A couple of months after the march, then Communications Officer, Andreas, wrote to me to tell me that the feminist society of Keele University in England had read about LAFF and were interested in fundraising and learning more about how our projects impact young women in Peru. I liaised with Aysha, their Gender Equality Officer, and in a journey that overall involved four different buses and three separate train journeys, I made it to Keele to present on LAFF, SVP and the Ni Una Menos movement. After telling them about the work we do, we all sat down with cakes and cookies to plan a fundraising strategy for the remainder of the academic year. Among other things, they will organise a sponsored walk which will have a symbolic duration; it will represent the number of hours SVP girls are saved walking to school by living in the SVP houses in Calca or Ollantaytambo.

I really enjoyed revisiting LAFF’s fundraising guide, which I presented to members of the Red Semilla group in Cusco back in September. In my role as Programmes Officer, I became especially interested in diversifying our fundraising strategies and developing links with Cusco hotels, restaurants and travel agents to give tourists opportunities to give back to the place they were visiting in some form of ethical, sustainable turismo vivencial. I talked to the manager of a luxury tour company, the community liaison officer of one of the most expensive hotels in the city, and a number of restaurants frequented by tourists. These experiences have informed my academic studies; I am now researching the impact of tourism on Indigenous communities in the Lake Titicaca region of Peru for my final dissertation.

Another opportunity to present on LAFF’s work arose recently, when the Edinburgh University Sustainable Development Association contacted Melissa in Cusco to ask if we would be part of a conference on Sustainability in Latin America co-hosted with the university’s Latin American Society. Although I wasn’t able to get to Edinburgh in the end, I recorded a video of my presentation, which was shown alongside presentations about dengue fever control in Nicaragua and regional environmental co-operation in South America. I particularly focused on LAFF’s key values of fostering participation and partnership, self-sufficiency and independence, as well as quality over quantity. I discussed our commitment to environmental sustainability in the installation of three solar showers at each of our Cusco-based projects, and our growing successes with social enterprises, such as the Mantay leather workshop and the T’anta Wasi Bakery in Ollantaytambo.

Just today, I gave a presentation on Indigeneity and development in my module on Race and Indigeneity at university. I showed a clip from the promotional video that I mentioned earlier and we reflected on the importance of educational provision for girls from Quechua-speaking communities in the Andean altiplano. Like I said, the experiences that I had in Cusco with LAFF are still very much at the forefront of my mind, and they inform my day to day life here in Cambridge

I feel incredibly lucky to be a LAFF Ambassador and to keep spreading the word about the important work we do. While I am currently gaining a different kind of insight into Latin America through my Masters course, above all it is the face-to-face interactions I had with students, local volunteers and Cusco residents last summer that continue to inform and encourage my deep appreciation for Peru and Latin America as a whole.









Laff’s 2015/16 Annual Report!

We are excited and proud to be able to share with our supporters across the world our annual report from April 2015 through to March 2016. This report consolidates all the amazing work we did throughout that year and shows just how much of a difference LAFF makes. For those who want an in-depth knowledge of everything we did, follow this link: and read the report in full. If you’d rather just take a glimpse over some of the highlights, read on!

Perhaps our biggest achievement this year was enabling 78 disadvantaged young people to attend school. That’s 78 individual lives that were improved through access to education and 78 future adults who will find that their job prospects have increased exponentially. In order to make this happen LAFF covered the costs of school supplies, uniforms, registration fees and, in some cases, transport costs.

In addition to sending 78 children to school, LAFF paid for two after school tutors to support the girls at the Sacred Valley Project – a sound investment as every single girl passed the academic year! In addition to this we saw three young people graduate secondary education – one coming top in their class – and three complete an English course, which will provide them with a valuable skill for future employment.

However, education wasn’t the only thing LAFF focused on last year. As part of our new Youth Participation Strategy, LAFF ran 40 workshops on a variety of topics, including stress management, self esteem, sexual health and conflict resolution. We also held vocational training in the areas of cuisine, CV writing and more. These workshops and training sessions helped a whopping total of 75 beneficiaries and we couldn’t be happier.

