A Banner Year in 2014 for the Chijnaya Foundation!
Dear Donors and Friends of The Chijnaya Foundation,
As 2014 draws to a close, those of us involved in the work of The Chijnaya Foundation reflect on what has been accomplished during the year. At the same time, we look to the future, to the projects we hope to implement during the coming year. In these pages, allow me to summarize what our team has done this year in collaboration with our partners in rural communities in highland Peru. We are proud of our successes, but at the same time, we are profoundly aware of how much more needs to be done. We are always seeking ways to improve our effectiveness in achieving our aim of enhancing the quality of life for struggling indigenous farm families who live under difficult conditions in the Andes. As you learn about our work, we hope you will consider how you might help us to fulfill this goal.
Investing in Village Youth—The Scholarship & Education Program:
The Scholarship Program of the Foundation provides financial assistance to young men and women from the communities in our network who wish to continue their education at the university or technical institute level. Most of these students are the first ones in their families to continue studies beyond high school. In 2013 the Foundation gave scholarships to 40 village youth. Begun several years ago, the Scholarship Program is beginning to bear fruit as our scholars graduate and embark on their careers. Some of our graduates are now employed as nurses, anthropologists, mining engineers, accountants, business administrators, and in other careers. We are proud of their successes!
The Foundation values program evaluations. To assess the effectiveness of our Scholarship Program, we have contracted with an NGO program assessments specialist from the National University of the Altiplano to conduct an independent analysis of our program. He is interviewing all of our past and present scholars as well as other villagers to answer questions about the impact of the program. His report will be ready by January 2015. We should note that the scholars have created their own association and web presence in order to work together on projects benefiting their communities and to exchange experiences. Our Project Director, Jhuver Aguirre, has been instrumental in assisting them in this endeavor to “give back” out of gratitude for the Foundation’s assistance.
Applications for the 2015 scholarships were due on November 15. On that date applicants traveled to Pucara to write their essays and submit the required documents. An unexpectedly large number of candidates presented themselves—over 180! Selecting the winners is going to be an arduous process. We have some funds committed to the 2015 program, enough to cover approximately 50 students. We will need to work hard to raise enough additional funds to support the best applicants. Most of these students are from poor families, and without our support, they will be unable to pursue their education.
The Microfinance-Rotating Fund and Group Savings Programs:
We initiated a microfinance and rotating fund program in 2006 in one community, Chijnaya. We now have communal rotating funds in 15 communities. Over these eight years, these funds have grown to a total of $143,194, thanks to 34 donations to the funds in support of projects proposed by the communities. Thus our grants have averaged around $4,000. With this money, these communities have carried out 1,132 projects. This is an amazing accomplishment and a very productive use of funds donated to the Foundation. These projects have focused on increasing agricultural and artisan production, and I am happy to report that the results are impressive. For hundreds of poor families, the added income is making a significant difference in their quality of life. The projects carried out included construction of animal shelters, improved seed, improved livestock (alpacas and pigs), and feeding troughs. Among our projects in 2014 were the acquisition of compressors for ceramic artisan production, the completion of a cheese factory, and the purchase of fencing wire for alpaca herds.
The villagers who receive a loan (in materials, not cash) must repay at the end of one year. Our repayment rate is over 99%. Our Project Director oversees the loans and assists with the purchase of materials. Community leaders are in charge of administering the program in their communities. This type of microfinance program is well-suited to Andean culture with traditions of mutual aid. We have many more communities asking the Foundation to initiate a microfinance project in their community. And some of the rotating funds need additional resources. For under $5,000 we can create a new rotating fund in a community.
This year we initiated a small-group savings program to complement our micro-loan program. Supported by a grant from a Board member, we hired one of our former scholars, Yanet Chino, who graduated in Anthropology from the National University of the Altiplano, to work part-time on this project. She visits
communities to explain the concept of “savings groups” and to organize individuals interested in participating in a group. These are mainly women’s groups since women in the Andes tend to be the guardians of the family finances. Yanet started work in September and in the first two months she held meetings in six communities and formed five groups with a total membership of 40 individuals. This is an experimental project, and in a year we should know if this type of program, successful in many parts of the world, can work in the Altiplano context.
