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November 25, 2018. March to commemorate the International Day Against Violence Against Women in Cusco, Peru.

On November 25th, The International Day against Violence against Women, I marched the streets of Cusco with the young mothers of Casa Mantay along with various other organizations to raise awareness to end violence against women and girls.

Violence against women and girls manifests itself in physical, sexual and psychological forms, including intimate partner violence, sexual violence and harassment, human trafficking, female genital mutilation and child marriage. This major issue continues to be an obstacle to achieving equality, development, peace as well as to the fulfillment of women and girls’ human rights.

Violence against women and girls is one of the most persistent and devastating human rights violations in both Peru and our world today. Worldwide, 1 in 3 women and girls experience physical or sexual violence in their lifetime, most frequently by an intimate partner1. In Peru, 12 girls are sexually violated every single day2. In 2017 alone, 6621 cases of sexual abuse against girls and adolescents were reported in Peru3. Of those 6621 cases, 2140 were against girls between 10 and 13 years old and 2346 were against adolescents between 14 and 17 years old4. Although these numbers seem high, they are largely underestimated because violence against women and girls remains largely unreported due to the impunity, silence, stigma and shame surrounding it.

November 25, 2018. The mothers of Casa Mantay marching with their babies in Cusco, Peru.

This issue hits close to home because many of the young girls we work with have been sexually abused. Marching along side the young mothers of Casa Mantay who have become mothers as a result of sexual violence was incredibly moving. It was so powerful to see the girls marching in a line, each one pushing her baby in a stroller while shouting chants such as “Con ropa o sin ropa mi cuerpo no se toca!” (With or without clothes, my body’s not to be touched!) and Dicen que las mujeres no saben luchar. Ya verá el gobierno carajo lo que va a pasar, ¡A la lucha vamos ya, a la lucha!” (They say that women do not know how to fight. The government will soon see what is going to f****** happen. To the fight we go, to the fight!) 

November 25, 2018. A call for action outside of the Department of Justice Building in Cusco, Peru.

These mothers are between the ages of 11 and 18 years old, most of them children themselves. They have big hopes and dreams they envision for themselves, which have now been put on the backburner. I have been working with the educators of Casa Mantay to develop curricula and lead workshops with the goal to educate these girls on their rights as women, support them to increase their self-confidence, and inspire them to live safe, healthy and happy lives free of violation and abuse.

The first time I asked each girl to share one thing she loves about herself, not one person could come up with an answer. After provoking them week after week to write down what they love about themselves, what they are good at, and why they are good mothers, it has gradually become easier for them to answer these questions—a true indicator of self confidence.

In addition to working with the girls of Casa Mantay, I have also been doing workshops with the girls of the Sacred Valley Project in Ollantaytambo and Calca. The aim of these workshops is to increase their self-confidence and equip them with knowledge about sexual health, pregnancy prevention, and their rights as women. I also strive to increase their comfort and ability to say ‘no’ to unwanted sex, and to be able to talk openly and proudly about their bodies without shame or stigma. Before starting these workshops, I thought the girls would be very timid and reluctant to share their thoughts about these taboo topics such as their bodies, sex, and menstruation. However, to my surprise, almost all of the girls have quickly opened up to me and have been excited to share their thoughts and experiences each week. I have already seen an increase in knowledge, self-confidence and comfort level discussing these important topics.

November 22, 2018. Sexual health and self empowerment workshops with the girls of the Sacred Valley Project in Calca, Peru.

So, women and men, girls and boys, let’s remind ourselves of the strength and perseverance of girls around the world. Stand up for what you believe, join the fight, and be proud to be a feminist.

1 World Health Organization, Department of Reproductive Health and Research, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, South African Medical Research Council (2013). Global and regional estimates of violence against women: prevalence and health effects of intimate partner violence and non-partner sexual violence, p.2. For individual country information, see The World’s Women 2015, Trends and Statistics, Chapter 6, Violence against Women, United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs, 2015 and UN Women Global Database on Violence against Women.

2 Anuario estadístico PNP 2017

3 Campaña Ya No Es Secreto: Embarazo En Niñas Y Adolescentes Por Violencia Sexual. Peru: Calandria: Comunicación Estratégica & Desarrolo, 2018.

4 Campaña Ya No Es Secreto: Embarazo En Niñas Y Adolescentes Por Violencia Sexual. Peru: Calandria: Comunicación Estratégica & Desarrolo, 2018.

(A drawing done by Zoraida, one of the Casa Mantay girls during an art workshop!)

A few weeks into my English class workshop with the Casa Mantay girls (a LAFF partner organisation that looks after teenage mums) I discovered that a few of the girls from the home were keen K-Drama fans and were deeply interested in South Korean culture. I had been aware of how far reaching K-Pop and K-Drama fandom has become in the last decade, but would have never imagined it to be popular in Peru (mostly because it’s not in the traditional South Korean cultural sphere of influence), much less with the Casa Mantay girls. Having said this, it’s actually not as unexpected or strange that the girls at Casa Mantay are invested in K-dramas, and have dreams of one day visiting or living in South Korea.

Hayllu or Hanryu refers to a ‘Korean Wave’ of culture that has been expanding and gaining popularity all around the globe since the 90s. Joseph Nye, an American political scientist defines the Korean Wave (Hayllu) as the ‘growing popularity of all things Korean, from fashion and film to music and cuisine’. Starting with the birth and dissemination of Korean pop music (K-Pop), moving onto the rise of South Korean drama tv shows, and ultimately exploding with PSY’s ‘Gangnam Style’ in 2012, which now has well over 3.2 billion views on YouTube. Most of the success of the latest wave of Hayllu (2010s) can be accredited to the use of Social Media and the Internet. As with most social trends today, the internet provided a platform for South Korean cultural trends like K-dramas to cross borders, first to other Asian countries and then the rest of the world. Today, you will find K-pop fan groups of incredibly popular music groups like BTS and Girls Generation in countries well out of the traditional South Korean sphere of influence like Iran and Peru. There are currently more than 60 fan clubs of South Korean music in Lima!

