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.

 

FIVE REASONS WHY YOU SHOULD VOLUNTEER WITH LAFF!

Hi there, I’m Emily! A social science placement student from the University of Bath. Having spent 6 months in Cusco and now working remotely from Medellin, Colombia, I write this blog to give you an insight as to why you should consider volunteering with LAFF:

 

1. The job itself!

Very rarely would I consider ‘work’ to be a strong motivator for packing your bags and relocating to the other side of the World! However, joining a small team of around 6 volunteers, allows you to learn and practise a diverse range of different tasks. As a Communications Coordinator, I was responsible for all aspects of social media & recruitment but I also got stuck into assisting with social enterprise & fundraising projects plus teaching English.

 

2.The beauty of Peru

As one of the most “megadiverse” countries, I was quite overwhelmed by the surrounding landscape. Spending an average of around 10 hours on a bus, or a short plane you could find yourself at Lake Titicaca, the Amazon rainforest, an oasis in the desert and of course…Machu Picchu! ANYONE who knows me, knows that I have never been an expert hiker (or for that matter, had never actually climbed anything higher than the stairs before coming to Peru!). However, the breath-taking views that you get to see (while literally trying to get your breath due to struggling in high altitude), are one million percent worth it.

 

 

3. Spanish, Spanish, Spanish

If I had to say the part of my trip that I am most proud of, it would definitely be the improvement in my Spanish that living in Cusco and working with LAFF, has allowed. Only having an AS in Spanish, I arrived in Cusco with very little confidence in my Spanish ability. However, through a great level of exposure to this, my favourite language, after a few months, I was able to speak with confidence to everyone I met. One challenge, for example, was being asked to translate for a presentation on a new system device that LAFF had created (systems being an area I had even less confidence with!). After learning words such as ‘column’ and ‘spreadsheet’ the night before and feeling very nervous, the meeting came and went, and somehow all I said seemed to be understood! I believe learning a different language in a country such as Peru, is honestly one of the most rewarding things you can do!

 

 

4.Peruvian people and their fascinating culture.

One of the most magical things about living in Peru are the incredible people that live there. Peruvian’s are some of the friendliest people you will meet. Actually living in Cusco, gives you the opportunity to build unique relationships with the locals. I can guarantee that within just a few weeks you will have your own juice lady, fruit and veg seller and friendly mini-market family. Aside from the lovely nature of Peruvians, you will also experience the rich culture that is so prevalent in and around Peru. During my time there, we were able to visit the carnival in Puno (near Lake Titicaca). It was an unforgettable experience, seeing the stunning traditional costumes in the parades, chatting to locals and getting involved in foam fights!

 

 

5.The volunteers at LAFF

The volunteers I met at LAFF were what made this trip so unbelievably special. Knowing that the team consisted of only around 8 people was extremely daunting, as these 8 people could literally have had the personality of a door frame! However, what I realised during my recruitment tasks was that LAFF attracts like-minded people who share similar goals and motivations. With my team, we hiked up various mountains, took long weekend trips away together and found ourselves laughing in every situation. With such a small team the work allows you to coordinate together on projects, bringing you closer as well as learning about a range of different fields.

 

So these are the top 5 reasons why I truly believe anyone thinking of volunteering & travelling should join LAFF. If you want to experience all these amazing things then just send us your CV & fill in the application form on our website.

#asinojuegaperu

Edison Flores, Renato Tapia and Miguel Araujo from the Peruvian select team are some of the few who have taken up the #asinojuegaperu. The new campaign is working towards ending violence towards women and girls in Peru.

The campaign, started by the Ministerio de la Mujer y Poblaciones Vulnerables (Ministry for Women and Vulnerable populations or MIMP) and la Defensoría del Pueblo y la Mesa de Género de la Cooperación Internacional (The Commisioner of the state and the gender Bureau for International Cooperation or MESAGEN ) aims to spread awareness of the situation women face in Peru.

 

 

“Paren las orejas, cada 20 minutos se denuncia un caso de violencia sexual”

 

‘Every 20 minutes an act of sexual violence takes place’ is a main slogan of the campaign and is one of the few issues, stating in the video that every day 4 girls under the age of 14 become mothers and every month there are 10 cases of femicide. 7 out of 10 women in Peru have suffered from physical violence from their partners which contributes towards rising mental health issues in women and children across the country and a normalisation of ‘Machismo’ culture.

These issues, more often affect women living in poverty or low income areas, usually non urban and of indigenous or Afro Peruvian decent and have less chance of being reported in this context due to linguistic, social and economic barriers.

Ranking 87th in the world for gender inequality and 3rd in the number of complaints against gender violence, Peruvians are looking towards how the issue of inequality will be faced by the government, especially within the judicial system where many believe that lax punishments promote a culture of tolerance for violence against women.