All our hard work towards promoting education and facilitating vocational training came to fruition during the careers fair we hosted. After extensively analysing the labour market, we identified which professions best suited our beneficiaries and then invited representatives from each field to attend our fair. The fair was a total success and provided the 33 young people that attended with valuable knowledge about gaining employment and working life in general.

Further accomplishments that we saw over the past year include a graduate from Mosqoy opening her own restaurant, a disadvantaged boy from Azul Wasi start a physics degree and an adolescent mother from Casa Mantay complete a gastronomy course. We also saw some great developments in our sustainability programme as we assisted with the installation of solar showers, which helped our partner SVP save money on electricity, meaning it had more to spend on school supplies.

With regards to social enterprise, there were some big and positive changes this year. However, of everything we saw develop, one thing stands out – the T’anta Wasi Bakery. LAFF secured initial funding for machinery and equipment and assisted with a demand assessment to see what would be most profitable for the bakery to sell. The bakery has since gone from strength to strength and we look forward to seeing it blossom further in the future.

As you can see, 2015/16 was a phenomenal year for LAFF and its partner projects but, unfortunately, our work here is far from done. As we celebrate the wonderful achievements made by our beneficiaries, we are further motivated to carry on our work and continue improving the lives of young people in need. If you are as impressed as we are by what you’ve read please consider contributing to our work either by making a one-off or monthly donation or by throwing a fundraiser for us. For more information on how you can help, get in touch at



Enriching Our Educadoras

Recently, we raised a glass in honour of a huge achievement from a few educadoras in our partner projects. An educador comunitario (the shorthand female version being educador), for those unfamiliar with the term, is someone who works, and sometimes lives, with marginalised people, offering them emotional and academic support. In line with our capacity building strategy, we were thrilled to be able to enable two educadoras from our partners Sacred Valley Project and Mosqoy and to watch another educadora from Casa Mantay attend a workshop on sexuality and intervention.

Here at LAFF, we believe in providing the staff members of each of our partner projects with as many opportunities as possible to expand their skills and knowledge and this workshop was incredibly valuable given the type of work we do. Many of the children that end up in the care of our projects have suffered abuse in some way and in some cases this abuse is of a sexual nature. Casa Mantay is a particularly notable example of this as it houses young women as young as 12 years old who have become pregnant, usually involuntarily.

The situations that many of the educadoras have to face on a daily basis are delicate to say the least and so it is of pivotal importance that they are given the best resources possible to handle the issues of the children as effectively as possible.  After the workshop, we asked the educadoras whether or not they thought it had been useful and, candidly, what they thought of the experience. The feedback we got was overwhelming positively with the educadora from the Sacred Valley Project explaining that the workshop helped “enrich my knowledge of the problems that affect our society” while the Mosqoy representative said she was grateful for the “support and assistance that I was given to attend this workshop”.

Three women attending a workshop might not seem like a reason to start celebrating but this accomplishment signifies a lot more than first meets the eye. As the staff in our partner projects become more informed, they are able to better help the children in their care, which in turn will help these children to no end as they journey along the road to independence. With more informed and independent adults contributing to society, we will undoubtedly start to see things change for the better. So here’s to our wonderful educadoras!


Getting to Know Katerina from the T’anta Wasi Bakery and Sacred Valley Project

There’s a new girl in town, and she’s taking the T’anta Wasi Bakery in Ollantaytambo, Sacred Valley into her own hands. Meet Katerina Caballero, a motivated and inspiring woman who, together with LAFF, is transforming a new local bakery into a catalyst to help the young girls at Sacred Valley Project with funding for their education. Sacred Valley Project supports young girls from rural areas to receive an education where under their given circumstances it would be extremely difficult. We had the opportunity for a Q and A session with Katerina to learn more about her, as well as her plans and aspirations for the future of the bakery and Sacred Valley Project.

Katerina Caballero, new manager of the T’anta Wasi Bakery in Ollantaytambo.