In 2013 the South Korean government allocated 2% of its national budget to help create and disseminate more Korean popular culture abroad and foster a “new cultural renaissance’ (Yonhap, 2013) – or in other words, to expand its cultural presence, and therefore influence abroad. Thus, South Korean pop culture has experienced a remarkably fast growth of Peruvian followers and supporters who not only help to fuel incentives for a South-South cooperation between Lima and Seoul, but that have also opened the door for many Korean businesses and foreign investors in Peru. Wayne Arnold contends that the reason behind the overwhelming global success of K-dramas and K-pop is that both the social and political messages conveyed by these productions are seen as “non-offensive” – a non-political manoeuvre by the South Korean government. Meaning foreign governments are much more likely to be open to the idea of welcoming and broadcasting the content to their populations.

In fact, as Flores Yapuchura argues, it is these messages and traditional TV drama storylines that have made the success of K-pop and K-dramas so rampant amongst Peruvians, Peruvian teenagers in particular. K-drama series like “Boys Over flowers” are very popular in Peru due to their focus on traditional courtship and family roles, highly dramatised love stories and the depiction of the importance of values such as respect and a strong national identity – something that Flores Yapuchura argues is wavering in Limeñan society. Most of the K-culture fandom is concentrated in Lima, but much of these trends have trickled out into the rest of the country, and eventually into Cusco. Many Peruvian youngsters see the introduction of Korean culture into their lives as something that helps to both solidify their values and their identity, not to mention the entertainment value any TV show or music culture provides – especially when it echoes the tone and overall character development often shown in traditional Latin American telenovelas. As teenage girls, the Casa Mantay girls are no exception to this.

All of this, mixed with an overall increase in Peruvian-South Korean trade and investment has created an increase in demand for South Korean goods and businesses in Peru (particularly in Lima). It has also strengthened links between Lima and Seoul. Not only are about a third of all new cars sold in Peru made in South Korea, but there is also a growing demand for products like cosmetics and food shown and used on K-dramas in Peru. This has helped to make South Korea one of the biggest exporters of culture of the last decade – putting it along the same rankings as the US and UK.

Moreover, very sizeable investments have been made by South Korea in ‘resource-rich Peru’ in raw materials like oil. A very profitable symbiotic relationship have been formed between the two governments, in which “Korea’s advanced technology and Peru’s rich natural resources and excellent labour force” have been combined to create a ‘new Korean cool’ (Ambassador Park, in Mapstone, 2013). Peru benefits by using South Korea as a gateway to Asia, and more importantly Korea benefits from increased levels of ‘soft’ political power with which it can influence not only Peru, but the rest of its cultural importers.

So, the fact that the Casa Mantay girls enjoy chatting about the latest ‘Boys over Flowers’ episode in which the main character travels to Peru, or that they are learning Korean, or that one of the girls’ dream is to be an extra on a K-drama is really not all that strange. In fact, it is a byproduct of a very intentional form of international business and political strategy. Peru hopes to strengthen its economy and enter the international area alongside South Korea. We and the Casa Mantay girls will just get to enjoy some very catchy TV shows and music, while we go to (or dream of going to) our favourite Korean barbeque restaurant in the meantime.

Written by Marina Lanza Muñoz



Flores Yapuchura, A.Y., 2013. ‘¿K-Pop, nueva opcion de identidad Peruana?’ Red de Revistas Científicas de América Latina y el Caribe, España y Portugal [Online}. Available from:

Hong, E., 2014. ‘South Korea’s soft power: Soap, sparkle and pop’. The Economist [online]. Available from:

Leong, M., 2014. ‘How Korea became the world’s coolest brand’. Financial Post [Online]. Available from:

Mapstone, N. 2013. ‘Peru: The South Koreans are coming’. Financial Times [Online]. Available from:

Nye. J.S., 2009. ‘South Korea’s Growing Soft Power’. Harvard Kennedy School: Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs [Online]. Available from:

“I GOT A BOY’ by Girls Generation music video:

“DNA” by BTS music video:

“Gangnam Style” by PSY music video:

Todos los niños tienen derecho a disfrutar de su infancia. Todos los niños tienen derecho a no sufrir de malnutrición y violencia y disfrutar del acceso a la educación y a la atención sanitaria. Tiene que ser así independientemente de los ingresos, de la geografía, del género o de la identidad. Un niño no debe estar en riesgo de ser privado de su infancia y de su futuro solo porque ha tenido la mala suerte de nacer en un lugar y no en otro.

Como LAFF, creemos que estos conceptos son fundamentales y son los principios rectores de nuestras acciones.

En este artículo se resume el informe mundial sobre la infancia ‘Infancias Robadas 2018’, publicado por Save the Children y, en particular, se analizan los problemas que surgen en los países afectados por la pobreza, los conflictos armados y la discriminación contra las niñas. En la segunda parte, el artículo se centra en cómo estas tres amenazas afectan el derecho a la educación, que es particularmente importante para nosotros, porque es en lo que se concentran las actividades de LAFF.

(LAFF, 2012)

El concepto and las vision se los diferentes países sobre la infancia fue definido en la Convención sobre los Derechos del Niño (1989).
Los niños tienen derecho a la supervivencia, a la alimentación y a la nutrición, a la salud y a una vivienda digna. También tienen derechos a ser alentados y educados, tanto formalmente como informalmente y a vivir libres de temor, sin violencia y protegidos del abuso y de la explotación.