Using the platform of the World Cup, Peruvian footballers, bloggers, writers, artists and politicians are trying to spread more awareness and are asking Peruvians to unite in the fight against gender violence.

 

To watch the video click here.

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pbF9UOjbcVo

 

https://www.telesurtv.net/english/news/In-Peru-Gender-Violence-and-Femicides-Up-in-2017-Report-20170611-0025.html

 

http://hdr.undp.org/en/composite/GII

 

https://peru21.pe/lima/tres-casos-agresion-sexual-mujeres-dicen-nuestra-justicia-223710

The two sides of Rainbow Mountain

Members of the LAFF team visited the Rainbow Mountain this Sunday. An amazing natural wonder, but we have concerns for its future.

We arrived at the huge car park at 9 am, odd-psyche up chants as the people around us prepared themselves for the grueling 2-hour walk at high altitude. Surrounded by over 20 buses we knew we would be sharing our experience with many other people and that Instagram moment would be nigh impossible to obtain.

However hard it was to take a photo by ourselves it did in no way ruin the amazing spectacle being surrounded, not only by the wonderfully colourful mountain, but also in the wake of Ausangate- the highest peak in the Cusco region.

It was a fantastic trip to see one of Peru’s most astounding physical wonders but we could not stop thinking about the effect that the amount of tourists, such as ourselves, are having on the location.

The mountain has only been a tourist attraction since 2015 after ‘being discovered’ due to lack of snow because of global warming and since then has received up to 1000 tourists a day.

This has been fantastic for the local economy with many locals moving back to the area as new jobs have been created because of the influx of tourists. With a profit of 10,000/s a day just on the entrance fee, the area is proving to be very lucrative for the locals.

But tourism is a double-edged sword and the fantastic boost to the economy has brought issues to the natural landscape, issues that will continue to grow if the tourism is left unchecked. Degradation and erosion to the paths, littering and pollution and the changing of the landscape into car parks to accommodate the growing number of buses and tourists are a few of the problems caused.

The lack of infrastructure in the area is also cause for concern. Improper sewage disposal into local rivers causes more pollution problems for the Cusco area and lack of proper access to medical services could be a major issue for tourists struggling at high altitude.

Over the past 20 years we have seen countless historic and natural wonders be swallowed up by the ever-growing number of tourists. Local communities and governments jump on the chance to promote these areas because of the economic benefits but as they are often not environmental conservation experts, the environmental concerns often come much later down the line and are sometimes too late.

As travellers it is our responsibility to leave as little a footprint as possible on the places we visit. We would always recommend looking into the most environmentally friendly ways of visiting tourist locations and whilst you are there, showing the utmost respect for the area and the local community.

9 ways Cusco is adapting to tackle climate change

A 2012 report examined how climate change would change life in Cusco, and what should be done about it. I went recently to a climate change conference at Cusco’s engineering university to find out what progress has been made since it was published.

Peru contributes just 0.4% of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions (ERFCC, 2012). While Peru emit on average 2.0 metric tons of carbon per person in 2014, British citizens emit 6.5 and gas guzzling Qatar a staggering 45.4 (World Bank, 2014).

It is easy to forget from a western perspective that these figures have a real world impact, until the remnants of yet another ‘once in a generation‘ hurricane drags its feet across the Atlantic and lands in south Devon as a surfer’s dream swell.

Here in Peru however, the consequences are much more tangible. Some of the consequences identified by the Cusco regional government include an increase in forest fires, rainfall variation, altitudinal crop migration, pests & diseases and glacial melt.

The latter is usually pinpointed by the academics as having the largest effect on the local population. In the last 25 years alone the glaciers of Cusco’s Cordillera de Vilcanota range have retreated by 30% (ERFCC, 2012) and with average minimum temperatures are set to increase by 0.7-1.3°C by 2030 (PACC, 2013), the consequent thawing means that the problem is only exacerbated, and by 2050 Peru will have just 60% of the water available today (MINAG, 2009).

“Eighty percent of the farmland is seasonal. In other words, if there is rain, we plant. If there isn’t enough rain, we can’t keep planting. I’m a native of this region. When I was a child, there was quite a lot of water in this region. There were toads and frogs that you don’t see any more. It’s a big worry. And if I go up to the mountains around Urubamba, I see that they’re almost black now. [...] The rains used to start in October, and we would plant broad beans, wheat, and potatoes. Now the rains begin around mid-December, and we lose more than a month and a half of growing time.”

~ Cirilo Quispe Latorre, Mayor of Cachimayo.