Q. What is your role at the T’anta Wasi bakery?

A. As the Administrator I will oversee sales, finance, management and the business development of T’anta Wasi. My role is to make sure T’anta Wasi run smoothly and sustainably with future growth and development in mind. Also, developing a platform for the girls at The Sacred Valley Project to learn a little about how to start and run their own businesses is one of the goals of administration. This will empower the young women by giving them the tools and the confidence to learn basic administrative responsibilities of running a business.
Q. Tell us a bit about yourself and your background. Where are you from and why did you decide to come and work here in Sacred Valley?

A. I was born in Denver, CO. My parents both immigrated to the states from Peru and Panama. I studied Environmental Design with an emphasis in Architecture at the University of Boulder in Colorado and I have been working in the fields of architectural and structural drafting, designing, and project management since my first internship at age nineteen. After graduating University, I spent some time as a project manager and freelance designer. Throughout the years, I took half of my time to travel. I was able to get to know 13 countries throughout Europe, Scandinavia and South America couch surfing, back packing and adventuring all around. Naturally, I fell in love with Peru. I have a lot of family here and the number of places to see are infinitely beautiful. Peru never ceases to amaze me. Thus, I decided to pursue the paperwork for citizenship. I had been living, working remotely, and volunteering in Lima for 6 months waiting on paper work to be processed when my cousin, Nicole, had informed me of the position opening for The Sacred Valley Project. I had heard a lot of the project through Nicole’s stories and experiences living and working in the dorms with the girls and I was excited to learn more. Within a month of talking with her and Alex, I had submitted my final paper work for citizenship to immigrations and made my way down here to Ollantaytambo.

Q. How do you plan on making the bakery stand out from the rest? What makes it special?

A. Through my experiences of design it is important to me that the bakery has a strong aesthetic, story and product and that these aspects coincide with one another. We did a little renovation that has already made a world of a difference by bringing a unique but still cozy rural feel to the bakery. We also wanted to open the space up for it to also be used as a café, which doesn’t exist in Ollantaytambo. In my travels to the Sacred Valley Project in Calca I encountered a man that grows his own coffee, roasts it and would transport at a reasonable price, keeping the bakery/cafe local and affordable. We have also hired a great baker that not only has experience with bread and cakes but also will be making pizzas for the cafe, both take home and in house personal pizzas. As for the story, T’anta Wasi will stand in support of the girls at the Sacred Valley Project and help empower and tell their stories of the importance of education in the valley, especially for young women. We want T’anta Wasi to be a community bakery-cafe that caters to diverse groups of clients!

Q. What do you hope to gain from the bakery for Sacred Valley Project? What is the trajectory of the bakery – Any plans for the future?

A. I hope to help build this business up to be the start of something more for the education of the girls of the Sacred Valley Project. My mother has worked in education for 25 years and it has been instilled in me that education is an essential catalyst to growth and change for the betterment of a community as a whole. I am excited for the opportunity to start something that will benefit such a cause. T’anta Wasi’s trajectory will be to be able to help support some of the costs of the girl’s school supplies, costs of living, and transportation. In the future T’anta Wasi will also aspire to become a pilot program that will teach these young women how to administer a business of their own one day. Our goal is to gain enough traction to then become a template for sustainable business design that would support other projects similar to that of The Sacred Valley Project.

Working together to fight violence against women

On the thirteenth of August this year, Peruvian woman made a stand. They became a multi-generational force to be reckoned with; women who were fed up with the ever-present domestic violence in their country, paired with a general lack of support from judicial powers. From small children to the elderly, they were joined by husbands, brothers, sons and friends who came to the streets of Lima to march in protest of violence against women. This movement, ‘Ni Una Menos’, rallied over 150,000 people from across the country, making it the largest demonstration in Peruvian history, and sparked similar marches and protests in cities around the world.

Image by Pedro Lazaro Fernandez via

The problem of violence against women is far from a new one, nor is it confined to a specific culture, country or societal group; it’s a universal issue that pervades the daily lives of women around the globe. This type of violence takes on many forms, including physical, sexual and psychological abuse, and has a lasting and devastating effect on its victims. The emotional, physical and economical effects of violence against women trickle down to their children and families as well, likely creating an ongoing cycle of violence from generation to generation.

