Latin American Foundation for the Future

We are Recruiting!

Are you passionate about international development?

LAFF is recruiting for a Programme Manager, to manage our Peru-based programmes run in conjunction with local partner organisations that support marginalised children and young people. Working together with our team of national and international volunteers, you will plan, implement, monitor, evaluate and communicate progress on a range of education and sustainability projects; help us build our social enterprises, personal development workshops and internal capacity to continue to support our local partners. Based in Cusco, Peru, the Programme Manager is the main point of contact on the ground and manages all communications with our international board of trustees and supporters.

Please see full job description, requirements and how to apply here. Applicants will be considered on a rolling basis.


Sostenibilidad en Perú

Este año Perú ha visto un aumento significante en el desarrollo de energía sostenible con la creación de la más grande central de energía solar en el país, Rubí, localizada en Moquegua.

Este evento marca un cambio optimista de la actitud de Perú desde el punto de vista de sus fuentes de energía renovables y la habilidad de visualizar un futuro sostenible donde incluso las comunidades más rurales podrían tener acceso al electricidad.

El clima y el medio ambiente de Perú son perfectos para la energía solar, con un porcentaje significativo del país cubierto por regiones desérticas o montañosas. La nueva planta de energía solar generará 440GWh por año, el equivalente al uso anual de 351,000 hogares peruanos (ENEL Green Power 2016).

Las principales fuentes de energía del país son hidroeléctricas y gas natural. La hidroelectricidad en principio puede parecer sostenible. Sin embargo, , la desglaciación de los nevados del Perú causado por, entre otras cosas, el calentamiento global, significa que las reservas de agua para la generación de electricidad (y su consumo) están en constante debilitamiento. Además, los daños que las represas hidroeléctricas tienen en el medioambiente suelen ser perjudiciales para la vida natural y para las comunidades que viven en la zona debido a las inundaciones y la interrupción del flujo natural del agua. De hecho, La Comisión Mundial de Represas estima que el número de personas a nivel mundial desplazadas por represas hidroeléctricas cae entre 40 y 80 millones  han desplazado (Earths Rights International, 2014).

 La nueva planta de energía solar, Rubí,  es un gran avance  de la nación en términos de transicionar a energías más sostenibles y  accesibles para todos.

 Un problema grave para el país es proveer electricidad a algunas de las comunidades más rurales debido a la naturaleza difícil del paisaje. Las comunidades que viven en regiones montañosas y en el Amazonas a menudo se quedan sin electricidad. Estas comunidades suelen ser de las más pobres de Perú y su situación de vulnerabilidad se ve empeorado  por la falta de acceso a la electricidad. El cambio hacia la energía solar podría marcar una oportunidad de empoderamiento para estas poblaciones.

 La energía solar es una de las formas más inclusivas de distribución de energía, ya que puede implementarse a gran escala, como Rubí, o a nivel individual. Un ejemplo concreto de cómo la energía solar puede tener un gran impacto en las vidas en Perú, y en particular en la región de Cusco, está en como una de nuestras organizaciones socias, Sacred Valley Project, ha instalado calentadores de agua solares para dar acceso a agua caliente a 47 niñas  en Ollantaytambo y Calca. Con pequeños y grandes acciones hacia la transición a energías más sostenibles y renovables, se logrará mejorar la calidad de vida y del medioambiente del país.

English Version

Peru has seen a significant increase in sustainable energy development this year with the creation of the largest solar power plant in the country, Rubí located in Moquegua.

This marks a hopeful change in Peru’s attitude over its power sources and its ability to envision a sustainable future where even the most rural communities have access to electricity.

Peru’s climate and environment are perfect for solar energy with a significant percentage of the country covered by desert or mountainous regions. The new solar power plant will create 440GWh per year, the equivalent of the annual usage of 351,000 Peruvian households.(ENEL Green Power 2016)

The countries main power sources are hydroelectric and natural gas. Although hydroelectricity may seem sustainable the slow diminishing of Peru’s glaciers due to, among other things, global warming, mean that the reserves of water for creating electricity (and drinking) are on a steady decline. Moreover the damage hydroelectric dams have on the environment are often detrimental to natural life and to the communities that live in the area due to flooding and the stopping of the natural flow of water. The World Commision for Dams estimates that  the number of displaced people caused by hydroelectric dams falls between 40 and 80 million people.(Earth’s Rights International 2014)

The new solar power plant, Rubí, is great progress for the nation in terms of the transition to more sustainable and accessible energy.

A major problem for the country is providing electricity to some of the most rural communities due to the difficult nature of the landscape. People living in mountainous regions and in the Amazon are often left without electricity. These communities are often some of the poorest Peru and their vulnerable situation is made worse by their lack of access to electricity. This shift towards solar energy could mark a chance for empowerment of these people.

Solar energy is one of the most inclusive forms of energy distribution as it can be implemented on a large scale such as Rubí, or on an individual level. A concrete example of how solar energy can have a huge impact on lives in Peru, in particular in the Cusco region, is with one of our partner organisations, the Sacred Valley Project, who have installed solar powered water heaters for 47 girls in Ollantaytambo and Calca. Every action little or small within the transition towards sustainable energy with help improve the quality of life, and the environment here in Peru.