LAFF’s partners work primarily in rural areas, with a strong tradition of livelihoods in the agricultural sector, so clearly there is potential for the full force of climate change to be felt by our partner’s beneficiaries. Luckily, Cusco’s regional government are not sitting on their hands when it comes to these issues, here are just 9 of the many steps that have been taken in recent times:

 

1.An overarching framework: Formulated in 2009 and approved by Cusco’s regional government in 2012, the ‘Regional Strategy on Climate Change’ (ERFCC) set out 32 indicators measuring the progress of 19 strategies proposed to strengthen Cusco’s capacity to tackle climate change. Baseline measurements were made in 2014, and a recently updated report analysed the progress of each of these initiatives. Here are some of their findings:

 

2.Strategies to tackle Deforestation: In a recent study by MAAP (Monitoring of the Andean Amazon Project, 2018), in was estimated that 47% of Peru’s carbon emissions were caused by deforestation in the last five years. Still, Peru’s remaining forests absorbed 3.17 billion metric tons of carbon last year (The equivalent of 2.5 years of US carbon emissions). To tackle deforestation since 2015 there have been 6 new reforestation projects creating 5381 ha of new forest. 134 ha alone of seedlings were planted in a project covering Ccorca, San Sebastián, San Jerónimo y Saylla, communities familiar to us at LAFF.

(The red markings in the graphic above show how nationally widespread the removal of important forest has been in Peru.)

 

3.Renewable energy projects: Reducing carbon emissions was made a priority in the ERFCC report. Renewable energy simultaneously presents an opportunity to reduce reliance on fossil fuels whilst also saving energy costs in the long term. An excellent local example of this in action came from la Universidad Andina del Cusco who recently installed 2 wind turbines and 101 solar panels, saving 30% of their energy consumption.

 

 4.Water security programs: As a result of climate change there will simply not be enough water for people to continue at their current consumption. Since 2014, 2 new water security programs have promoted effective water management, including the holding of workshops to discuss with farmers how resources can be managed most effectively (15 more are proposed to be established by 2021)

 

5.Policies to strengthen biodiversity: Climate change is estimated to cause huge biodiversity loss, a crying shame in one of the most unique and biodiverse microregions in the world. Since 2015, 6 new conservation areas have been established, meaning that now over 11% (845,805.15 ha) of the Cusco region is under protection. One of these is located a stones throw away from our partner Sacred Valley Project in Ollantaytambo. It is lovingly called Veronica’s Sanctuary.

 

6.Strategies to diversify agricultural production: Biodiversity is not only intrinsically valuable, but also affects livelihoods: if a disease affects the principal crop that a community relies upon, it can have disastrous consequences. Since 2015, 3 projects have committed to tackling this, including one by CEDEP Ayllu that among other things has created seed nurseries to protect local strains of potato, quinoa and tarwi.

7.Education: When the baseline report was produced in 2015, they could not find a single example of climate change mentioned in education. We at LAFF share the point of view that change is best implemented from the earliest years, and thus we’re encouraged by the fact that since 2015, 2 separate laws have legislated that climate change adaptation and water resource management be included at different levels of the Peruvian education system

 

8.Spreading knowledge: Conferences like the one I attended help to spread knowledge of climate change adaptation to the wider public and enable academics to share their findings.

 

9.Local solutions to global problems: The ERFCC report recognises that none of the projects and policies described could have a lasting impact without the proper consultation and guidance by the local communities. Adaptation strategies were discussed in workshops with community leaders, NGO’s and local government to work together to prioritise the concerns of the local people and strengthen the institutions that enforce climate change adaptation policy.

 

 

Overall, much progress has been made during the study period of just over 2 years since the strategic framework was approved. However, there were gaps in the findings of the report. Ironically, the following lecture at the conference identified nitrous oxide emissions (310 times more potent than CO2) as caused primarily by transport and fertiliser use, both of which are left unmentioned by the ERFCC report. I would also have loved specific evaluations of the projects implemented by local governments, but the report revealed that this data was unobtainable, raising issues of transparency and accountability.

(Orlove, 2009)

A common concern with this sort of top-down agenda setting is that local concerns are listened to and then steamrolled by theoretical tinkerers. The graphic above is taken from a 2009 book that shows how academics tended (in this sample at least) to prioritise short-term goals, as opposed to the local herders. Whether this will be the case for the ERFCC is yet to be seen, targets are only set for 2021 but are likely to be updated once more data is gathered. Climate change happens so incrementally that the contribution of a single report is not easy to identify, who is to say that this progress wouldn’t have happened regardless of the academic target making. Either way, the effort is substantial compared to certain other countries that at the end of the day are the largest contributors to the problem.

 

If you would like to be part of the solution rather than the problem, you can support these organisations I found while researching for this article, they specialise in climate change adaptation projects/research for vulnerable people in the Cusco region:

 

References

 

ERFCC, 2012

(MINAG, 2009)

(MAAP, 2018)

(PACC, 2013)

(Orlove, 2009) Glacier retreat: Reviewing the Limits of Human Adaptation to Climate Change

(World Bank, 2017) Data bank

 

 

New era of efficiency for LAFF

Currently at LAFF we are working with Connecting Business on implementing Salesforce with the aim of improving our efficiency and Customer Relationship Management (CRM).