Sin embargo, el Índice de Peligros para la Niñez de 2018, que es analizado en el informe mundial sobre la infancia ‘Infancias Robadas 2018’, publicado por Save the Children, revela la alarmante información que más de la mitad de los niños del mundo están en riesgo de interrumpir pronto el disfrute de su niñez. En comparación con el año 2017, la situación general parece más favorable en 95 de los 175 países, pero al mismo tiempo parece ser peor en 40 países y entre los niños y niñas más pobres y más afectados por conflictos (TMFOE, 2018). Esto enfatiza la necesitad de tomar más medidas para garantizar que ningún niño se quede atrás.

El Índice de Peligros para la Niñez de 2018 compara los países en función de un conjunto de indicadores que representan la interrupción del disfrute de la niñez. Estos indicadores son la mala salud, la malnutrición, la exclusión educativa, el trabajo infantil, el matrimonio precoz, el embarazo adolescente y la violencia extrema. Estos peligros son mas frecuentes cuando tres amenazas coinciden: la pobreza, los conflictos armados y la discriminación contra las niñas.


Los niños que crecen en la pobreza comienzan sus vidas en una situación de gran desventaja en comparación con aquellos que no. En efecto, ellos experimentan privaciones materiales, sociales y emocionales, menor acceso a los servicios y peores condiciones de vida. Ellos tienen más probabilidades de morir durante su niñez y de sufrir malnutrición (retraso en el crecimiento, desnutrición aguda pero también obesidad).

Los niños en situación de pobreza también tienden a ir menos al colegio o si van suelen ser menos eficientes en sus estudios, mientras es más probable que les obliguen a trabajar y a casarse prematuramente. Además, las niñas en situación de pobreza tienden a quedarse embarazadas a una edad temprana (TMFOE, 2018).

La pobreza infantil es un problema generalizado y esto es visible en el Índice de Peligros para la Niñez de 2018. 47 de los 185 países están caracterizados por la pobreza generalizada y el 20% de los niños en los países en desarrollo viven en la pobreza extrema (TMFOE, 2018). Esto significa que es un problema que existe en todos los contextos y que todos los países deben luchar contra el. Es probable que los niños que crecen en condiciones de pobreza sigan siendo pobres cuando sean adultos y transmitan la condición de pobreza a la siguiente generación y, por lo tanto, es probable que perpetúen la pobreza infantil. Por eso, es fundamental abordar este problema lo antes posible.


Actualmente, como mínimo 250 millones de niños viven en países afectados por conflictos (TMFOE, 2018). Los territorios afectados por los conflictos armados se caracterizan a menudo por la falta de alimentos y de servicios fundamentales como la atención sanitaria, el saneamiento y la educación. Por lo tanto, las enfermedades, la malnutrición y la muerte prematura son muy comunes en esas áreas.
Los niños que viven en áreas afectadas por conflictos tienen más probabilidades de trabajar desde una edad temprana. Además, el conflicto hace que las niñas sean más vulnerables al matrimonio infantil por varias razones, como por ejemplo, el miedo a la violación y a la violencia sexual, la falta de vivienda, el hambre o la inanición y para facilitar la migración. El matrimonio infantil es utilizado también por los grupos armados como arma de guerra. Los niños que viven en esas áreas a menudo sufren, presencian o temen a la violencia y esto causa profundos traumas emocionales que tienen repercusiones en sus vidas adultas.


(MANTAY, 2016)

Muchas niñas en el mundo todavía sufren discriminación con respecto a los niños. De hecho, el Índice de Peligros para la Niñez de 2018 informa que en 55 de los 185 países las niñas sufren una gran discriminación (TMFOE, 2018). La situación ha mejorado sustancialmente desde hace algunas décadas, pero demasiadas niñas en el mundo, especialmente en algunos territorios, todavía están excluidas de la educación básica y experimentan matrimonio infantil, embarazo precoz, violencia sexual y trabajo doméstico no reconocido.


Las actividades de LAFF se centran principalmente en aumentar las posibilidades que los niños en la Región del Cusco tienen de gozar del derecho a la educación. Por lo tanto, ahora vamos a centrarnos en las repercusiones de las tres amenazas en la posibilidad que los niños tienen de gozar de esto derecho.

La educación es un derecho fundamental del niño que está recogido en la Declaración Universal de Derechos Humanos y en otros instrumentos internacionales de derechos humanos. El derecho a la educación es sin duda uno de los derechos con más poder. Es necesario para el desarrollo humano, social y económico. De hecho, ofrece la posibilidad a los niños y a los adultos que viven en una condición económica y social desfavorable de salir de la pobreza y participar plenamente en la sociedad. La educación permite al individuo descubrir y desarrollar todo su potencial y también garantiza la dignidad humana y promueve el bienestar individual y colectivo. También es un elemento fundamental para lograr el desarrollo sostenible y la paz duradera.


La educación es un factor fundamental que puede permitir a los niños escapar de la pobreza, pero al mismo tiempo la pobreza constituye también el mayor obstáculo para que los niños accedan a la educación. El Informe señala que los niños que viven en países de bajos ingresos tienen casi 9 veces más probabilidades de no ir a la escuela en comparación con los que viven en países de altos ingresos (TMFOE, 2018).

Muchos niños que provienen de familias pobres no van a la escuela porque los padres no pueden permitirse los gastos necesarios. Además, para la familia, mandar a su hijo a trabajar les puede parecer una mejor inversión porque los beneficios son inmediatos, no como en el caso de la educación, que son a largo plazo.

Los niños pobres que van a la escuela también tienen menos probabilidades de ser eficientes en sus estudios porque no están en la misma condición física, social y emocional de los niños más afortunados.

Otra amenaza que puede poner en riesgo el derecho a la educación es el conflicto violento. A menudo, a causa de los conflictos, las escuelas se cierran, son destruidas o incluso los niños no asisten por miedo a la violencia.
Los desplazamientos causados por los conflictos también tiene una fuerte repercusión en la educación.