Finding soul in the corporate machine

An account by Dawid, recent volunteer here at LAFF who made the big leap from his usual 9-5 to working with LAFF. He offers a valuable insight on the transition, his experience and the struggles of small NGO’s.

Find the unedited version here:


My previous job was as a JavaScript Developer in a small team of a behavioural marketing company.  I became Senior Data Analyst and was able to do what I really liked: managing databases, coding, querying, generating reports, graphs, and all that has to do with data.

There was, however, a part of me that has always longed for something different. Part of me knew that my job was good and secure, and for most of my life I thought that is all one needed. The other part had always wanted to break free, work in social development or non-profit sector, but having no academic background, therefore a very limited network, I could not see a way to step into that world.

After many long discussions with a dear friend of mine about the possibilities of transitioning my skills to a non profit I decided to undertake a short volunteering trip in Nepal where I learnt that being with people focused around the same cause and equally dedicated to do something about it, meant much more than just a good paycheck.

And so I wondered: could I push myself to work in a place where I would feel like that every day? I decided to take action. I spent countless hours researching what I could do to get into the non-profit sector and that is how I stumbled upon MovingWorlds. Their mission resonated with me as much as it could. I wanted to volunteer, expand, and adapt my specific skills to the social development world.


Experteering that changed my world

One of the projects I found on MovingWorlds and was accepted to, was Monitoring & Evaluation Coordinator position at LAFF.

What has data analytics in common with monitoring and evaluation – you might ask? Thanks to my friend’s advice, a lot of pushing, and enormous amount of believing in me, I started learning more about how traditional M&E changes its nature nowadays to be even more data-focused and progress further in the “era of data”. After a few courses,  I began to see a clear path where I can fit in that world. For the first time in years I felt like I had a clear goal.

During my placement in Cusco I had a job interview with an organisation from New York and I remember vividly when I was asked the following question: “What, in your opinion, are main differences when working for an NGO and working in a corporate environment?”. I did not have to think twice about it. Working for LAFF reminded me of the golden years of my previous employment, the first three years of a startup when there was a handful of people and twice as many jobs to do. Thanks to the prevailing and common mindset “do whatever is necessary for the good of the team” we did everything we had to, but we did it because we wanted to – and that made all the difference.

Very important fact is that LAFF learned very quickly that my skill set does not end on data and M&E by asking questions that normally would never be asked. They had specific needs but they were never a top priority to fill volunteer positions but in my case of a “tech guy”, they asked me about them a few weeks before my arrival.

It turned out I had exactly what they needed. The organisation was in the middle of Salesforce implementation that was taking ages. Once they found out I have the skills needed to progress with it, my priorities and focus changed. Adaptability of an organisation kicked in big time and I was impressed by it. You need something, you have somebody who matches your needs – you act on it, you do not wait around for weeks to see if it is right. I was given the responsibility, trust, and I have never felt better.


It’s a trap

Small, volunteer-led organisations do not have capacity to hire many professionals these days, and to be honest – the technology trap is still out there because it is a no brainer whether an organisation should pay a fundraising expert or a technician. Technology is still considered to be a very difficult area of life for most people and it’s partly the reason why non-profit organisations find themselves in the so called “technology trap”.

The study published in 2016 by OECD (the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development) explored the distribution of users’ computer skills and unfortunately only 5% of the population (almost quarter of a million of people were surveyed in 33 countries) have high computer-related abilities.

While having worked for LAFF I realised that there is a big talent gap between small and mid-sized NGOs and those big ones that can afford technical staff thus leading to the conclusion that experteers like me have an important role to play. My 5.5 months were filled with work, ideas, improvements, discussions, but also knowledge sharing and advocacy about important technological issues (security for example).

I am glad I was and still am part of LAFF’s digital transformation that will hopefully take them one step further to be more advanced, productive, and independent in regards to technology.


Soul in the machine

My main goal was to find a place where I can feel included again, feel like the work I’m doing not only matters but is also creating a positive change. Experteering with LAFF has fully brought those feelings back and I have felt like I was on a new path. Where is it leading? I have no idea but the path feels right and it has led me to my next experteering project, this time for MovingWorlds.

I know how hard it is to see yourself changing your career or even wanting to be involved in the “other” world. Sometimes it is difficult to do it on your own and not everybody would be lucky to have those around who’d give you the final push.
Making the leap is never a quick decision you make in the heat of a moment, even when some people paint it that way it is never like that. Let the idea grow in you, explore, talk to people, past experteers, leaders in non-profit sector, your friends who perhaps volunteered before. Find a place you would like to see yourself in, whether it’s a 6-month experteering project, a new career, or a yearly holiday that instead of lying on the beach, you can spend making a real difference, and go for it!

Most of us, especially technicians, developers, and admins, work in some kind of corporate environment that just feeds the big machine. We all know we have to pay our bills, support our families, and save some dough for our future but thanks to the opportunities of working with organisations like LAFF and MovingWorlds you can not only find but most importantly be the soul in that machine.

International Women’s Day

A world free from gender discrimination…an absurd ideology that can never be achieved, or a possible dream that just requires a united objective and an open heart?

