Peru: It’s dry season in August, the crops are growing small and water is precious. Not only area northeast of Lake Titicaca is suffering from drought since the destruction of the natural vegetation and the arrival of the Eucalyptus. Since then, the Koalas favorite meal has become the only tree one encounters in this region. But in the Peruvian Andes, northeast of Lake Titicaca, women have taken the lead in taking care for their families, education and livestock. It’s early in the morning, after an hour long ride on a pickup truck along the lake we arrive at a small schoolyard, our meeting point.
It’s our first day in the Andes, yesterday evening we arrived from Lima in Juliaca and I still don’t have fully adopted to the height. Compared to Lima the air is remarkable clean but it’s also thin.
But back to the schoolyard and our hosts, the local team from the NGOs Alfalit and Cedepas. The NGOs based in Juliaca and Puno support women in rural villages in their struggle for empowerment through an education in veterinary medicine to improve the living conditions of their livestock and the productivity of their household. But before we’re introduced to their projects, it’s time for sport! After introducing ourselfs, we just have enough time to refresh our suncream before we join the roughly 25 women in their exercise. The emancipation of women in this rural area is also one of education and sports – the small women clothed in many layers of pullovers and skirts are becoming true sportswomen, first waving their arms together, then running in circles to finally put on Barcelona and Real Madrid shirts and hitting the football-field. What seems as a calm game in the first few minutes, evolves into a literally breathtaking event at over 4.000 m above zero, as we join them. Afterwards they present traditional music and dances and accompany us to the veterinary project of Cedepas, where women are educated in veterinary medication and appropriate nutrition, to proactively improve their household’s productivity as well as to take care of their sick animals.
After a traditional lunch, we continue on the road to the next village, where Cedepas educates women to produce fertilizer and recycle their otherwise thrown away materials. Local resources such as ashes, dung, bananas and hay with additional minerals and yeast are used to produce fertilizer for the families field’s. During the process itself, the women are taking the lead, their husbands are carrying out their orders. They are proud to present their work and the crops they grow with it and during one hour, they produce 350 kgs of fertilizer.
What meets the eye is the remarkable engagement of the NGO workers as well as the impressive motivation of the women, that hosted us so lovely, to improve their lives and their families. This is only possible thanks to the women and men of Alfalit and Cedepas, as well as that of their supporters such as Mission 21, the Basle Mission Society, for whom we traveled to Peru.