According to UN studies, one in three women globally will suffer sexual or physical violence in their lifetime; a figure we can no longer ignore. Violence against women is the inevitable result of discrimination and of persistent inequalities between men and women, but finding a solution is far from impossible. The occurrence of this type of violence is changing as more and more organizations around the world are leveling the playing field for women. Now more than ever, there are organizations worldwide which aim to inspire women and young girls with opportunities for education and practical skills, helping them become independent and self-sufficient.


Here in Peru, the need for assistance is being challenged by organizations who seek to embolden women to help themselves escape abuse. Casa Mantay, one of our partner organizations here in Cusco, is leading the fight to empower young mothers in the region, many of which have been victims of abuse. They provide a healthy and caring living environment where the women can not only heal, but learn the skills they need to live the life they envision for themselves. Another partner organization, the Sacred Valley Project, is making large strides in providing access to education for indigenous young women from low-income families in the more remote areas of the Andes. These girls are provided with safe housing, nutritional meals, tutoring and schooling – a privilege not often awarded to girls in such areas – giving them the tools to become equal and influential leaders in their community. The difference being made by these organizations is undeniable, and many of the young women who’ve benefited from their support are setting a shining example for others within their communities.

Young mother at Casa Mantay

With the help of donors, supporters and volunteers, organizations like these here in Peru and around the world are changing the local and global scene for gender equality. More and more people are realizing the immeasurable benefits of supporting such organizations, both within their own community and worldwide. The collective voice of the 150,000 women, children and men heard during the historic march earlier this year is resonating strongly throughout even the most remote corners of the country, and crossing borders. Slowly but surely we are heading towards a world where women are not only viewed as equals, but as leaders, innovators and powerful voices that command respect.

Exploring Barriers to Education for Young Peruvians

What did you want to be when you grew up? Chances are you didn’t end up as the astronaut or rock star that you thought you would be, right? As young people, our career ambitions and goals change as we grow older and progress, along with our aspirations and expectations for education. There are different reasons why these change; We might develop new interests, or maybe we begin to look at more realistic and viable career options and change our path.

The authors of the report, ‘Education aspirations among young people in Peru and their perceptions of barriers to higher education’, analyze a study by the group Young Lives, which follows young people in Peru over the course of 15 years and documents how their educational aspirations are influenced by other factors such as their parent’s educational aspirations, their socio-economic status and their access to resources.

The study shows that both young Peruvians and their parents have high aspirations for education, although the motivations are different between urban and rural areas. In urban areas, higher education is seen as essential to getting a good job, whereas education in rural areas is seen as a means to escape poverty and “be someone”.

It’s clear that young people in Peru value education, and this probably reflects the high value that their parents also put on education. Parents want their children to become successful adults, so the appreciation of education is instilled in them at a young age. In spite of these aspirations however, a low percentage of young people make it past secondary school in Peru. According to the National Household Survey 2012, only 28 per cent of young people between 17 and 24 years were enrolled in higher education. Regardless of this desire to achieve higher education, there are clearly barriers that are preventing young people from following through with their ambitions.

The study showed that the aspirations of many young people and parents changed over time, for various reasons. For some it was an issue of monetary constraints and pressure from the family to begin working right away. Many experience this type of psychological barriers. As they get closer to graduation and the future becomes more imminent, they aren’t receiving as much support from their families or feeling “backed up” in their decision to pursue university. What seems to be a common factor for many is the lack of guidance and information on higher education in schools, such as what and where to study and how to apply. Young people seem to lack an understanding of how to access university.

The authors conclude that the lack of information and vocational guidance for young people in school is a significant problem that needs to be handled. This information needs to be provided not only within schools but throughout the community and to the general public. Parents and caregivers must also be knowledgeable about the process of applying for university and helping the young people in their lives plan for the future. To tackle this problem here in Cusco, LAFF and its partner organizations have a strong focus in equipping young people with the tools they need to achieve their aspirations and become successful adults. From resume-building workshops to career guidance and assistance for attaining higher education, we are making changes for the better. Armed with guidance for their future, many beneficiaries of our organizations have or are enrolling in university and finally achieving their career goals.

