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Ensuring Access to Education for Indigenous Young Women The Sacred Valley Project

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cute girl of the flower H'mong indigenous women at walking street in Sapa, Vietnam

The Sacred Valley Project (SVP) was established in 2009 to provide educational support services for young women from low-income, rural and hard-to-reach regions of the Andes by facilitating access to secondary education.

In the Sacred Valley of Peru, the world’s most direct descendants of the Incan 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, which are too far away from home for students to commute to daily. While boys often move to urban centers to pursue an education, this same opportunity is not available for many girls. Only three in every ten Peruvian girls from rural Andean communities enroll in high school.

SVP addresses the myriad barriers to education that girls experience—socio-cultural, linguistic, geographic, and economic—by providing a safe and nurturing dormitory in the town of Ollantaytambo, a central hub in the Sacred Valley. SVP enrolls its students in the local public high school. In addition to providing housing, SVP provides healthy meals, tutoring, supplementary education, life skills classes and economic development classes.

In collaboration with village leaders, parents, and community members of the Comunidad Indigena Ollanta (Indigenous Community of Ollantaytambo), SVP rents a small dormitory, where twelve female students currently reside during the week while attending the local high school. In the 2013 school year SVP will be building its own permanent education center and dormitory, thanks to partnerships with the local community and a generous donation by the Keeler Foundation.

The new dormitory will provide space for more girls to enroll in high school, as well as classrooms, a computer lab, and a large kitchen. In addition, thanks to a partnership with the Latin American Foundation for the Future, SVP will be installing an industrial oven and will start a small business, selling whole-grain bread and baked goods. Beyond the financial support, the oven will allow girls to have internship opportunities in business administration, baking, marketing, and communications. This will in turn open up opportunities to become economically independent and provide a self-sustainable non-profit model to provide essential services to the region.

While there is still much to be done in the Sacred Valley, SVP has taken a step towards women’s rights by providing the opportunity for more young women to attend high school.

Creative Commons Love: whl.travel

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