En lo relacionado a la discriminación de la mujer, aunque en todo el mundo la brecha de género en la educación se está reduciendo, todavía existen importantes desigualdades de género en ciertas partes del mundo (TMFOE, 2018). Esto podría deberse a normas culturales, pobreza, matrimonio precoz y forzado, embarazo en la adolescencia, residencia en zonas rurales, condiciones de refugiados, violencia de género, discapacidad, etc.


El informe ‘Infancias Robadas 2018’ deja claro que muchos niños del mundo están muy lejos de gozar de sus derechos y de disfrutar de su infancia, libre de malnutrición y violencia y con acceso a servicios de atención sanitaria y educación de calidad. No es aceptable que, debido a sus orígenes, los niños corren el peligro de verse privados de disfrutar de su niñez y de tener un buen futuro. Además, esta agresión contra la niñez priva a los países de la energía y el talento que necesitan para progresar.

Es fundamental que los gobiernos y las organizaciones internacionales aborden este problema para asegurar que se llegue, en primer lugar, a quienes estén en peores condiciones y para que, en un futuro proximo, todos los niños tengan los derechos que merecen.
Creemos que el trabajo que LAFF hace es una contribución fundamental. De hecho, incrementamos de forma tangible las posibilidades que nuestros beneficiarios han de gozar del derecho a la educación.



(LAFF, 2012)

(MANTAY, 2016)

(TMFOE, 2018) The many faces of exclusion, End of Childhood Report 2018, Save the   Children.

(UEAAR, 2018) Understanding Education as a Right,  Right to Education Initiative

(UNESCO, 2018) Right to Education, UNESCO

Every child has a right to childhood. Every child has the right to be free from malnutrition and violence and to enjoy access to education and health care. It has to be so regardless of income, geography, gender or identity. A child must not be at risk of being robbed of its childhood and future potential because he was unlucky to be born in a certain place. As LAFF, we believe these concepts are fundamental. They are the guiding principles of our actions as well as what we try to work for.

This article summarises the End of Childhood Report 2018 published by Save the Children and in particular it discusses the issues that arise in countries affected by poverty, armed conflicts and discrimination against girls. In the second part, the article focuses on how those three threats impact the right to education, that is particularly important for us as it is LAFF main focus.

(LAFF, 2012)

The concept and the countries’ shared vision of childhood has been defined in the Convention on the Rights of the Child (1989).
Children have the right to survival, food and nutrition, health and shelter. They also have the right to be encouraged and educated, both formally and informally, and to live free from fear, safe from violence and protected from abuse and exploitation.

However, the End of Childhood Index 2018 which is discussed on the End of Childhood Report 2018 published by Save the Children discloses the alarming information that over half of the world’s children are at risk for an early end of their childhood. The overall situation seems more favorable in 95 out of 175 countries compared to the year 2017 but at the same time it appears to be worse in 40 countries and among poorest children and children most affected by conflicts (TMFOE, 2018).
This clearly highlights how more needs to be done to ensure that no child is left behind.

The End of Childhood Index compares countries by a set of indicators that signal the disruption of childhood. These indicators are poor health, malnutrition, exclusion from education, child labor, child marriage, early pregnancy and extreme violence. These are mostly present where three threats overlap. These are poverty, armed conflict and discrimination against girls.


Children raised in poverty start life in a position of strong disadvantage with respect to those that are not. They experience material, social and emotional deprivation, less access to services and impoverished living conditions. They are more likely to die during their childhood and to experience malnutrition (stunting, acute malnutrition but also obesity).

Children in poverty are also less likely to go to school or, if they do, to be successful in their studies, while they are more likely to be forced into work and to experience child marriage. Additionally, girls in a condition of poverty tend to get pregnant at an earlier age compared to their luckier counterparts (TMFOE, 2018).

Child poverty is a widespread issue. 47 out of the 185 countries analyzed in the End of Childhood Index are characterized by widespread poverty and 20% of the children in developing countries live in extreme poverty (TMFOE, 2018). This is a proof that poverty exist in all contexts and that therefore all countries have to fight it.

Children that are raised in a condition of poverty are likely to carry the consequences of this as adults and to transmit poverty down to the next generation and therefore to perpetuate child poverty. This is why it is fundamental to tackle this issue as soon as possible.


At least 250 million children nowadays live in conflict-affected countries (TMFOE, 2018). Territories affected by armed conflicts are often characterized by a lack of food and of fundamental services as health care, sanitation and education. Illnesses, malnutrition and early death are therefore constant threats in those areas. Children that live in conflict-affected territories are more likely to work from an early age.

Moreover, conflict makes girls more vulnerable to child marriage for a number of reasons. These are, for example, fear of rape and sexual violence, homelessness, hunger or starvation, to facilitate migration. Child marriage is also used by armed groups as a weapon of war. Children that live in those areas often suffer, witness or fear violence, and this causes deep emotional traumas that have repercussion on their life as adults.


(MANTAY, 2016)

Many girls in the world still face discrimination with respect to boys. In fact, the End of Childhood index reports that 55 out of 185 countries are characterized by discrimination against girls (TMFOE, 2018).

Even if the situation has substantially improved compared to a few decades ago, far too many girls in the world, especially in certain territories and communities, are still excluded from basic education, and experience child marriage, early pregnancy, sexual violence and unrecognized domestic work.


As LAFF activities are primarily focused around increasing the possibility of children in the Cusco Region of enjoying the right to education, I am now going to discuss how the three threats have an impact on this right.

Education is a fundamental right of the child and is enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and in several other international human rights instruments.