Yesterday we joined the UN in recognising International Women’s Day, a day to highlight the universal human right that every women and girl should be free from discrimination. First celebrated in the 1990s, every 8th of March, the world comes together to call for change and to celebrate acts of courage and determination by ordinary women who have contributed to the advancement of women’s rights and played an extraordinary role in the history of their countries and communities. With the theme for this year being “the time is now: Rural and urban activists transforming women’s lives”, I write today to discuss the issue of gender inequality, focusing on the issues for rural women as it ties in closely to LAFF’s goals.

Throughout the colonial period, early years of independence and disappointingly still today, social, economic and political discrimination severely affects women in Peru. The World Economic Forum highlights that out of 144 countries, Peru has the 111th lowest score for Women’s Economic Participation and Opportunity (2016). In 2010 there were 135 instances of femicide in the country with seventy percent of the victims being killed by their partners. This means that statistically, more than ten women are killed every month as a consequence of extreme violence (Peru Support Group, 2010). Additionally, sexual violence has been and continues to be a serious issue in Peru with 12% of women reporting to have been forced to have sex at least once in their life.

While gender inequality has detrimental effects on both rural and urban women- the restrictive access to education in rural communities leaves rural women to be at the highest risk of discrimination, violence etc. For example, only 31.8% of women are landholders, and while the global pay gap between men and women stands at 23%, in rural areas of Peru, it can be up to 40%. Rural women are the most vulnerable in conflict situations. For example, during the Fujimori led counter-insurgency in the 1990s rural communities faced the largest share of violence. Rural women, especially, were targeted. Furthermore, Fujimori’s administration led a controversial and brutal policy of forced sterilisations of largely rural, indigenous women; a policy which has now been described by the UN as genocide.

These worrying statistics are prohibiting Peruvians to live in a just and equitable society. This is why our work at LAFF is so important and strives to reduce these inequalities one day at a time. Casa Mantay, one of our partner organisations works to support teenagers who have suffered various forms of violence, including sexual abuse, and are often rejected by society and, at times, their own families. In the rural communities that most of these mothers come from, there is often a general state of isolation, deprivation of education and a degradative attitude towards girls and women. Although having to overcome extremely difficult circumstances, the Casa Mantay environment allows the girls to have the support they need to become independent, strong women. For example, the girls are all given psychological support so that their mental health is less likely to prevent them from raising their children in the most positive way. The two Social Enterprises (Taller Mantay & Arte Floral) that the project created, intends for the girls to be able to learn transferable skills and to empower them so that they leave the house prepared for adult life.  Additionally, yesterday the mothers and volunteers of Casa Mantay united in the streets of Cusco to march for International Women’s Day. Inspiring to see such strong girls, who all have the same dream to achieve gender equality.

March 8th, International Women’s Day march with the mothers from Casa Mantay

The Sacred Valley Project (SVP), is another partner organisation that promotes education to be able to facilitate the leap of empowerment for rural girls. Due to the isolation that is associated with rural communities, girls often have to walk hours to be able to reach their primary school. Often, as high schools tend, only be situated in big cities, this option often is restricted to boys (who due to their higher status, are often able to move to urban areas to get a more advanced education). Through recognising that education is the foundation for building a brighter future, SVP invests some of their funds into tutors. With Quechua being many of the girls’ first languages, the tutors are provided to enable to girls to be able to succeed with their studies without being at a disadvantage due to the language barrier. Through speaking with the students at SVP it is always inspiring to hear their dreams and aspirations. The united drive they all share reiterates that they are not weak or suppressed girls that will allow inequality to divert them away from achieving their goals.

Although we at LAFF are motivated to contribute to the advancement of gender equality, we are not the only ones! Despite the unsettling statistics presented above, International Women’s Day embarks on success stories that females hold. Through the last years, great advancements have been made for women in Peru, both in rural and urban communities. We primarily note the Miss Peru 2017 beauty pageant- an event which is normally criticised for its sexist and patriarchal views of women. Instead of giving their body size measurements, they instead gave hard-hitting facts about sexual violence at a protest to the grave issue so prevalent in Peru. Rural activism is also on the rise as well as innovative entrepreneurship programmes that rural women have created and sustained. One notable example is The Calmañana Cooperative that is made up of 17 women farmers in the southern province of Canelones. The members of the cooperative not only supply local supermarkets but export their products to Europe and form part of the national certification board for organic products.

While it is notable that progress has and can be made, there is a still a long & challenging road ahead for gender equality in Peru. Intertwined with our objectives, we at LAFF strongly advocate education as the driving force to bridge the gap that gender inequality has created. Research continues to show that education of girls will not only increase their own salaries but also is a vital part of the reduction of poverty. Therefore, if our support continues, girls can leave the education system with ideally, the same qualifications as their male counterparts. Although this is a critical aspect of gender inequality that needs to be embarked upon, it is not enough. Education of attitudes for both urban and rural communities also needs to be tackled. Even if girls are receiving a higher standard of education, it becomes futile if we do not see changes to this patriarchal view against women. Every women & man should do their best to promote the rights of women, whether this is attending a women’s march, speaking out against sexist attitudes or just learning more about the daily injustices committed against women. As I mentioned in the first line, one day at a time, a united goal and an open heart, we can hopefully begin to see this just and equitable society, that so many of us have dreamed of living in.