With the help of donors and supporters, the possibility of going to university is now within reach for many young people who otherwise wouldn’t have the opportunity. With your help, we’ll continue to educate and empower young people to pursue and achieve their educational aspirations – and accept nothing less.

Amber Kremer – 24 November, 2016


Helping “Every Last Child” with Save the Children

Looking back on our childhood, there are likely a few phrases we all dreaded hearing: “Finish your vegetables.” “Do your homework.” “You’re going to the dentist.” What we didn’t realize at the time, is how privileged we were to be able enjoy wholesome meals, go to school every day and have medical doctors to keep us healthy. Millions of children around the world don’t receive these basic needs, and this problem only worsens as the disparity between the rich and the poor increases.
Save the Children’s new campaign, “Every Last Child”, aims to tackle the issue at local, national and international levels. They’ve released a report which details the issue, along with some astounding real-life numbers and statistics of children living in poverty, which you can find in its entirety here: Save the Children Report

Young Indian girl – Courtesy of Save the Children

According to the report, many children are experiencing a combination of poverty and discrimination, leading them to “exclusion”. This means that children who experience discrimination based on who they are or where they live, combined with poverty, prevents them from getting the food, healthcare and education they need. Unfortunately, the voices of these children and their communities often go unheard, so change is extremely difficult. In Peru, for example, Quechua children are 1.6 times more likely to die before their fifth birthday and twice as likely to have stunted growth than their Spanish-speaking counterparts, based on the organization’s research. The main causes of exclusion are the financial barriers of paying for basic services, discrimination and the lack of accountability for law-makers and those in power who fail to make decisions that benefit the population living in poverty. According to the study, “excluded” children are more likely to have poor access to basic services (education, health services, clean water, electricity, etc.), they are more likely to experience violence and be persecuted for their beliefs and they often face psychological damage.
There are many different groups of children who are likely to be excluded, which include minority ethnic groups, girls, refugees and children living in disadvantaged or remote regions. There’s also concern for children with disabilities, those living in the streets and those who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, questioning or intersex (LGBTQI), although there is little data on these groups.
Save the Children has called on world leaders to make three guarantees to all children: fair finance, equal treatment and accountability. Access to essential services must be a funding priority to ensure it reaches all children and that they are affordable to everyone. Discriminatory laws, norms and behaviors must be challenged and all births must be registered in an effort to ensure equal treatment. Policy-makers must include children from the most marginalized groups in their decision-making process to keep their accountability in check.

Boys in Ethiopia – Courtesy of Save the Children

The challenge to bring equality to the most marginalized children is a colossal one – but not impossible. Every day, people and organizations around the world fight for this cause. Here in the Cusco region, our partner organizations are making strides in providing these basic services to those children who need them most, with the help of donors and volunteers. The Azul Wasi orphanage aims to provide these basic needs and more for boys who once lived in the streets. The Sacred Valley Project and Mosqoy provide educational opportunities for children in remote or marginalized regions. Casa Mantay helps young mothers leave abusive environments in exchange for a safe, supportive home and access to education. The success of this campaign requires the collaboration of everyone; not just world leaders and policy makers. Together we can bring about a change and level the playing field for children around the world.

telling the story of LAFF

I can’t breathe. My lungs are desperately trying to escape my rib cage in a bid to find more oxygen. My first flight of stairs in Cusco is turning into an ordeal.

One month later and I’m merrily trotting along at 4000m, on one of the many treks I have done in Cusco and the Sacred Valley – some of the most remarkable scenery I have ever seen. There is an embarrassing amount to do around here and my personal highlights are like something out of a nature documentary. Like the nature documentaries that leave you in stunned silence for the rest of the week.

Andreas (left) with Dan and Rachel, tow LAFF volunteers, enjoying a sunrise on the edge of the Andes mountain range

There was a trek to Choquequirao, an Inca ruin that’s so remote there were only eight visitors on the day we went. The food in Arequipa nearly outmatched the trek through nearby Colca Canyon, one that makes the ‘Grand’ Canyon look tame. And Lake Titicaca was so relaxing I was nearly horizontal for the week after. There was also something called Machu Picchu.

