Recommended reading: http://www.solucionespracticas.org.pe
Posts by Doris
I had the honour of being at Rio+20 and spent time on our stand, which was part of the UNEP and Bosch and Siemens pavilion called “technology in action”.
I really felt like home over there walking through big models of wind generators, solar panels, improved stoves. It was great to share the space with a lot of NGOs and enterprises that share the vision of technology being central to fight poverty. Projects in Centro America, Asia, Africa and Latin America on renewable energies, access to water and sanitation, climate change.
Our stand showed the power of a “healthy smoke hood” – a very simple technology Practical Action have developed with Bosch and Siemens that can solve the problem of millions of poor families who suffer from the effects of smoke in their homes. Just in Peru, for example, 6 million families still cook with wood or animal dung.
With the support of Bosch and Siemens could avoid the 2 million annual deaths caused by smoke in the kitchen. Valued at $60, and managed by small cooperatives, families can access this technology with $10 dollars and pay the rest in two years.
It was interesting to verify that we all share the vision that technology is only part of the solution. The real challenge is to deal with sustainability, meaning for example, the management of an energy system, the strengthening of local human resources, the promotion of productive uses of energy.
There is a lot to be solved to call many technology solutions really sustainable, but it was great to share some ideas that are really working. We need to engage with national education systems to introduce new technical careers on energy for rural areas, community managed enterprises and generation of small business using energy.
In Peru, we have just received the great news that after two years of concerted effort the Agriculture Ministry will recognize our peasant trainers as legal national providers of technical assistance and integrate them to the National Institute of Agriculture Innovation (INIA). We will now work to get the same opportunity for our energy promoters.No Comments » | Add your comment
To celebrate International Women’s Day we have two stories from Peru which demonstrate how Practical Action’s work helps to empower women in the developing world.
The Chilihua community in Cusco, has a new ‘kamayoq’. This term is an ancient Inca word for an extension worker who advises a community on agricultural practice.
42 year-old Rebelina Tijeras Salas undertook a year of studies at Practical Action’s kamayoq school along with 44 other women from the region. At the end of year fair she stood in her booth preparing to receive her guests and explain to them how to control diseases in their alpaca herds.
From a young age Rebelina (whose name means ‘rebellion’) had been taught everything she needed to know to become a good daughter, wife, mother and alpaca farmer. But her rebellious spirit helped her also to become a leader within a culture in which women are still not valued the same as men.
“I had the chance to move on from being a simple alpaca-breeder to assuming a role that required more dedication, better techniques and implied much more knowledge”, she pointed out. She knew from her ancestors that becoming a kamayoq implied being a teaching authority. From a common alpaca-breeder she would become a leading alpaca-raising technician.
“My second husband never wanted me to be a kamayoq, but this was a commitment I had made to myself and I am determined to fulfill it”, she recalled cheerfully.
“My purpose in life is to be more than a mother and a wife. I want to share my knowledge of development with my community to achieve general progress instead of being the only one to benefit from this opportunity.”
Whilst she was speaking, six year-old Paul, her fourth child, stood next to her. He is accustomed to listening to her talk that way because he accompanied her to the kamayoq school thanks to the nursery available at every monthly meeting.
Yolanda Barrientos is the 24 year-old teacher in charge of the nursery. Some of the lessons she uses with the children include alpacas as the protagonists, so that they feel they are learning the same thing as their mothers. More than 80% of the participants have children between 1 and 5 years of age, which can be an excuse for not attending workshops. This was a determining factor for Rebelina, as she was able to take Paul with her at all times.
After so many months of studying, Rebelina is taking advantage of her experience. “It has been a great change for both my family and my sector. This has helped me develop, to feel more inclined to participate and to be valued not only for who I am but for what I know”, she remarked.
Her next goal is to specialize in leadership in addition to animal health. “Previously, my alpaca herds would be attacked by disease without my realizing it, but now I know the technical names and how to prevent them. Look at everything that has happened to me, but yet I have succeeded”, she added. “Nothing is impossible in life when you want it badly enough and in this case, achieving it has not only made me happy, but benefits my whole community.”
Rebelina’s farewell smile softened the hard look she has acquired over time. She continued explaining about the medication she must apply to her alpacas, with the self-confidence acquired as a result of the training she received at Kamayoq school.No Comments » | Add your comment
After an intensive year of studying at Practical Action’s Kamayoq School, one of the 45 women will make a presentation about what they were taught in their course for Alpaca farmers in Toxaccota, Cusco, Peru.
July Quispe Quincho is full of enthusiasm, nervous but excited about speaking in public. A year ago she found out that her mother would be joining the school and she wished with all her might that she too could do so, although she was only fifteen. “I was waiting for an opportunity to develop my love for animals.,” she recalls, “But I was told that the minimum age was 25.”
Because of her passion for animals, she gained the confidence of her community who proposed that she should become a Kamayoq alongside her mother Vistación Quinco. So July became the youngest Kamayoq student.
July and Vistación feel that the alpaca-raising classes they attended at the Kamayoq school went beyond the limits of a simple learning experience. In the Peruvian highlands, farming and livestock-raising are the main source of income for families like theirs. Moreover, it is the women in the households who carry out those chores. That is why learning to improve their production and market their wool has made them feel much more secure in their role in the household and in the community.
“This has been the greatest challenge of my life”, said July, as she stood in the midst of the alpacas that will be her own within a few years. The bright colours of her clothing and the sparkle in her eyes still show the innocence of a child. But her determination to educate herself conveys a sense of self-confidence that makes her stand out among the other girls of her age.
Her mother, 36 year-old Vistación, is very proud of July. She is the eldest of her three children and although she had her doubts when July suggested going to the Kamayoq School with her, she now has the utmost confidence in her. “To see my daughter learning from such a young age is very satisfying. I only completed grade three of primary school,” said Vistacion, who had to leave her studies when she was very young to bring up her family.
Many households in the so-called “puna” – the highest region in the Peruvian highlands – have preserved many of their ancestors’ customs. Initially, July’s father was not at all pleased at the idea of his wife and daughter leaving home for five days a month and it was difficult for Vistación to convince him. Now, as she listens to July talking confidently about the shearing process or how the women should act in their communities, she knows that supporting her daughter was right. “My husband has also understood this and now he stays home taking care of the alpacas when we go to the school for training”, she explained.
July’s father talks to her about the alpacas that she will soon manage on her own. “It is the inheritance my parents will leave me and I must look after them in the best possible way”, she confirmed. She began talking about the beautiful sweaters she could make.
July’s success is replicated at school. She is in the third year of secondary school and is the new leader of her classroom. “My friends have noticed something different in me” she added with a broad smile. “I have explained that they must obtain the support of their community, but they are eager to learn more about the alpacas”, she continued. She has promised them that she will teach them about mating techniques, business management and handicrafts, three of the subjects that have most attracted her attention during her year of studies.
“I already feel like a Kamayoq and I am proud to have been part of this course. I could live in the “puna” forever, alongside my animals, as long as I am a professional” she ended. That is her goal in life and she will always consider the Kamayoq school as the first step towards her preparation for the future.No Comments » | Add your comment
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