Can Quechua be saved? The importance of Peru’s ancient language.

21st February is the United Nation’s International Mother Language Day, a worldwide annual observance to promote awareness of linguistic and cultural diversity and to promote multilingualism. As a vital aspect of life, this year at LAFF, we are joining our voice with all those celebrating the importance of linguistic diversity. Language is of crucial importance to communication, social identity and integration, as well as being vital to education, business, and the public sphere.  Yet, among the roughly 7,000 languages worldwide, as many as half are expected to die out within a few generations. Unfortunately, Quechua is one of these at-risk languages.


Peru is known for being a Spanish-speaking country and is primarily used in education and politics. However, Spanish is only one of three official languages and a second to many citizens. There is an official language, just as important (especially to many of the children that LAFF supports), and even more historic which is starting to disappear, Quechua. Quechua dates all the way back to the Incan Empire, predating the Spanish conquest of the Incas. It was the official language that unified the territory of what is now Peru, Ecuador, Chile and Argentina, and it was the city of Cusco that was the center of this Empire. Still today, it is estimated that there are as many as eight to ten million native speakers in the region.

 After the Spanish Colonization (1532-1572), Quechua was suppressed as it was a symbol of the “indigenous civilization”. However, it was brought back once Peru gained its independence in 1821. In May of 1975, during the government of Juan Alvarado Velasquez, Quechua was recognized by the Peruvian government as an official language, highlighting its importance as a part of the Andean community’s identity and especially as a part of the Peruvian heritage.  Through its recognition of being an official language, they have a human right, recognised by the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, to protect and promote their culture and language free from unfair discrimination.


However, nowadays there are only some regions with high numbers of Quechua speakers that are steadily decreasing as time goes by. There also seems to be an incoherence in trying to maintain Peruvian culture alive whilst integrating Quechua in people’s daily lives. Even though Peruvians are proud of their unique Inca Culture, this does not reflect in the preservation of their unique native language. Unfortunately, it is not uncommon for Peruvian’s to have a negative attitude towards Quechua; going as far as perceiving it as an archaic language spoken only in “uncommunicated” and “rural” areas.

Quechua, not being the focal language of education, business and politics is a disadvantage encountered by their native speakers, such as the girls supported by Sacred Valley Project, one of LAFF’s partner organisations. Due to the language barrier, it is harder for the girls to learn at school and, later in life, more difficult for them to access university and job opportunities.  It also leaves them largely excluded from political processes that are vital for them to understand and claim their rights, and those of their communities.  By providing additional tutoring, and help with language skills by native Quechua speakers, Sacred Valley Project helps these girls master both languages and to balance the demands of a globalised world with the desire to maintain their distinctive culture and identity.  In doing so, they are helping to protect their mother tongue well into the future – we are proud to support them.

The girls at Sacred Valley Project

To protect and preserve Quechua language it is important that we stand up for it. To reach children, we must first start by reaching adults. Encourage them to share the language with the younger population and, if possible, create written content in the form of journals or stories for it to be accessible to everyone. Quechua teachers should also be encouraged to continue to educate children and material should be developed to share with their students. For those of us who are non-Quechua speakers, this native language should be respected, and admired for its ability to have maintained its authenticity and tradition through the passing of time.


Quechua is not a language that should keep us apart, but a language that should bring us all together.


The Pardoning of Alberto Fujimori

Recently for Peruvians, there has been plenty of reasons to celebrate for many sectors of Peruvian society. The football fans were lifted by the national football team’s qualification for the first time in 36 years to the World Cup; this was topped off by the news that the doping ban against their star player, Paolo Guerrero was lifted. For the Catholics of Peru – who according to a Vox Populi poll represent 76% of the population – the recent visit of the Pope was a proud moment with a closing mass in Lima attended by over one million devotees. The most striking cause for celebration is the buoyant Peruvian economy; for a few years, its economy has been making gains on some of its more developed neighbours. It also seems that 2018 will be no different with the Americas Society forecasting a sturdy growth rate of 3.5% second only to Bolivia in South America.


However, a dark and divisive shadow looms large over the Latin American nation. For a nation apparently concerned only by its future, a figure from Peru’s tumultuous past in now threatening the stability of the Andean nation. Ex-President Alberto Fujimori, who was the hard-line President of Peru from 1990 to 2000, was released from prison on Christmas Eve after receiving a pardon from the current President, Pedro Kuczynski. Peruvian law allows the president to permit a humanitarian pardon when a jailed person has a terminal illness where prison would pose a serious risk to immediate health. This pardon was carried out on Christmas Eve and has since been coined as the “indulto de navidad” (“Christmas pardon”).

 In 2009, Fujimori was sentenced to 25 years in prison after being found guilty for human rights violations. This verdict was based on his role in killings and kidnappings by the Grupo Colina death squad, which was believed to be under the control of Fujimori. The death squad committed various human rights violations, during just eight-months in 1991/92 it was responsible for the killings of 34 people in the Barrios Altos massacre, the Santa massacre, and the La Canuta massacre. This guilty verdict marked a world first as the first time that an elected head of state had ever been convicted of human rights violations. Specifically, he was found guilty of murder, bodily harm, and two cases of kidnapping. 