I had a hard Brexit from the UK. After a few years working in London and paying debilitating amounts of rent, I was ready to leave, and sharpish. I applied to volunteer with LAFF to experience working in International Development, living abroad and learning a new language. Or at least attempting to learn a new language.

Andreas with the former fundraising coordinator Alex on a walk to the remote inca ruin of choquequirao

As LAFF’s Communications Coordinator, and later taking on the role of Fundraising Coordinator, I have immensely enjoyed my work and learnt an incredible amount.

Communications is about telling a story, and LAFF has quite a story to tell. The young people and organisations we support are achieving great things under difficult circumstances. Faced with abuse, neglect and discrimination before arriving at our partner organisations, the young people are carving out a future for themselves that defies their past, whilst our organisations do remarkable work, helping the young people overcome these barriers. And LAFF is right there in the thick of it, paying the school fees, educating the young people in the ‘soft skills’ they will need to get a job and helping the organisations become more sustainable and effective.

We have also commented on social issues, with blogs about the ‘Ni Una Menos’ demonstration against violence towards women and other articles on topics such as children’s rights. LAFF works in an environment that is not always in agreement of our aims to educate and empower young boys and girls who have suffered abuse and discrimination, and it is important that we are commenting on the movements and initiatives that are aiming to tackle the systemic issues behind our work.

I’ve also helped out with LAFF’s fundraising, grant writing and dabbled in some marketing for our partner organisations social enterprises. I’ve even assisted with an art workshop; as one of the young women at the Sacred Valley Project put it: ‘He doesn’t understand what is going on, but he is helping.’ I guess I’ll just have to take that one on the chin.

Andreas next to a glacier on one of the many walks he did throughout the Sacred Valley

To me, LAFF’s work is an interesting model for the International Development sector; one which I think by-passes many of the issues plagues by the sector, like working in opposition to local communities or only applying a sticking plaster to the issues it aims to resolve. LAFF’s ethos of working through local partner organisations, making them more sustainable through social enterprises, as well as cost reduction initiatives providing training for their staff, leaves a long-lasting legacy; a legacy where the organisations and young people can move towards a future independent of outside support.

Grudgingly, I am about to briefly return to the UK, but I leave Peru optimistic about the future of LAFF, the young people and organisations we support, and this incredible country.

Andreas Sampson Geroski – 17th November 2016

Children’s Rights in Peru

“Mankind owes to the Child the best that it has to give”

These words are enshrined in the Declaration of the Rights of the Child, proclaimed by the United Nations General Assembly on 20th November 1959. Thirty years later, on the same date, these fundamental rights became legally binding when the General Assembly unanimously adopted the Convention on the Rights of the Child.

The Convention has been instrumental in providing a common framework and global agenda for the development of children, influencing the policy of NGOs and states alike.

On 20thNovember each year the United Nations marks these landmark moments through Universal Children’s Day, which aims to promote the ideals of the Convention and the welfare of children across the globe. The fundamental rights proclaimed by the Convention include the right to an education, to health care and to be protected from violence and exploitation. In essence, the Convention declares the right of children to grow up in a safe and nurturing environment and achieve their full potential.

The boys at Azul Wasi at a LAFF workshop – education is part of the human rights

The Convention is the most widely ratified human rights treaty in history, with virtually all nations signed up, including Peru. Yet today it is all too common that these rights are violated.

A recent report on Peru by the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child highlighted a number of areas for concern. Whilst it welcomed the adoption of a national plan of action for children and increased resources to implement this, the report identified many hardships which Peruvian children continue to face. It noted that “patriarchal attitudes and deep-rooted stereotypes that discriminate against girls” have resulted in a “prevalence” of violence against girls, including domestic and sexual violence. The report highlights the deficiencies in the protection system for victims of child abuse, due to a lack of resources.

Furthermore, it expresses concern that education is not accessible to all Peruvian children. In particular, there are lower enrolment rates for children living in rural areas and high rates of school dropouts for girls, especially those who become pregnant.

Improving the lives of Peruvian children and safeguarding their rights is central to LAFF’s work. LAFF supports two homes for vulnerable young people; Casa Mantay, a home for adolescent mothers in Cusco, and Azul Wasi in Oropesa, which provides a home for abandoned boys who have lived on the streets. Both these projects help children who have been denied their fundamental rights.