The Healthy Kitchens—Smoke-Free Stoves Program:
United Nations agencies, the U.S. State Department, and just about everybody else recognizes the importance of improving the cooking conditions in many poor regions of the world where food is prepared over open fires in enclosed spaces. These smokey environments are extremely detrimental to health, especially for women and children most exposed to them. The high-altitude environment, already low in oxygen, is even worse than most. Respiratory and vision damage are especially notable in this context. The Foundation’s “healthy kitchens” program is an important component in our efforts to improve the health of our village partners.
We began to promote smoke-free stoves several years ago. The cooks loved them. However, after a couple of years we discovered that the chimneys in many cases had deteriorated to the point that the stoves were no longer usable—they no longer vented the smoke. Although made of heavy duty metal, these chimneys corroded quickly in the harsh environment of the Altiplano with its dramatic diurnal extremes in temperature. The Foundation decided to replace all of the defective chimneys and stoves at no cost to villagers. This year we have financed the construction of 300 chimneys using cement tubes which we expect to have much greater longevity. Included in that number are the replacements as well as first-time stoves in the communities that have joined our network more recently. This is a very popular program, and we will need funds to build an additional 300 stoves and chimneys in 2015.
Discussions about replacing the defective chimneys took a different direction in the alpaca herding community of Coarita (15,000 feet above sea level). Alpaca husbandry requires that the herds be moved among different pasturelands during the year. The herders move with the herds, living in small huts in the dispersed grazing pastures. They are transhumant. Consequently, a fixed stove in their primary compound is of little use during many months of the year. The herders made a good case for replacing the defective stoves with portable gas stoves that they could carry with them as they moved about. As a result, the Foundation purchased gas stoves for these villagers. We worried about their ability to purchase the gas regularly, but they convinced us that this was feasible, especially because many of them qualify for a subsidized price because of their low income.
The Oral Health & Education Program:
The health focus of the Foundation is on dental care. Access to adequate dental services is difficult for the people in our network of communities. A local dentist, Dr. Maria del Carmen Aragon, is part of our team, and using portable equipment supplied by the Foundation, she is working hard to meet the villagers’ dental needs. Her activities include basic procedures such as filling caries and extracting teeth when necessary, visiting schools to provide instruction to children in proper oral health care along with toothbrushes and toothpaste, visiting in homes to reinforce this training, and carrying out fluoridation for children. In addition to serving the communities in the network, Dr. Aragon collaborates with the Peruvian Navy on Lake Titicaca, joining them on expeditions to isolated communities to provide social services, and she participates in health campaigns in other communities organized by the Lions Club of Puno. For several weeks, a young volunteer Australian dentist, Dr. Vaibhav Garg, assisted Dr. Aragon.
During 2014, Dr. Aragon carried out 54 dental campaigns in the 15 communities in our network, with three or four visits to each community. On these visits she treated 931 patients for various oral health conditions (fillings, extractions, medications). She also carried out activities, fluoridation (1513 treatments) and talks, in 44 schools in the area. In addition, with the Peruvian Navy and the Lions Club she treated patients in 11 additional communities or institutions (488 patients). Finally, she conducted home visits to 39 families in Tuni Requena to reinforce training on proper dental care.
The Agricultural Equipment Program:
Increasing agricultural production in the rural communities where we work requires access to modern farming equipment. Thanks to the involvement of a generous friend of the Foundation, six years ago we managed to arrange a loan ($50,000 US) for Chijnaya to enable the community to purchase a powerful John Deere tractor and implements. This equipment was critical in increasing the acreage under cultivation. I am happy to report that the community has now repaid the loan in full.
Other communities in our network are also in need of tractors. The Foundation needs $100,000 to lend to Tuni Grande, Tuni Requena, and Angora Bajo for this purpose. Given the experience in Chijnaya, we are confident in the ability of these communities to repay the low-interest loans. As these communities repay their loans, we will invest the proceeds in additional equipment for other communities. These funds will not become part of the communal rotating funds program.