Fujimori himself remains an extremely divisive figure in Peru owing to his perceived successes during his presidency. Above all, he is credited with putting an end to the bloody insurgency that had gripped and dominated Peru from the early 1980s. During the unprecedented election that saw Fujimori win the presidency 25% of Peru’s district and provincial council chose not to hold elections in reaction to a campaign of assassination, during which over 100 officials were killed by insurgency groups. In the 12 years leading up to 1992, the guerrilla insurgency group, Sendero Luminoso (Shining Path) had claimed the lives of approximately 20,000 lives. Many Peruvians credit Fujimori with ending the fifteen-year insurgency. To do this he granted sweeping powers to the military including military courts and detention without trial. 

 Additionally, Fujimori is credited with restoring stability to the country after years of hyperinflation under previous administrations, reaching 7,649% in 1990 under Alan García. Fujimori’s neoliberal reforms were felt to be responsible for attracting businesses and high-growth to the Peruvian economy. In the years from 1992 to 2001 GDP grew at an annual average rate of 3.76%, and statistics from the INEI (national statistics office) show a decrease in the number of impoverished Peruvians from 70% in 1990 to 54% at the end of Fujimori’s presidency.

 Despite these successes, Fujimori is perhaps one of the most divisive figures in Peruvian society. Although he is credited with ending the internal conflict in Peru the way he did this seriously compromised fundamental rights. By granting the military the powers of detention without trial, and the establishment of military courts he eroded the democratic and human right to an open trial. Furthermore, critics say that in their path to victory the Peruvian military committed various human rights violations, with most of the victims tending to be poor rural communities caught between the fire of the military and the insurgents. A report published in 2003 by the Peruvian Truth and Reconciliation Commission found the military guilty of killing rural inhabitants and destroying their communities.


In the period between the years of 1996 and 2000, Fujimori’s government carried out a campaign of forced sterilisation under the guise of family planning. Over 215,000 people, entirely indigenous, and mostly women were forced or coerced into sterilisation programmes, most of which carried out without the use of anaesthesia. This mass sterilisation of indigenous populations is an act of not just a serious violation of human rights, but genocide. 


Fujimori’s neoliberal economic policies which are claimed to have lifted Peru out of hyperinflation and stagnation have also garnered much controversy. His economic policies benefited first and foremost, businesses and the wealthy. His neoliberal reforms are often said to have acted as sweeteners to powerful businesses and elites to secure his third term in office. Critics observe that the GDP growth under Fujimori was not a response to his reforms but to the greater rate of extraction of mineral wealth by foreign companies; consequentially, little of this wealth has remained in Peru. The wave of privatisation initiated by Fujimori is surrounded by controversy, with one congressional investigation claiming that only a small fraction of the $9 billion USD raised through these privatisations benefitting the Peruvian people. In 2004 the Global Transparency Report labelled Fujimori as the seventh most corrupt world leader through his amassing of $600 million USD.

 Fujimori’s pardon could not have come at a more inconvenient time. Keiko, his daughter is the leader of the political party, Popular Force which is a strong adherent of Fujimorismo; she was narrowly beaten by Kuczynski in the 2016 presidential election. In December she led the impeachment attempt in response to accusations of corruption as part of the Odebrecht scandal, in which the president is accused of receiving kickbacks from a Brazilian construction company. However, Kuczynski survived the impeachment with the help of Kenji, Fujimori’s son, who convinced nine politicians to vote against impeachment. Coincidentally, but not for many, Kuczynski, days after surviving impeachment thanks to Kenji Fujimori signed the document that officially pardons Alberto Fujimori of his human rights violations. Many believe that Keiko Fujimori’s impeachment attempt was stopped by her brother in order to release his father from prison.


This saga has disillusioned many Peruvians but above all rural and indigenous communities of Peru who were affected most by the policies enacted by Fujimori and the crimes he committed. The trivialisation of Fujimori’s conviction which is now being used as a political tool and a route for self-preservation by the current president risks reversing the conciliation process that has been underway in Peru since the end of the internal conflict.



Since the pardoning, four major street protests have taken place, lamenting the decision to give Fujimori a pardon. This has reduced confidence in the current political order of Peru. This affair has raised grave concerns about who now can continue Peru’s path. For businesses, there is no answer and the worst enemy of business in uncertainty. This act of apparent selfishness by Kuczynski in releasing a convicted human rights abuser so that he can remain in government runs the risk of jeopardising the until now certain path of growth and prosperity for Peru. 

Sources and further reading

Ten most corrupt leaders:

Sterilisation scandal:

Historical Peruvian GDP growth:

Protests against Fujiori pardon:

Religion in Peru:

Peruvian and South American growth predictions:

Barrios Altos massacre:

International perspective on Fujimori pardon:

Historical inflation of Peru:

Peruvian Truth and Reconciliation Comission Report:

Pope’s arrival in Peru:

Extent of insurgency in Peru: Freeman, Michael. Freedom Or Security: The Consequences for Democracies Using Emergency Powers. 2003, p. 150.

Elvira’s Success Story

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.