The young women at Casa Mantay have all been victims of abuse, neglect or discrimination. With their families unable or unwilling to support them the girls have been thrust into adulthood and forced to face severe hardship at an early age. Casa Mantay provides a safe environment for the girls to raise their children as well as providing emotional and practical support. Similarly, before coming to Azul Wasi, many of the boys have suffered violence, exploitation and abuse. The home reclaims their right to live in a safe and nurturing environment where they can be children again.

Young women at Casa Mantay discuss a piece of work during a LAFF literacy skills workshop

Another key purpose of both homes is to ensure the young people they house receive an education. The right to an education for all children, regardless of their background, is a key principle of the Convention.  The girls living at Casa Mantay have generally had their schooling interrupted due to the abuse they have suffered and the home allows them to continue their studies. LAFF also provides vocational training through workshops which enable the girls to further develop their skills and achieve independence in the future. At Azul Wasi the costs of school enrolment, uniform and other resources are provided for and the home also has a small library, laptops and a tutor to facilitate their studies.

The Convention on the Rights of the Child envisages children not as passive objects of charity but as individuals who have the right to a positive upbringing which promotes their personal development. Projects like Casa Mantay and Azul Wasi are crucial to fulfilling this goal for some of Peru’s most vulnerable children. With their help such children are able to enjoy their childhood and go on to have a successful and independent future.

Becky Morton, Remote LAFF volunteer – 10th November 2016


Breaking down the barriers to female education

Just 3 in 10 Peruvian girls from rural Andean communities enrol into secondary school. This is a statistic that should worry us all.

Whilst there has been a growing awareness in recent years of the need to address gender inequality in Peruvian education, significant barriers still remain. The challenges are particularly great for girls growing up in traditional rural communities.  These remote communities often lack access to basic public services such as education. Secondary schools tend to only be located in town centres, which are too far away to travel to on foot. When funds are limited, families too often prioritise the education of boys. As a result girls are less likely to continue their studies than their male counterparts.

A young girl from the SVP project enjoying a joke with a LAFF volunteer

Sacred Valley Project, one of LAFF’s partners, is working to change this. The project works with girls from low-income families in the remote mountain communities of the Sacred Valley, who show academic potential but are unable to access secondary education without the charity’s support. The project provides safe accommodation, educational resources and support to the girls to enable to them to continue their studies.

The project now runs two dormitories for girls in the towns of Ollantaytambo and Calca. The girls are able to live in the dormitories during the week whilst they attend school and then return to their villages at weekends or during the holidays to spend time with their families. In Calca girls come from communities which are as far as three hours by car or six hours by foot. Without the provision of accommodation in the town, they simply would not be able to continue their studies.

Young women from the SVP project working together at a LAFF workshop

However the dormitories are much more than just a place to sleep. The girls also benefit from extra support and a nurturing environment to ease their transition to their new school and what is often a very different way of life. Many children from rural communities do not speak Spanish as their first language and may be used to studying in the indigenous language of Quechua. The dormitories therefore provide a Quechua-speaking school tutor to help the girls cope with the increased academic demands they face and achieve their full potential. LAFF also helps run workshops at the dormitories in topics such as self-esteem to develop the soft skills that are essential to their development.

Two young women from the SVP project working during a LAFF workshop

As well as practical barriers to accessing secondary education, girls from rural communities also face the challenge of traditional gender norms which see men as the head of the household. As a result the education and careers of women are often not prioritised. By providing an education to rural girls, Sacred Valley Project helps to instil the value of female education and challenge prejudices. When they return to their families, educated girls have a higher earning potential which can in turn benefit their communities. Research by UNICEF has also found educated women are more likely to ensure their own children receive a good education, creating a domino effect and a virtuous circle.

Female education doesn’t just enable individuals to achieve their potential, it can help to break the cycle of poverty and improve the lives of future generations in their communities for years to come. This is why the work of LAFF and the Sacred Valley Project is so essential.

Written by Becky Morton

Monday 24th October 2016