The CRM as defined by Salesforce is a technology for managing all your company’s relationships and interactions with customers and potential customers. The goal is simple: Improve business relationships. A CRM system helps companies stay connected to customers, streamline processes, and improve profitability.

We believe we can take these principles and apply it to how our NGO works. As a growing organisation, we are gathering and generating increasing amounts of data and we need to make sure this is held and processed securely and efficiently.

Salesforce will help with this, particularly within aspects such as fundraising. We need to have at our fingertips information such as who gave donations and when, and be able to analyse this information. We also want to manage our volunteer data and processes in a more efficient way, bringing all our information and documents together, in one easily accessible place.

As well as these more ‘behind-the-scenes’ functions of our organisation, we think we can record some of our on-the-ground work within our CRM that will enable better data tracking. For example, recording all workshops we carry out and the key data from them to easily generate reports for our partners and supporters.

We are still in the early stages and are very much looking forward to seeing the full impact CRM can have for us.  Once fully completed, we envisage a more efficient system, as we will have all information at a few clicks of a button. It will also allow us to analyse our information, find trends and enable better planning and decision-making. It will automate some of our tasks, helping us be more efficient and spend more time delivering programmes with our partners.

We would like to thank Connecting Business who have been very easy to work with. We started with a lot of options and questions about which CRM to go for, and they helped us narrow this down and select one that was right for us. We have had some experience with CRMs, but have not been through this process before, and so their help put structure into what could seem like quite an unwieldy task.  They have been a reassuring steady-hand and very generous with their time to help us through this project. Connecting Business are great to work with, and invest the time to understand what you need. For more information on Connecting Business visit their website http://connectingbusiness.co.uk/

Fight against corruption and the 2018 America’s summit in Lima

 

 

 

Early this month, Peru hosted the eighth Summit of the Americas, with leaders of 34 American countries.

The discussion about the fight against the systemic corruption that is widespread in the governments and private sectors of the majority of the countries of the region was the main topic of the Summit.

Lately, there is no lack of corruption scandal examples in the daily press. Firstly the summit’s original host Pedro Pablo Kuczynski resigned the Peru presidency over corruption allegations at the end of March. Mr. Kuczynski is just one of high-level politicians in Latin America and the Caribbean who is either under investigation or charged with corruption in a widening case involving Odebrecht, a Brazilian construction company.



This scandal involves more than 10 countries in America with allegations of illegal payments to politicians in exchange for public construction contracts. In Brazil, almost a third of the actual government ministers, as well as the actual president, Michel Temer, are under investigation. In Ecuador’s the vice-president, Jorge Glas, was sentenced to jail for receiving bribes related to the company.Other cases of corruption include the arresting of Seuxis Hernández, one of the chief negotiators of the Colombian peace deal with the rebels. Mr Hernández is accused of helping traffic 11 tons of cocaine.  In Mexico, the president’s wife is under investigation for buying a multimillion-dollar home from a government contractor under favourable terms.

Nevertheless, the corruption issue raises more than just daily political scandals. It’s also related directly to the future of the countries of the region.

Lead by corruption, short-term goals and the interest of private big companies, political leaders are letting the common good of the population fall behind. The lack of quality or even of the existence of some public services is remarkable in a majority of Latin American and Caribbean countries.  There is a lack of improvements and plans for a better future that seem to lead the continent into a not so bright future.

If we take the case of public education and compare to other regions, South Korea and other East Asian countries for example, had similar, if not worse, educational levels than many Latin American countries 50 years ago. Today, South Korea has significantly better educational outcomes than every single Latin American country according to the OECD publication on quality of education (PISA).

Despite the fact that one of the objectives of the summit was fighting corruption as a way to support the achievement of the 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda, the discussion held seems to be more directed for public notice, to show that the scandals are not being left without a response from the leaders. The debates were essentially about new measures for increasing democratic governance and more transparency and there was a lack of discussion about the long-term effects of corruption in the development of the countries and ways remedy it.

Finally, the document that emerged from the Summit, the Lima Commitment, is a set of directives for countries that does not involve any constraint measures or mechanisms.  All things considered, one is sure, even if the fight against corruption can be strengthened with those new commitments and the political environment begins to change, the damage to public institutions is rooted. It will take a long time to form new leaders that will be able to revert the existent logic and to put into practice long-term policies for a more sustainable development for their population.

 

Photos:

https://www.nytimes.com/2018/04/13/world/americas/summit-americas-corruption.html

https://elpais.com/elpais/2018/04/16/opinion/1523895276_627545.html

 

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: http://www.crossingrubicon.org/blog/finding-soul-in-the-corporate-machine

 

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.

 

 
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