International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women

On Saturday, November 25th, the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women saw people of all genders and ages take to the streets in what has become an annual march in Latin America. The ‘Ni Una Menos’ movement began in Argentina two years ago and last August they staged their first march in Lima in what was then deemed to be the biggest demonstration in Peruvian history. The feminist movement began after the murder of a 19-year-old woman in Buenos Aires, to signify that “not one (woman) less” would be tolerated. The movement has continued to grow over the last two years and it highlights the vast extent to which violence against women and femicide are normalised in Latin American society. This year’s march in Lima saw a significant increase in participants from last year, reflecting the impact of several campaigns that have gone viral throughout the year highlighting the same issue.

One of the most prominent of these campaigns to affect Peru (and the continent as a whole) was#MisMedidasSon, a campaign started by the organisers and participants of Peru’s annual beauty pageant. Miss Perú took place last month on October 29th, and since its airing, this year’s event has attracted far more international media attention than ever before. The contest usually begins with the potential beauty queens stepping forward to introduce themselves, after which they announce their waist, hip and bust measurements. This year, however, the 23 participating contestants decided upon sharing some rather different figures with their audiences. The women each stepped forward, gave their names and hometowns, and followed this with some truly horrifying statistics on violence against women in Peru

Camila Canicoba, Miss Peru Lima, stepped forward to announce “Mis medidas son 2202 casos de feminicidios reportados en los últimos nueve años en mi país” (“2202 cases of femicide reported in the last nine years in my country”). Karen Cueto declared that in 2017 alone there had already been 82 cases of femicide in Peru, and a further 156 attempted cases and Romina Lozana, the eventual winner of the contest, revealed that up until 2014, 3114 women had been victims of sex trafficking in Peru. Within moments, the hashtag #MisMedidasSon was trending across social media networks in Peru and Latin America as people reacted overwhelmingly to a long overdue public acknowledgment of the appalling state of gender violence in Peru.

Although the protest came as a surprise to audiences, the staging of it had in fact been very carefully planned. As the contestants spoke, images of women who had been abused were displayed on a giant screen behind them, indicating that the event organisers had played a hand in bucking the pageant trend. The last few years have seen a number of investigations and studies conducted into gender violence in Peru, with El Comercio releasing a study just this morning to reveal that between 2013 and 2017, the number of cases of violence against women has risen by 78.4% and that in 2017 alone there have been 2,480 attacks against girls under the age of 18. In light of this, the United Nations has called on Peru to make efforts to change its attitudes towards women.

Whilst #MisMedidasSon has attracted a phenomenal amount of attention over the last month, the movement did begin on a televised beauty pageant. After the women in question had finished so passionately announcing their statistics, some skeptics have notably drawn attention to the fact that the cameras continued to zoom in on their surgically enhanced breasts and their artificially whitened teeth. True believers in this movement are forced to question why the pageant was not stopped altogether if its purpose was really to impact change? If Romina Lozana is such an advocate for gender equality, why did she proceed to participate in an event which for years has been a defining symbol of discrimination?

The action implemented by Peru and Latin America so far has been hugely positive, however, a lot of work still remains to be done. The difference between the attention paid to women who have suffered abuse in the developed and developing world is still deeply troubling. The UK and USA offer hundreds of helplines, shelters and counseling services for the many women that are affected. In Peru, support services are minimal and victims must report their cases within 72 hours and demonstrate evidence of sexual or physical violence for their reports to be considered by the judicial system. Most incidents, therefore, go unreported due to fear, shame or simply lack of connectivity for those living in remote areas.

There are a number of ‘casas de acogida’ (shelters) in Peru for women who have suffered at the hands of not only their aggressors, but attitudes perpetuated by society which associate survivors with notions of shame and dishonour. These houses provide a place of sanctuary for survivors, whilst allowing them to develop personal and employable skills, refusing to allow their futures to be defined by the abuse they have experienced. Unfortunately, there are only 39 such ‘casas’ across Peru, with only 11 being administered by local governments. This means that in total they are only able to house 20% of victims who are seek help, meaning the remaining 80% are often left unattended and alone (in Peru women are frequently disowned by their own families after reporting abuse, and can be left homeless and penniless). For this reason, now more than ever it is crucial for the statistics of violence to be talked about as far and wide as possible. The more awareness that can be generated at a global scale, the more women that can be protected from a system that is inherently machista and sexist. One of LAFF’s own partner projects is a casa de acogida based in Cusco, named Casa Mantay, and you can read more about the project or donate here.

#MisMedidasSon and #NiUnaMenos both echo the #MeToo or #YoTambién trends that were flooding social media feeds globally just a number of weeks ago. Every hashtag is becoming a call to arms and a catalyst for a mini-revolution – a chance for survivors to unashamedly tell their stories; a chance for awareness campaigns to become action campaigns; a chance to take one step closer to equality.

In 2017, headlines of sexual harassment have become a regular feature. Suzanne Moore recently named the experience of sexual harassment as having become a backdrop to the lives of many women, explaining that we had numbed to it for fear of allowing constant thoughts upon it to immobilise us. However, I believe the opposite. Silence propagates nothing. The more we meditate upon our experiences of harassment, be that as victims, witnesses or even perpetrators, the more we are able to expose the problems that are desperate to be dealt with. Whilst recent allegations against Hollywood moguls such as Harvey Weinstein, Kevin Spacey and Dustin Hoffman have rocked the entertainment industry and horrified many – the fact that they have become public knowledge is imperative in starting conversations surrounding sexual violence.