The right to education is surely one of the most empowering rights. It is necessary for human, social and economic development. In fact, it helps economically and socially marginalised children and adults to lift themselves out of poverty and to participate fully in society. It allows individual to discover and develop their full potential. It ensures human dignity, and promotes individual and collective wellbeing. It is also a key element to achieving sustainable development and lasting peace.


Education is a key factor that can allow children to escape poverty but at the same time poverty now is the biggest obstacle to education. The Report points out how children in low income countries are almost 9 times as likely to be out of school compared to those in high income countries (TMFOE, 2018). Many children that come from poor families do not attend school because the parents cannot sustain the required investment. Moreover, for the family, sending their kid to work might seem a better investment because the returns are immediate compared to the returns to education which can be enjoyed after certain years.
Poor children that go to school are also less likely to be successful because they are not in the same physical, social and emotional condition of their luckier counterparts.

Another threat that disrupt access to education is violent conflict. Often, as a result of conflict, schools are closed or destroyed or children are not sent to school because of fear they will experience violence. Displacement from home caused by conflict has also a strong repercussion on education.

Talking about discrimination against girls, even if worldwide the gender gap in education is narrowing, there are still significant gender disparities in certain parts of the world (TMFOE, 2018). This could be due to cultural norms, poverty, early and forced marriage, teen pregnancy, rural residence, refugee conditions, gender-based violence, disability, etc.


The End of Childhood Report 2018 makes it clear that many children of the world are very far from enjoying their rights and from experiencing a full childhood, free from malnutrition and violence and with access to quality health care and education.
It is not acceptable that, because of where they live or who they are, children risk of being robbed of their childhood and of their future potential. Moreover, this aspect damages the nations in which they live as it deprives them of the talent and energy they need in order to progress.
It is fundamental that governments and international organizations address this issue so that the children furthest behind are reached first and so that, in the foreseeable future, no child will be left behind. We believe that the work that LAFF does is a fundamental contribution to this. In fact, we make a tangible difference on our beneficiaries’ possibility to enjoy the right to education.



(LAFF, 2012)

(MANTAY, 2016)

(TMFOE, 2018) The many faces of exclusion, End of Childhood Report 2018, Save the   Children.

(UEAAR, 2018) Understanding Education as a Right,  Right to Education Initiative

(UNESCO, 2018) Right to Education, UNESCO

In this interview-series we want to shine a light on some of the incredible work being done ‘behind the scenes’ at LAFF. We’re speaking to staff who work directly with our young people and, without whom, we couldn’t help 100s of children in the Cusco region each year to build a better future.

Our first interview is with child psychologist Eliana, who works across LAFF’s projects to support vulnerable young people.

In this powerful interview Eliana talks about the vulnerabilities and challenges facing many children and families. The difficulties for young girls and boys growing up in a machismo culture, the need for more emotional education and mental health care in schools, and how charities like LAFF can help.

“Our way of being means we don’t value children as people. Children aren’t ‘half-people’, they are complete, with opinions, dreams and fears and they feel, just like adults do.”

Tell us a bit about your life and work?

I was born in a small town near Puno. My parents were teachers. When Peru went through a difficult moment of terrorism in the 80s they decided to move to Cusco. I have been here ever since.

I am married and a psychologist and have worked with children for as long as I can remember; when I was younger I worked in church groups and that was part of my motivation to choose this sort of career.

What was your motivation for working with children? 

I believe change in any society starts with children.

In Peru, especially in the Sierra we don’t invest enough in the ability of our children. Our way of being means we don’t value children as people. Children aren’t ‘half-people’, they are complete, with opinions, dreams and fears and they feel, just like adults do.

“I have discovered, in some cases, that girls believe that they will suffer in adulthood, purely because they are women. We need to change this mentality”

So you think work with the family is important?

The struggle is always with adults. When you work with a child the ideal situation is to have the families involved in your work too, but it is very difficult to change attitudes in adults.

In my experience with children in a state of vulnerability things are more difficult. There isn’t only a lack of income, but a lack of emotional support and education amongst the parents. This makes it harder for adults to understand their impact on children overcoming difficulties.

There is also a difference between mothers and fathers, mothers are more passive, more submissive, but fathers will come at you and say ‘no, it’s my son, and I know what’s going on’. This is our reality in the Sierra, especially within people who have migrated from the countryside where men have the voice.

Is Peru a very male dominated society?

Yes. Women won’t express their opinion. They haven’t been taught how to communicate or listen to their own opinions.

I have focused a lot on this mentality in girls and I have discovered, in some cases, that girls believe that they will suffer in adulthood, purely because they are women.

I have listened to women in hospitals for example, who will say, ‘how sad, she’s a girl, she is going to suffer later in life’. We need to change this mentality in women and children. Girls need to grow up understanding that the female condition is not a bad one.

They accept that violence against women is normal?

 I worked in a school where a mother who has a violent husband told me something incredibly heart-breaking. She told me her husband had come home drunk and had hit her daughter ‘as if she was his wife’. It’s as if she thought that violence against her was completely normal, but towards her daughter was not ok, but only because she was so young. I want to show the ways in which women believe that they are destined to be victims.

And for boys, what do you think are the most important issues?

The Machismo culture creates ideas of victimhood within girls, and creates within boys the idea that women are worthless. So it’s the same struggle of changing this mentality. It has the same bad effect for men, men don’t cry, men are strong. It can be a very protective, caring quality but the message is that he is stronger than she is.

What are the biggest challenges faced by children in vulnerability?

 First, we need to change education. We focus too much on content and less on value. In schools they completely ignore emotional education. There are schools that have psychologists and a tutor that will talk about this area but there will be one psychologist for 200 students.

Another issue is the access to mental health care within the health sector. They never prioritize children. They don’t think children need this sort of orientation.

The only places where children receive this sort of attention are through social projects and NGOs.

