The mission of the Sacred Valley Project is to provide boarding and supplementary education for young women from low income families in remote areas of the Andes so that they can continue and complete their secondary education.
In the Sacred Valley of Peru, the world’s most direct descendants of the Inca Empire live in extreme poverty, struggling to meet even the most basic of needs. One of the most severe problems for rural villages in the region is a lack of access to public services. Children must walk several hours to the nearest elementary school and high schools are often only located in larger towns, too far from home for students to commute daily.
While boys often move to urban centers to pursue an education, this same opportunity is not available for many girls. At the Sacred Valley Project, we believe that education for women is an especially important investment as young women are likely to pass on the benefits of their education to their children and families, and have a greater impact on reducing the cycle of 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.
The Sacred Valley Project addresses the need for better access to secondary school for Quechua girls from rural Andean communities by removing the barrier of a long and unsafe journey. We do so by providing a dormitory and education center where the girls can live in a safe and nurturing environment while receiving nutritious meals and after school tutoring so that they do not have to make the trek to and from their villages on a daily basis.
The pilot dormitory opened in Ollantaytambo in 2010 and was the first step towards improving access to secondary education for a few young women of the highlands. We quickly gained support from local and international communities alike. In 2015 we opened a second location in a town called Calca, Peru. We support girls from nearly 20 different communities in the region.
Sacred Valley Project students come to the dormitory on Sunday afternoons, attend the local school during the week, and if possible, return home to their villages on the weekends so they may spend time with their families and participate in their traditional familial responsibilities. Students whose villages are too far from the dormitories will spend the weekend with us as well and go home over longer school breaks.
From inception, the dormitory was intended to be more than just a living space. It is a place of community and growth, in which the girls learn to set goals and achieve them in a warm and positive environment. We provide a space that nurtures and supports indigenous girls in their endeavor to adapt to the culture of an urban area, Spanish speaking schools, and academic struggles as result of poor primary education.
To further this mission, the Sacred Valley Project is currently implementing a long term academic and personal development curriculum that is relevant to their culture, communities and personal goals. By hiring high quality, local Quechua teachers to tutor our students, we will be able to not only provide access to secondary education but also to provide these students with environmentally and culturally relevant knowledge.