Despite its ironies and criticisms, never has a platform as great as Miss Perú been used to catapult these essential discussions into the open. In a country where gender inequality is engrained in the national character, this stand taken by the organisers of the pageant was a monumental and historic one. Although questions remain to be asked about the segments in the show such as swimsuit competitions and talent rounds, audiences of feminists and non-feminists alike cannot fail to commend the immensity of using a platform such as Miss Perú to start such a long overdue lobby.  An acknowledgement of statistics such as those presented in the contest has never occurred at such a wide scale, and the results of this can be seen immediately in the ever-increasing population of those who wish to participate in events such as the #NiUnaMenos march, proving slow but steady steps towards establishing a redemptive and celebratory attitude towards women in the developing world.

LAFF’s Innovative Approach to Sustainability

Former LAFF volunteer and current LAFF ambassador, Catriona Spaven-Donn recently gave a presentation at the Edinburgh University Sustainable Development Conference. Highlighting LAFF’s innovative strategies to promote sustainable development, Catriona pre-recorded her presentation, which was then shown at the conference. You can watch her presentation here.

At LAFF we only work through partnership with local organisations and support them in becoming self-sufficient through capacity building, income generation and cost reduction strategies. Not only this, but we also help empower the young people at the partner organisations to become independent adults by facilitating their access to secondary and higher education and by delivering engaging workshops to build their soft skills. Previous workshops have focused on self-discovery through art, developing confidence, teamwork, solving problems and improving literacy. Workshops are led by both international and local volunteers, who together provide international perspectives and participatory methodology as well as cultural knowledge and sensitivity. LAFF has recently placed a renewed focus on the monitoring and evaluation of these workshops to better monitor our support and ensure that we are always meeting the needs of the children and young people we work with.

Income generation is another of LAFF’s tools to promote sustainability among our partners. Our volunteers come equipped with business, marketing and financial management skills and work in close collaboration with our partner’s social enterprise managers. The LAFF volunteer helps address the enterprises’ most pressing needs, providing guidance as well as hands-on support. Over the years, they have managed to improve the recording of sales and expenses, conducted market research, elaborated marketing plans and established on the ground and on-line promotion strategies. This valuable support has aided the social enterprises to increase their sales and profit, resulting in the partner organisations being able to produce their own income to cover their running costs.

In addition to providing technical expertise through volunteers, LAFF has also supported partner organisations by securing funding to set up their social enterprises. In 2016 LAFF fundraised to cover the costs of ovens and machinery necessary to establish the T’anta Wasi Bakery in the touristy town of Ollantaytambo. We have high hopes for the bakery and that in the future, profits made will go towards our local partner, The Sacred Valley Project. This organisation makes secondary education available to girls from rural communities across the Sacred Valley of Cusco, providing them with accommodation, food and all educational materials they need to become bright and empowered young women.

Another one of the social enterprises we work with is Taller Mantay, a leather workshop run by our partner organisation Casa Mantay. This organisation provides legal, health, psychological and all the support needed by young mothers who have suffered sexual abuse. The workshop produces high-quality leather products and sells them in two locations in the city. In addition to providing the business with marketing expertise, LAFF acquired funding to refurbish the workshop and create an on-site shop, which has helped increase production and sales. The social enterprise not only provides and income to Casa Mantay, it also provides the young mothers living in the house the opportunity to receive training in the crafting of leather goods, and in some cases an income.

The advice provided by LAFF’s skilled volunteers has also proved to be beneficial to our local partner Mosqoy, which runs both the Tikary Youth Programme and Q’ente. Q’ente is a social enterprise that purchases traditionally made textiles from weaving collectives of women in rural communities and sells them in Peru and Canada. In 2016, LAFF provided Q’ente assistance with their financial management and marketing. This included the recommendation to host a networking dinner with key businesses in Cusco to promote the project and products. This resulted in the establishment of contracts and orders, as well as increasing local awareness of the importance of supporting weaving collectives in order to preserve culture and tradition. Likewise, LAFF’s international recognition volunteer network means that we are able to attract opportunities for our partners. For example, last year a previous LAFF volunteer put LAFF in contact with the Latin America Summit university group in Canada, which resulted in one weaving collective supported by Q’ente to receive $5,000 in funds to establish an organic dye garden.

As well as aiming to support our partner organisations to increase their income, LAFF has also helped them identify areas where running and operational costs can be reduced. Both approaches work together to increase organisational sustainability. Over 2015 and 2016, with the support of local and remote volunteers, LAFF conducted a cost reduction evaluation for our partners Azul Wasi, Mosqoy and Casa Mantay. We identified potential areas where costs could be reduced, fundraised, and coordinated the installation of solar showers. This provides the children and young people with hot water all day long as well as reduces the organisation’s electricity bill substantially.

