I’m happy to report that everything went smoothly for our team of four women, which consisted of Bertha and her daughter, Majaida, Bertha’s best friend, Maibeli, and myself. We were lucky with weather and transportation this time around, and I returned home safe and happy after spending time with the Q’ero people. I bring you all warm greetings and hugs of gratitude from the Q’ero communities of Quico, Yanaruma, Ccochamarca and Hapu.
Community Council Meetings
In each community we held our annual meetings to discuss the projects we’ve previously funded and to assess the community’s needs for the coming year. Some of the meetings went well into the cold, cold night, and some lasted over six hours in the blistering sun. But the elements did not detract from the pride and contentment the Q’ero people feel about the projects they worked so hard to implement. In fact, the meetings ran longer because every community member stood to personally share their appreciation to the friends of Heart Walk Foundation — YOU!
We purchased textiles from every weaver in each community, as we’ve done every year for the past 20 years. This year we injected over $6,500 of income into the hands of the women who continue to produce the beautiful Q’ero textiles they are famous for. This income serves every family in every community, and ensures that the ancient weaving techniques and cultural knowledge are preserved.
We ended up spending way more than our budget for textiles this year, but we are very pleased about that — it’s because there are more weavers than ever in the communities producing textiles of very fine quality. Girls as young as six years old are learning to weave and we LOVE it! Thanks to Heart Walk Foundation’s efforts to share their textiles with the world, more and more women have continued their craft and are teaching the next generation to earn a dignified living that honors their culture. We couldn’t be more pleased about going over budget on a project!!!
Advancing Education of Q’ero Kids
This year, our visits to the elementary schools were a heightened priority as we strive to assist the teachers in preparing their young students for high school and beyond. In Quico we met with, and celebrated, three outstanding teachers who understand that the lack of parental support at home is not the parent’s fault. It’s difficult for these first-generation learners to get help with homework, because their parents are mostly illiterate. Their parents also don’t have the financial means to buy notebooks and school supplies, which is custom in urban school settings. These teachers make up the difference, by working with what they have. They even offer weekly classes to any parents who want to learn to read.
The teachers expressed gratitude to Heart Walk Foundation for donating school supplies and classroom materials, and they are thrilled with the prefabricated classroom we donated to the Quico elementary school. They’ve turned the little classroom into a library and learning center for the children. We recognized them for their sincere efforts and promised to bring books and magazines to fill the shelves of the Quico library.
Food Staples Save Lives
On this visit we distributed our 12th and final emergency food to each community. This intervention began out of necessity during the pandemic, when the communities were left desperate and isolated during a very long quarantine period. We extended food support during the more recent political unrest that included strikes, shutdowns, and excessive inflation. Going forward, Heart Walk Foundation will continue to supply food staples for the elderly and impaired persons who have difficulty working the potato crops.
Despite the recent unfavorable potato harvests in Q’eros — due to unseasonal climate variations — the people are not going hungry, thanks to the successful trout projects in Q’eros. Heart Walk Foundation started the trout project in 2007 when the founders noticed healthy trout inhabiting the streams and rivers in lower regions. When it was clear that trout could thrive in the cold alpine lakes of Q’eros, every family was given thousands of fingerling trout to stock their own lagoons. The astonishing size of the trout is not some “fish story” but tells a truly wonderful story of sustainable food security.
The trout project, along with the implementation of 110 greenhouses, now provide the communities with a variety of nutritional food sources and shields them against single crop dependency. The people are extremely proud of their trout AND their ability to provide sustenance for themselves.
New Water Project in Hapu
Another incredible project is underway in Hapu! We’ve teamed up with the entire community to provide running water and spigots to each home, so that families won’t have to carry water from the 8 existing communal spigots to their homes. Bertha oversaw the pipe installation, and everyone in the Hapu helped with the manual labor.
This is the beauty of Heart Walk Foundation’s partnership with the Q’ero people. When the community really wants something for themselves, they will collectively move mountains to make it happen. We only step in to provide them the material resources they are lacking, and then they can take ownership of the projects.
Of course, we also have to give credit to Bertha, who oversees and brings the technical expertise to the projects. Without her determination, coordination, exhaustive work ethic, and somewhat stubborn nature, we would never be able to accomplish so much with such limited funds.
The water project is nearing completion, and the majority of households now have water piped right to their homes. But we did encounter trouble with fitting the 8 existing spigots, as they are so old that the size of the pipe and hardware, 3/4 inch, is no longer available. Since the project is already underway, we had to increase our budget to include the replacement of all the existing pipes and hardware to match the pipe being laid. This is necessary to ensure that the joints don’t burst and flood someone’s home in the middle of the night.
Between the water project and the over purchase of textiles, our budget for the remainder of the year will be very tight. We still have many projects left to complete and we’re hoping you will support us!