Are there any problems with NGO or social projects in Cusco?

A big issue is funding. Also volunteers, although they are normally people you can count on, their work with a project does not always bring the stability that they want to offer. There should be protocols for this, but for every volunteer it takes time to adapt to a new space, and once they have adapted they often leave and there is someone new to come and take their place. I think its an issue that really affects the continuity of work.

There is also an issue within the kids who these organisations work with. These children often believe that foreigners who come and help are here only to bring something material. For example in Azul Wasi volunteers often bring sweets or come and play with them and the boys start to think that support from foreigners only comes in the form of a gift.

Do children in vulnerable positions have a feeling of inferiority?

I think children are only products of their upbringing. A child with a family could be emotionally neglected and grow up with issues of self esteem. A child without a family could have every opportunity thrust upon them by their carer.

In general I have worked with kids from homes where what they lack, and have not developed, are skills like decision-making. They have always had things decided for them, including what they are going to do in their free time.

They have also not developed a way to resolve conflicts as they have always had an authoritative figure who will resolve it for them.

I think that these boys have a small tolerance for frustration, and that is a key issue in their aggression, they look for different ways to defend themselves. I think its a natural state of vulnerability.

Is there more training on this in Universities?

There has been a more human approach to the subject over the past few years that values children more as intelligent people, but it is not enough. Especially when it comes to implementing change. In schools we are only told to work on educational psychology and not emotional psychology. These are rules that come from the state and trying to change these is very hard.

We have talked about difficulties and challenges, what are the good moments in your work?

 In reality the gratifying moments are qualitative not quantitative. I get to see the changes in children, in their way of thinking, in their emotions and emotional responses. For example, when a child tells me ‘today I could control myself and it felt good’, I know they have learnt something.

Also I get to see when children educate their parents. It’s amazing to see when they have the capacity to say to their parents that something isn’t right.

Finally, what do you think about the work LAFF does and what would you change?

I have worked with LAFF since 2013 and I think we are on the right path. We are taking small steps because of the funding issues, which is something faced by most NGOs, but it is the right path.

What would I change? I think that we need to work with Peruvians more as they understand Peru, our culture and how we are.

En esta serie de entrevistas, queremos iluminar algunos de los increíbles trabajos que se realizan bajo cuerda en LAFF. Hablamos con las personas que trabajan directamente con nuestros jóvenes y, que sin ellos, no podríamos ayudar cada año en construir un futuro mejor a una gran cantidad de niños que habitan en la región de Cusco.

Nuestra primera entrevista es con la psicóloga Eliana, que trabaja en todos los proyectos de LAFF para apoyar a los jóvenes vulnerables.

En esta poderosa entrevista, Eliana habla sobre las vulnerabilidades y los desafíos que enfrentan muchos niños y familias. Las dificultades para las niñas y niños que crecen en una cultura de machismo, la necesidad de una educación emocional y atención de salud mental en las escuelas, y cómo las organizaciones benéficas como LAFF pueden ayudar.

“Los niños no son medias personas, son personas completas con opiniones, decisiones, con sueños, tristezas y angustias; sienten como los adultos.”

¿Me podrías hablar un poco de tu vida y de tu trabajo?

Nací en un pueblo pequeño en el departamento de Puno. Mis padres eran profesores. Cuando Perú pasó por un momento muy difícil con el terrorismo en los años 80 y la situación era tan peligrosa, mis padres decidieron migrar a Cusco.

Soy casada, soy psicóloga y trabajo con niños desde siempre. Cuando yo era adolescente trabajaba en grupos de la iglesia y esa fue mi motivación para elegir este tipo de carrera.

¿Cuáles son tus motivaciones para trabajar con niños?

Creo que el cambio de cualquier sociedad se tiene que hacer a través de los niños.

En Perú, especialmente en la sierra, no se invierte lo suficiente en la capacidad de los niños. Nuestra forma de ser como peruanos hace que esto no se tome en cuenta. El valor que los niños tienen no es igual al de un adulto.

Los niños no son medias personas, son personas completas con opiniones, decisiones, con sueños, tristezas y angustias; sienten como los adultos. Por eso me gusta trabajar niños, por el hecho de que yo pueda darle valor a todo eso.

“Yo descubrí casos de niñas que creen que por el hecho de ser mujeres cuando sean adultas, van a sufrir mucho. Se necesita cambiar esa mentalidad en mujeres y niñas.”

¿El trabajo con los familias es importante?

Mi lucha es constante con los adultos. Cuando uno interviene en un caso de un niño lo ideal sería que las familias se involucren en el trabajo, eso es lo más difícil. Es muy difícil cambiar los esquemas mentales de los adultos.

En mi experiencia con niños en este estado de vulnerabilidad es más difícil porque las carencias no son solamente económicas; son afectivas y son de educación de los padres. Entonces es difícil hacer entender a un adulto que la manera del niño para poder superar esa dificultad depende también de él.

También hay diferencias entre padres y madres, las mujeres son más pasivas, más sumisas, pero los padres dicen ‘no, es mi hijo y yo sé’, esa es nuestra forma de ser en la sierra. Y es más en personas que migran del campo donde el varón tiene la voz, el voto, la decisión, y todo lo demás.

¿Perú es una sociedad machista, no?

Si, pero la mujer no se opone no porque está de acuerdo, solo se calla. No le han enseñado como comunicar y escuchar sus opiniones.

En mi trabajo con los niños desde hace 4 años, estoy enfocada en esa mentalidad de las niñas. Yo descubrí casos de niñas que creen que por el hecho de ser mujeres cuando sean adultas, van a sufrir mucho.

He escuchado mujeres en mis prácticas profesionales en hospitales, por ejemplo, que dijeron ‘es una niña, que pena, va a sufrir, es una mujercita’. Se necesita cambiar esa mentalidad en mujeres y niñas. Las niñas tienen que crecer conociendo que la condición de ser mujer no es una condición terrible.

