In Peru, indigenous communities are dispersed throughout the Andes Mountains and lack access to most public services, including education. Children must walk several hours to the nearest elementary school. The high schools are often located in town centers, making it too far a journey for a daily commute on foot. This lack of access to education presents an even greater challenge for indigenous girls. While many boys move to urban centers to pursue educational opportunities, this same option is not available to most girls.
The Sacred Valley Project makes secondary education possible for young, indigenous women from mountain communities. Education for women is an especially important investment as the benefits impact future generations and families. Female education is proven to have a substantial impact on reducing poverty. Studies show that an educated woman is more likely to have a smaller and healthier family, a stronger voice in family negotiations and the ability to advocate for herself and her children.
In 2009, village leaders and community members from rural, mountain villages of the Sacred Valley of Peru came up with a plan. They hoped to build a dormitory in the town of Ollantaytambo where their daughters could live while attending high school. After a year of fundraising, and with the help and inspiration brought forth by these community members, the Sacred Valley Project launched the dormitory.
Since 2009, the Sacred Valley Project has housed 20 young women who would otherwise not be in school. During the first few years, the Project housed students by leasing property, however it soon grew to need a larger and more permanent space. After gaining much support from private donors and foundations alike, the Project broke ground on the new dormitory in 2013 and inaugurated the building in April 2014. The biggest success, however, was in December 2013 when the first student graduated from high school. Dina, who entered the Sacred Valley Project at 13, is now studying accounting at a local community college.
The future of the Sacred Valley Project is deeply tied to the communities from which our students come. While at the dormitory the students participate in workshops facilitated by the Program Director and, on occasion, by partners such as the Latin American Foundation for the Future (LAFF). Workshops are geared towards empowering these young women become leaders within their communities.
The global development community has come to realize that girls’ education is vital in overcoming poverty. However the need for access to education far outweighs Sacred Valley Project’s reach. To expand our reach and continue to meet this demand, the Sacred Valley Project is expanding to a new community in January 2015. The new dormitory will house 6 young women in the first year and seek to add approximately 5 students every year. By 2015, the Sacred Valley Project aims to house 26 students in both Ollantaytambo and the new location.
Unlike many non-profit organizations, the Sacred Valley Project is not saddled by expensive overhead costs. If you choose to donate, all of your money will go directly to the dormitory. As a registered 501(c)(3) non-profit, we can assure that all funds will go directly to the project and that your donations will be 100% tax deductible.
Read about our most recent impact in our 2015 Annual Report.