Who We Are

Our Purpose and Promise

We share experiences in Southern Peru dating back to the 1960s, including Peace Corps, agricultural and anthropological research, and community development. We share a deep and abiding respect for and understanding of Andean culture and people. We are committed to working with rural communities in Southern Peru to design and implement self-sustaining projects in health, education, and economic development. Learn more about our current work »

Our Philosophy

We believe in the capacity of Andean people to create self-sustaining activities that will improve their living standards and quality of life. We intentionally work with highly-motivated associations within communities, a process that leads to capacity-building in separate areas of development, expanding from individuals and small groups to the larger, entire community.

Our Mission

The Chijnaya Foundation works in partnership with rural communities in Southern Peru to design and implement self-sustaining projects in health, education, and economic development.

Community and Collaboration

We bring diverse talents, interests, and capacities to our endeavors, creating an operating board that carries out distinctive activities in each community. We use our diverse talents to create synergies among projects, each individual project supporting the others and designed to empower communities.

How We Work

By providing humanitarian, technical, and development assistance to communities in the Andean highlands of Southern Peru, the Foundation is able to administer grants and loans, technical expertise, and research in agriculture, health, small industry, traditional crafts, housing, and community services, all focused on improving the cultural and economic well-being of indigenous Andean people.


Whenever possible, we use principles of micro-lending and rotating loan funding to underwrite projects and to enable communities to sustain development.

Our Team

The Chijnaya Foundation Board of Trustees is a small, diverse group of volunteers who share a passion and commitment to improve the lives of indigenous peoples and villages on the Altiplano of Southern Peru.

Our History

The Foundation organized its work as a 501c(3) in New Mexico in 2005, following a visit to the community of Chijnaya, Peru, by Dr. Ralph Bolton, an anthropologist who worked there as a Peace Corps Volunteer, 40 years earlier.  The remarkable visit after four decades provided the opportunity to renew relationships and, at the request of the people, partner again with them to improve their lives.  Dr. Bolton has been able to assemble a unique board and a growing number of volunteers to join him in establishing the Foundation and carrying out successful projects through hard work and very limited funds.  The people of Chijnaya and many neighboring communities in the Titicaca Basin of Southern Peru have worked progressively to raise their standards of living and quality of life, all in just a few years.

The future of the work is bright, with many opportunities to expand projects and engage communities in their own development. We increasingly partner with public and private entities and volunteers to accomplish projects: the Peruvian American Dental Association, Suma Marka, Engineers Without Borders at the University of California-Berkeley and Utah State University, Lifeboat Foundation, Global Water Watch, Reserva Nacional Titicaca, the Loma Linda University School of Public Health, Lions Clubs, student volunteers (from eight universities in the United States thus far, University of Trondheim in Norway, and the National University of the Altiplano), the Peruvian Ministries of Health and Education, the Peruvian Navy, the Libraries Department of the Municipality of Lima, and the Municipal Council and Museum of Pucará.

To expedite the work in Peru, the Foundation has incorporated an operating arm, “Asociación Pro Desarrollo Integral del Altiplano en Peru,” to act in a fiduciary capacity in Peru. We now have one, paid Peruvian Field Representative, David Cajo, who is instrumental in organizing and supervising projects “on the ground” and aiding communities as they form associations to accomplish projects. Dr. Bolton averages 100 days each year in Peru. Other board members regularly travel to Peru to work on projects with non-board volunteers who provide their expenses to participate in these endeavors. We are organized to get the work done and to evaluate our outcomes in order to become even more effective. Increasingly, we will expand fund development, to raise more resources to fund the work adequately.

Important Facts About The Chijnaya Foundation

  • Members of the Board of Directors of the Foundation are all volunteers who pay their own expenses to attend Board meetings and when working on projects in Peru.
  • All administrative expenses of the Foundation are covered by donations from Board members; all private individual donations are devoted exclusively to projects in Peru.
  • The Foundation spends less than 2% of its revenues on fundraising.
  • The operational arm of the Foundation is our legally-constituted Peruvian counterpart, the Pro-DIA Association. Pro-DIA has a full-time paid Project Director, a young anthropologist (Jhuver Aguirre), and two part-time employees, including the dentist in charge of the oral health program (Dr. Maria del Carmen Aragon) and a young woman responsible for our savings programs (Rosmery Montesinos). These staff members are Peruvians.
  • The work of the Foundation is carried out in a limited set of communities, 24 at the present time. We believe that to be effective it is necessary to focus on a limited geographical and cultural area, and that all work must be based on deep understanding of the local culture.
  • Once a community becomes a partner and member of our network of communities, we work with the community long term to develop a comprehensive development strategy and on-going collaboration to meet the goals of the community. We do not engage in hit-and-run humanitarian work. We emphasize self-help and sustainable development.
  • All projects must emerge from the community itself and be based on the perceived needs of members of the community. To assure success, our Board members and the Pro-DIA staff serve as consultants, assisting the community in planning the implementation of approved projects.
  • The Foundation receives no government funding for any of its projects.
  • The Foundation was started by a group of returned Peace Corps Volunteers and social scientists who have done research in Peru, plus their friends. The current Board of Directors includes Peruvians as well as members who reside in the United States, Australia and Italy. Please contact us if you are interested in participating in our work in any capacity.
  • We gladly welcome donors and potential donors to visit Peru and to observe the work we do. Visitors may participate in our community meetings and talk to the beneficiaries of our work. Contact us if you are interested in arranging a visit.
  • We employ no fundraising gimmicks: no free address labels, no pictures of starving kids intended to tug at your heartstrings, no one-week matching funds. We explain the need. We appeal to your desire to help those in need, but to do so in a way that respects the dignity of all persons, those who give help and those who receive it.

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