¿Ellas aceptan que la violencia contra las mujeres es normal?

Trabajé en un colegio donde había una mujer que tenía un esposo muy violento, y me dijo algo tan fuerte: “Llegó a la casa borracho y pegó a su hija como si fuera su mujer. Si me hubiera pegado a mí sería normal, pero que pegue a la niña es terrible”.

Yo quiero evidencia esa  forma de pensar de las mujeres, piensan que ser víctimas es lo normal.

¿Crees que necesita un cambio en el sistema o a nivel gubernamental?

Creo que sí. Es una batalla que están haciendo en las instituciones en el área social, como por ejemplo el enfoque de género en las escuelas. Pero desde mi punto profesional necesito hacer algo. Creo que no podemos esperar a este cambio educativo. Si yo puedo colaborar con este cambio con un pequeño grupo, está bien.

¿Para los niños que es lo más importante?

El machismo forma ideas en niñas que van a ser víctimas y forma niños con la idea de que la mujer vale menos y que pueden hacer lo que quieran. Entonces es lo mismo, hay que cambiar esta mentalidad. Tiene el mismo sentido en las cualidades del hombre: el hombre no llora, el hombre es fuerte; puede ser muy protector, muy cariñoso pero el mensaje es que él es más fuerte que ella.

¿En relación a los niños y niños en situación de vulnerabilidad, cuáles son las mayores adversidades que encuentran estos niños? 


Debería cambiar primeramente la educación, enfocarse menos en contenidos y más en los valores. Se descuida la parte de la formación personal de los niños. Hay escuelas que tienen psicólogos y una tutoría donde se habla de este área personal, pero hay un psicólogo para 200 niños.

Otra cosa es el acceso a la salud mental en el sector de la salud, no se prioriza a los niños en la salud mental. No se consideran los niños como entes que necesitan orientación en salud mental.

Hay lugares donde podemos dar a los niños esta forma de atención y para mí es en estos proyectos sociales. Nunca he visto una organización que de atención a la salud mental de los niños que no sea un proyecto social.

¿Cuáles son los principales problemas de estas organizaciones en Cusco?

Pienso que dentro de las organizaciones hay un problema con los presupuestos. También los voluntarios son personas normalmente en los que podemos contar. Sin embargo, su estadía temporal en un proyecto no siempre da estabilidad a todo el programa que quieren hacer. Deben tener protocolos para esto, porque siempre el tiempo de adaptación de un voluntario toma tiempo y cuando ya están adaptados, se tiene que ir y viene otra persona. Pienso que eso es un problema que puede afectar la continuidad de trabajo.

Sin embargo, hay un problema en los mismos niños que son atendidos por estas organizaciones. Muchas veces estos niños creen que los extranjeros vienen es para traerles algo material. Hay extranjeros, por ejemplo, en Azul Wasi, que les llevan caramelos o algo así, juegan con ellos y lo pasan bien. Pero el niño cree que todos los extranjeros que vienen y el apoyo de ellos es un regalo o algo material.

¿Los niños que están en posición de vulnerabilidad tienen un sentimiento de inferioridad?

Creo que los niños solamente son producto de su formación.

En general yo he trabajado con personas que viven en hogares, que tienen dificultades en tomar decisiones. Ellos no han desarrollado la capacidad de tomar decisiones, porque en el hogar han decido por ellos, incluso lo que van a hacer en su tiempo libre.

Ellos no han desarrollado tampoco una estrategia de resolver conflictos porque siempre tienen por encima a la autoridad, el que resuelve o no resuelve. Creo que estos niños tienen muy poca tolerancia a la frustración y es por eso por lo que hay agresividad. Así que ellos buscan otras maneras de defenderse. Pienso que eso un estado natural para alguien que está en una situación de vulnerabilidad.

¿Pero ahora en las universidades hay más formación sobre eso?

Desde hace unos años dentro de la formación de los profesionales hay un aspecto más humanista y se valora a los chicos como personas inteligentes y con valor. Pero creo que no es suficiente, y las políticas necesitan cambiar alrededor de esto, especialmente cuando hay personas que quieren cambiar cosas. En los colegios, por ejemplo, las directivas para psicólogos es hacer solamente psicología educativa, por ejemplo, con problemas de aprendizaje, pero no nos podemos enfocar en los problemas emocionales. Son políticas institucionales y son directivas del estado.

Hemos hablado de los problemas de su trabajo pero espero que haya momentos de alegría también.

En realidad, estas cosas gratificantes no son cuantitativas, siempre son cualitativas porque yo veo el cambio en los niños, en los pensamientos, en las emociones. Por ejemplo, cuando un chico me dijo: ‘hoy me pude controlar y me sentí bien’-eso es la inteligencia.

También veo que hay niños que pueden educar a sus padres, porque han aprendido la lección. Tienen la capacidad de decirle a sus padres cuando algo no está bien.

¿Y finalmente que piensas del trabajo de LAFF?

Yo trabajo con LAFF desde 2013 y creo que estamos en el buen camino. Vamos con pasos pequeños debido al problema de presupuesto, que es siempre un problema con organizaciones sociales, pero es el camino correcto. ¿Qué cambiaría? Creo que debe haber más personas peruanas que puedan complementar el equipo y que puedan entender y conocer como somos.

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.


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 complaintsagainst 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.



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.