Collaborative Initiatives--Engineers Without Borders and The Nuñoa Project:
Animal sheds built with loans from the communal rotating funds have been extremely successful in increasing milk production and family incomes. Those types of stationary sheds, however, are not appropriate in alpaca herding communities since the pastoralists are transhumant, moving their herds from one zone to another according to the season. We are currently working with a group of engineers (Engineers Without Borders) from Utah State University to design durable portable sheds that could be used by alpaca herders, especially to protect the baby alpacas. Alpaca young have a high mortality rate due to the extreme cold they endure during the winter. These portable sheds will improve survival rates.
We are also beginning an exciting collaboration with The Nuñoa Project. Peruvian and North American veterinary scientists affiliated with this organization will work to improve the genetic quality of the alpaca herds in three of the communities in the Foundation’s network: La Unión, Pucarayllo and Coarita. The livelihood in these communities is based almost exclusively on alpaca herding. The Project will provide improved breeding stock and technical advice. Given our ongoing involvement in these communities and visits by our Project Director in Pucará, Jhuver Aguirre, The Foundation will serve as liaison between the project personnel and the communities. In addition, a longtime friend of the Foundation, Rolly Thompson, is working with these communities on an alpaca yarn project whose goal is to export fine handspun yarns. Rolly has visited the communities several times, and she will be in charge of marketing the yarn. Once launched, this project should increase significantly the income of alpaca herding families. The next site visit for discussions with the communities is scheduled for the first week in December.
Outreach Activities—Donors and Peruvian and American Universities:
During the year the Foundation collaborated with student groups from Bellarmine University and Loma Linda University. David and Jhuver facilitated these visits, arranging accommodations in village homes and local transportation. This exposure to village life gives these foreign students a different view of the world. At the same time, we consider it important to inform Peruvian colleagues and students about our work. Board members Paul Doughty and Ralph Bolton have participated in conferences on applied anthropology, both in Peru and the United States, to describe the Foundation’s approach to rural development. In 2014, I spoke to anthropology faculty and students at the national universities in Trujillo and Arequipa. Many of these students will become leaders in the nonprofit sector and in government agencies with responsibilities for promoting development. Students from the Universidad Nacional San Agustin of Arequipa spent several days on an excursion to our communities to learn about our work. I am also working closely with the Peruvian National Anthropology Association to promote applied anthropology on the Chijnaya model.
We always welcome donors to visit Peru to see our work for themselves. This past September a group of donors had the chance to inspect projects in various communities and to discuss the work with the villagers. Let us know if you would like to visit. Below is a picture of visitors and villagers after a meeting in the community of Chillin. And a picture of a tarka band playing traditional music for the visitors in the community of Tuni Requena. A description of the events during their visit will be posted soon on the website of the Foundation (www.chijnayafoundation.org): “Altiplano Adventure Highlights”.
The Funding Challenge—Matching Grant Program: I would like to thank all of you who have donated to the Foundation in the past and to ask that you continue to support our work. I invite those who have not yet contributed to consider doing so at this time. We have a three-year matching grant from a generous supporter of the Foundation. For every dollar contributed by a new donor, he will match it up to a total of $25,000 per year. He will also match every increase in donations by our former donors. So if you gave $100 last year and give $200 this year, we will get an additional $100 from the matching donor.
To meet our most urgent program needs for 2015, we must raise $200,000 before the Board meets in late January to select the projects we can support and to determine the annual budget. I would remind you that we have an all-volunteer Board. Our members pay their own expenses to attend meetings and when they travel to Peru to work on projects. Further, donations from Board members cover all administrative expenses of the Foundation, including any costs associated with fundraising. Every dollar donated by private individuals is applied directly to our projects in Andean communities. We run a small, focused, effective and efficient operation. We take pride in making sure that your money is wisely invested in projects that produce results. Please consider making a donation today. We cannot do this work without you!