Capacity building is another way LAFF supports self-sufficiency among our partners. In early 2017 LAFF enabled one educator from the Sacred Valley Project and one from Mosqoy to attend a workshop on methods of working with young people with trauma and teaching sexual health. The educators reported that the information learned was useful and will help them better support the young people in their care.

Based in Cusco, Peru, LAFF belongs to the regional Red Semilla Network, which unites around twenty local organisations who work with at-risk children. Members collaborate on activism and combine their individual voices to try and create policy change. In addition, they support each other with grant writing and provide capacity building workshops like the one on mentioned above. Last year a LAFF volunteer carried out a workshop on fundraising strategies for members of the network. It is hoped that by working together, the organisations can become stronger and tackle the issues that children and young people face.

To summarise our approach to fostering sustainability, at LAFF we work in partnership with local organisations, support young people in developing soft skills and self esteem, provide technical, financial and human resource support their social enterprises, cost reduction and capacity building. Helping our partners be more self-sufficient is positive on many levels from enabling them to increase their skills to having more financial resources to do their amazing work. And so to our partners, for all you do we say Thank You.

LAFF Career’s Fair 2017

Two weeks ago, LAFF held its third annual “Feria de Carreras” (Careers Fair). More than 30 young people from our five Cusco-based partner organisations were in attendance. The young people travelled from the towns of Ollantaytambo, Calca and Oropesa as well as the urban areas of San Sebastian, Larapa and San Jeronimo, into the city centre along with project leaders in order to learn about the exciting career paths that may lie ahead of them. They had the opportunity to learn about a range of careers, or for those who already had a career path in mind, the chance to talk in more detail to professionals in this sector and gain contacts, network and the possibility to gain work experience in their desired sector.

Eleven speakers were in attendance from the following career sectors: Accounting, IT, Education, Engineering, Tourism, Restaurant and Bakery Management, Cooking, Hotel Management. A representative of PRONABEC was also present, giving the young people information on how to access government scholarships. These representatives gave up their Friday evening to come along to our event and speak to the students, with the hope of informing them about their career options and inspiring them to achieve their career goals.

As the young people arrived, they were handed an information pack which contained an exercise book, pen, pencil, LAFF t-shirt, as well as several leaflets from local institutions, a CV writing guide, interview preparation guide and a guide of questions to ask the speakers. They were then invited to take part in our “photo booth” where we had a range of fun photo props for them to enjoy and get their pictures taken. After the event, we printed and gave the photos to each project, and hope that this will remind them of the fun they had!

Once everyone had arrived the evening was in full swing. LAFF’s programme manager, Melissa Wong welcomed everyone and introduced each project. This was followed by a motivational speech from local self-employed accountant, Wilmet Sonco. He gave a very inspiring speech and really knew how to keep all of the young people engaged. Then it was time for the fun to begin! Our Vocational Training Coordinators Lucas and Yolanda led with an ice-breaker which saw everyone, young people and adults alike, all on their feet, interacting and having fun. We hoped to get everyone energised before the main event, and it’s safe to say that it was a success! During the next hour, the young people had free time to talk with the representatives and get as much information out of them. We had anticipated having to encourage many young people to partake, but were very pleasantly surprised to see all of them engaging and chatting for the full hour! The whole LAFF team were very proud to see the event going to plan and to see the young people making the most of the opportunity.

Finally, it was time to wrap up the evening. We thanked and applauded each representative individually, giving them a keyring made at Taller Mantay, our partner organisation’s (Casa Mantay) social enterprise. Everyone was invited to enjoy refreshments and delicious empanadas made at T’anta Wasi, the Sacred Valley Project’s social enterprise in Ollantaytambo. This was a great chance to have an informal chat with everyone and build rapport for future events.  

The Careers Fair took place the day before the BECA 18 entry exam, offered by PRONABEC. Javier, the PRONABEC representative, did a brilliant job of informing our students about this exam, and we have since heard that at least three students took the exam. If they pass the exam, the students will receive grants for financial aid with their study at a university or institution, something that they would not otherwise be able to access because of their low socio-economic background. This is a brilliant outcome of the careers fair, and we wish these students all the success in their studies. 

The LAFF team would like to take this opportunity to thank everyone who helped us and contributed to the great success of the event. We would like to thank Globalteer for their kind donation of the bags used for the information packs for the young people. The bags gave the participants something to take home with them and a way of keeping all of their information together. We would like to thank Gary, the owner of Café Bagdad here in Cusco, who kindly donated exercise books and stationary. This equipment was helpful to the young people not only during the Careers Fair, but will continue to support them in their academic work. We would also like to thank Vinay, the owner of the local business Faces of Cusco, who lent us the photo props. The young people and adults alike thoroughly enjoyed taking silly photos with new friends! We would like to thank our partner organisations’ social enterprises; “Tanta Wasi” and “Taller Mantay” for supplying us with key resources for the event, and we were pleased to be able to support them. Finally, we would like to give a massive thank you to all of the representatives including Laggart Café, Pachatusantrek Tourist Agency and Fuego. The event could not have gone ahead without them, and we hope they realise the impact they had on the lives of the participants.

The LAFF team are thrilled with the success of the event, and we hope we can continue developing and improving this event and supporting these bright young minds as they find their way into adulthood. Until 2018!