CHALLENGES COMMUNITIES ARE FACING DUE TO THE COVID-19 CRISIS
In Peru, the most vulnerable populations have been the most affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. Rural communities on the altiplano already suffer from a lack of basic health services, economic insecurity, and marginalization and are facing devastating physical and economic effects due to the global crisis. The local health centers of the region lack many vital resources required to provide health services in response to the virus and the global economic crisis has had a devastating impact on the fragile economy of rural communities.
Tourism and artisan associations have experienced a severe decrease in their income because tourism in Peru has been completely suspended while the country has been under a strict quarantine since March 16th. Alpaca herders and cattle herders have also experienced a decrease in income because limited inter-regional travel has made it difficult to sell their products to third party distributors.
OUR RESPONSE TO COVID-19
INFORM THROUGH COMMUNITY RADIO
Radio is an important form of communication in the rural sector where many remote communities have limited or non-existent access to cell phone service and internet. Our partners at Pro-DIA began a weekly 2-hour radio program in May that provides information on health and prevention topics as well as financial education related to COVID-19. The program is broadcasted in both Spanish and the local language of Quechua on the local radio in Pucará. You can tune into the weekly radio program here every Friday from 10 AM – 12 PM PET (Peruvian Standard Time).
PROVIDE PPE TO RURAL HEALTH CENTERS
Many rural health centers in the Puno region lack proper equipment to provide services in response to COVID-19. In response to this lack of equipment, The Chijnaya Foundation worked with Pro-DIA to supply 34 workers in the 5 rural health centers in the district of Pucará with PPE kits. The kits include protective suits, face shields, shoe sanitizer trays, and hand sanitizer.
PARTICIPATE IN LOCAL PREVENTION EFFORTS
Local organizations in Pucará, including the municipality and community leaders, have formed a group called “Commando COVID” with the goal of combining efforts to contribute to the prevention of COVID-19 in the district. Pro-DIA is an official member of this group and is dedicated to using the weekly radio program to share important information from the various organizations participating in Comando COVID.
CONTINUE TO SUPPORT PROJECTS THAT PROVIDE ECONOMIC STABILITY
Economic development has been at the heart of the Chijnaya Foundation since the beginning. We have been supporting community-led projects that help communities improve and gain more autonomy over their income generating activities with the goal of increasing income and improving the family economy. These projects are especially important this year as a way to offset the effects of the global economic crisis.
OVERVIEW OF NEW SAFETY MEASURES AND PROGRAM CHANGES
In accordance with the social distancing and quarantine requirements of Peru, the Pro-DIA office in Pucará has been closed since March 16th and Pro-DIA staff have been working remotely. Once the Peruvian government deems it safe to open to office, the team has outlined safety guidelines that they will follow to ensure the safety of staff and visitors.
There have been changes to some of our programs to ensure the safety and well-being of staff. Dra. Maria del Carmen Aragon, the dentist in charge of the Oral Health Program, will not be providing dental treatments for the rest of 2020, however she will continue to provide training on oral health for children and their parents and provide training attendees with toothbrushes and toothpaste. She will also provide training on prevention and health topics. Due to the strict quarantine measures in Peru, she is currently providing communities with this information through the weekly radio program.
Savings Group meetings have been on hold and some groups have begun to meet as it becomes safer to hold small meetings within their communities. Rosmery Montesinos, the Director of the Savings Program, has been facilitating these meetings by phone in order to comply with local social distancing measures.
We are working with communities on an individual basis to assess their needs and assist them to make necessary modifications to projects and repayment plans for rotating funds under the Economic Development Program. Repayment of rotating funds for 2018-2019 projects will be extended for communities that are not able to payback funds this year.
WHAT HAS REMAINED THE SAME
Although we have made changes to adapt to the current circumstances, many existing programs and projects have remained the same and are vital, now more than ever, to support to communities as they face new challenges.
Artisans, tourism associations, cattle herders, and alpaca herders all rely on third parties who purchase their products and services, further process them, and sell them for a much higher price. The Economic Development Program was created in response to communities’ desire to gain more autonomy over their small businesses and economic stability through increased income. Since 2005 we have been supporting community-led projects that support these goals. These projects are critical as communities continue to develop and formalize their small businesses to receive a stable income in the face of the global crisis. Many projects, such as the Oat Seed Purchase Projects in the communities of Mallajasi and Chillin, will provide communities with an additional source of income for the year and help offset the decrease in income that they are experiencing. You can read about the different projects communities proposed for 2020 here.
The Scholarship Program is also of vital importance as families face economic hardships, making it challenging to support the higher education of their children. Although scholars are facing new challenges with university classes moving to a digital platform, the Pro-DIA team is in contact with each of the scholarship recipients to assess their needs and provide support where we can.
SUMMER MATCHING CAMPAIGN 2020
The Chijnaya Foundation was created in 2005 following a return visit to Chijnaya by Dr. Ralph Bolton, the anthropologist who helped establish the community when he worked there as a Peace Corps volunteer in the early 1960s. Ralph’s deep appreciation for the people and culture of the altiplano inspired his career as a world renowned expert in Andean ethnography and he built a lifelong connection and dedication to the region.
This year’s summer matching campaign is in honor of Founder and past President, Ralph Bolton, who has been tireless in his efforts and deeply committed to the people of Peru. Since its creation in 2005, The Chijnaya Foundation has valued a community-led, integrated approach that emphasizes local leadership and prioritizes working with communities long-term. This approach has created lasting change over the past 15 years and we are committed to maintaining these cores values that Ralph instilled in the foundation as we continue to grow with your support.
“The creative and rapid response to the challenges of the pandemic underscore the utility of the Foundation’s long-term commitment to a sustained approach to development. With the continued support of donors, I am optimistic about the future. Please join us with a gift to this summer’s matching campaign, to honor Ralph Bolton and further the Foundation’s efforts to promote the wellbeing of communities in the altiplano.” –Susan C. Bourque, President of The Chijnaya Foundation
This work has been possible in large part thanks to loyal donor support and the growing community of people passionate about the on-going work in Peru. We want to say thank you to everyone who contributes to this work and we hope you know just how big of a difference you make.
YOUR DONATION, AND IMPACT, WILL BE DOUBLED!
A donation to the Chijnaya foundation will significantly impact numerous lives in the Puno region. Your contribution will be used to continue the initiatives in response to COVID-19, to support income generating activities, and to maintain access to higher education for scholarship recipients. All donations made between July 1st– August 31st will be matched up to $75,000 during our annual Summer Matching Campaign.