Last weekend I had the great fortune of visiting the Amazon Rainforest. I am from Italy and for me the Amazon Rainforest was like a myth, something special and something foreign at the same time. Before coming to Peru to volunteer for LAFF, I never thought I would be able to see the Amazon outside of documentaries and movies and get to experience it for real. This happened last week and  it was simply marvelous. Visiting Lake Sandoval in the Tambopata National Reserve, seeing the daily activities of local communities, and watching the sunset on the Madre de Dios River while only hearing the sounds of the forest are memories I will cherish forever.
Before the beginning of my trip I decided to read more about the Peruvian region of the Amazon Forest. During my research I came across reports that detailed a great number of issues. Unfortuntately, there are many problems that communities in the Amazon are facing because of the environmental degradation caused by excessive logging and mining that you can’t see as a tourist; one of them is the poor health conditions of local people caused by the low  quality of the water they have access to.
Toxic Water: A Health Threat
The majority of the activities of the communities that live along the Amazon rivers revolve around the river or involve using water from the river. These activities are, among others, bathing, cooking, drinking, washing clothes, fishing and leisure time for the children.
Fishing, in particular, is one of the main economic activities for many of the communities that live in the Amazon Region of Peru and where they get their main source of protein.

Moreover, for some indigenous people, like the Kukama Kukamira Indigenous People that live primarily in the Loreto Province of Peru, water is not fundamental just because it satisfies basic needs and allows them to perform basic activities, but also because it represents a spiritual element. The individuals belonging to the commu nitieslocated on the banks of the Marañón River, like the Cuninico community, have this special relationship with water. Sadly, the conditions of the water they have access to is very poor and it is affecting their health.

According to the Office of the Ombudsman, in the Amazon Region, as in other territories of the world, there are new causes of illness and death related to pollution of rivers and water sources (3). In addition, Amensty International’s recent report based on research conducted in seven communities of the Amazon and the Andean regions between February and August 2017,  ‘Toxic State’, highlights  how the Peruvian Government has failed to provide adequate healthcare for Indigenous communities and how the only sources of freshwater these communities have access to are contaminated by toxic metals. Members of the Cuninico community reported how in the last years they have started experiencing new and more acute health problems; such as cramps, colics, stomach aches, a burning sensation on urination, allergies and/or itchy skin, and miscarriages. These are having atrocious effects on the inhabitants of the community which are having problems in performing basic activities as working, carrying equipment and walking; even children are having problems focusing at school  (AMNINT, 2017).

These health issues started to appear after 2014, when a total of 2,358 barrels of oil spilled from a pipeline near Cuninico creek, a tributary of the Marañón River.
Studies carried out in the Cuninico community in 2014 and 2016 respectively by DIRESA, which is Peru’s Regional Health Authority and by Peru’s Ministry of Health, revealed the alarming news that the amount of aluminium and petroleum hydrocarbons present in the water in Cuninico exceed the levels allowed for human consumption and how more than half of people in the community had abnormal levels of mercury, cadmium and lead in their blood.

Despite the shocking information, the ‘Toxic State’ report denounces how not enough measures have been taken by the government in order to tackle this issue. For instance,
the health services indigenous communities have access is far from adequate.  Inhabitants of the Cuninico community have to travel an hour and a half on a speedboat to reach the closest health center, and this structure does not have the specialists that are required to meet the needs of people exposed to toxic metals. This demonstrates a lack of understanding of the needs, cultural context and actual resources in the indigenous communities from governmental authorities.

A Violation of Rights that needs to be stopped

According to Article 24.1 and 24.2 of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples “Indigenous individuals also have the right to access, without any discrimination, to all social and health services” and “Indigenous individuals have an equal right to the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health.”

With respect to health facilities, the Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (CESCR) establishes the essential elements of the right to health, which are: availability in sufficient quantity in order to provide health care to the population, accessibility and affordability to anyone also to the most vulnerable or marginalized sections of the population, and quality (5). More specifically on the topic of this report, the CESCR General Comment No. 14 also stresses that the right to health includes access to clean drinking water and adequate sanitation (6). However, many communities in the world, as those mentioned in this report, do not enjoy this right.

As the Amnesty International reports points out, given that access to “safe and potable water” and protection from “exposure to harmful substances” are integral elements of the right to health (7), the fact that the Peruvian State continues to fail to provide access to safe drinking water for communities whose only sources of water are contaminated with heavy metals is definitely a violation of the right to health of these communities that puts their lives at risk. Moreover, the Peruvian State has failed to provide resources to enable Indigenous Peoples to establish, organize and control adequate, culturally appropriate health services themselves (8).

It is evident that those communities are deprived of an element which is of primary importance for them because it allows them to perform their everyday activities and because it is fundamental for their identity. This is, under my point of view, unacceptable. It is of vital importance that the state starts taking measures in order to solve this issue so to defend and meet the needs of the Indigenous Communities that live in such a breathtaking wonder of nature which is the Amazon Rainforest.

(1) (BRIT)

(2) (INEI, 2017)

(3) Peru. Office of the Ombudsman. La defensa del derecho de los pueblos Indígenas amazónicos a una salud intercultural. (Defending the rights of Indigenous Amazonian Peoples to an intercultural health). Ombudsman’s Report No. 169, 2015. Conclusion 11, p. 127.

(4) (AMNINT, 2017)

(5) Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, General Comment No. 14 (2000): The Right to the Highest Attainable Standard of Health, Article 12 of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, E/C.12/2000/4, CESCR, 11 August 2000, para. 12

(6) Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, General Comment No. 14 (2000): The Right to the Highest Attainable Standard of Health, Article 12 of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, E/C.12/2000/4, CESCR, 11 August 2000, para. 4.

(7) Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, General Comment No. 14 (2000): The Right to the Highest Attainable Standard of Health, Article 12 of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, E/C.12/2000/4, CESCR, 11 August 2000, para. 15.

(8) Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, General Comment No. 14 (2000): The Right to the Highest Attainable Standard of Health, Article 12 of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, E/C.12/2000/4, CESCR, 11 August 2000, para. 27.

Written by: Francesca Zambelli