What the street children in Cusco, Peru taught me.
I was a solo traveller in Cusco, Peru in 1986, to try to understand what the enormous attraction was for me to put my CA life on hold and spend a year there to find out. My years as a daily meditator and as a nurse deepened my understanding of empathy and drew me to Cusco somehow. The abandoned Cusco children sleeping in doorways and stealing food to survive found me and surrounded me every day sharing their lives with me and completely changing mine. Desperate young mothers would often try to give me their swaddled infant speaking to me in the Quechua dialect I didn't understand. A mother myself, I could not mistake her meaning and it shook my world and changed my future forever.
In 1987 I founded Chicuchas Wasi(CW) an emergency shelter for many of the children I had come to know and love. Their ability to open their hearts to each other and me, to bond with other abandoned children and find joy in the smallest moment changed my understanding of humanity. We are here to make a difference, one person can and we do not need to move to Cusco, Peru to do so.
I lived in the shelter for 10 years with these children until a young woman raised and educated as a teacher joined our CW team. Together in 1997, she and I reorganized to educate girls and prepare them for a better future out of poverty. Our school for Girls opened and I returned to CA. to seek funding to support it and this has been my ‘work’ for the last 18 years. The passion is very much alive for both Ruth at the school and for me in CA learning to be creative as a fundraiser.
Today as adults, two of our children from the early years of CW serve as board members of the CW School for Indigenous Girls to educate girls and end child abandonment. For the last 28 years this passion has grown and spread to our teachers and support team knowing that the 110 girls being empowered and educated today will never need to abandon their children. I am still inspired constantly by our girls and all they are achieving and are teaching their mothers and grandmothers - denied education due to poverty and being born a girl.
Review from #MyGivingStory
Chicuchas Wasi is a fantastic organisation and we wish them all the best. They were introduced to us by our tour guide Efrain Valles and we visit the group twice a year on our tours. The project is doing such incredible work and there is always a sense of joy and enthusiasm from all those involved, not least the girls themselves. We are very privileged to visit the project and we always try to support them whenever we can. Many thanks for the warm welcomes we always receive, it is always one of the highlights of our tours to see the wonderful work being done by your incredible team.
Thank you so very much for your kind words about our School and the Cusco team who run it, especially Administrator Ruth Uribe and the teachers. We are very proud here in California of the skill and creativeness that Ruth puts into the curriculum to really engage all 105 girls. Your visits and FaceBook views (many of your travelers I have met here) are much appreciated. Perhaps I will get to meet you on one of your trips that coincides with one of mine.-Rae
I have been familiar with Chicuchas Wasi and the work that they do for several years now. I came to know about it through one of my dearest friends, who as a girl went to that school and was eventually able to come to the US and make a life for herself here from a background of poverty. None of this would have been possible if not for CW. CW is changing lives for young girls in Peru for the better and opening doors that otherwise would undoubtedly remain closed, through education. They also provide meals and transport to/from school. CW is a wonderful organization and deserves all the support it can get.
Thank you Kate for you kind words about CW. I know you know quite a bit about our students and the constant action around what we do here as well as in Cusco at the school. I appreciate so much young people who really understand that one person can make a difference in the lives of others and together we move big mountains.
I met Rae, their founder, last year and am impressed by her dedication to a) this nonprofit's beneficiaries and b) the future of the nonprofit and its ability to continue serving its target population. We have talked at length about our common challenges (I'm the CFO of a separate nonprofit) and am confident she will find a way forward (as she has already by partnering with a local college).
Thank you for taking the time to share your impression of Chicuchas Wasi. It is very helpful to us. I appreciate the work you do also Pam and look forward to many more years of the same.
I have long admired all of the time and energy that has gone into making Chicuchas Wasi the wonderfully enriching school experience for these sweet and eager children who are the fortunate recipients of a free education. They would otherwise have little hope to overcome their impoverished situations. We here in Sonoma are so proud to have witnessed this growth from a spark of the desire to help the helpless to a full fledged academic program of 27 years.
Thank you for this glowing review of our Chicuchas Wasi school for girls. Please visit us on FaceBook @chicuchaswasi and also sign up to receive our newsletters at email@example.com. Thanks again for taking this time to speak out. - Rae
I visited Chicuchas Wasi in 2011 and thanks to their posts on Facebook and their regular newsletters I am able to follow their activities from a distance. I love to see both the smiling faces of the girls as they enjoy their life at school and the concentration on their faces as they are studying. I admire the dedication of the Director, Ruth, and all the staff who enable the students to benefit from an excellent education, a nutritional meal programme and even health care in lovely purpose built facilities. The excellent attendance rates indicate just how much the girls and their parents value the education and all the other benefits that the school provides. It is so important to enable girls to stand on their own two feet in life. Their time at the school will ensure the girls are able make well informed decisions about their future, to provide for themselves and their families and make a good contribution to their community and society at large.
I visited Chicuchas Wasi in September 2011 from the UK whilst in Peru on a Traidcraft Meet the People Tour. I arrived at the school later than my travelling companions, in low spirits after spending the first part of the morning with our guide, a former CW child, at a police station and the British Consulate. (My bag had been stolen the previous night.) The welcome from Ruth and the girls was so warm and everyone was so cheerful that it took very little time for me to forget my feelings. The girls performed a delightful dance for us and I loved being invited to join in a dance with them afterwards. We were also treated to a fashion show and a tour of the classrooms. Each class we visited entertained us with a song and it was lovely to see all their colourful wall displays. The children's behaviour was exemplary. They treated us as honoured guests and were so grateful for the few gifts that had been provided for the school on our behalf. I am delighted that the school now has new, purpose built facilities to enable them to educate even more girls from the indigenous community of Cusco and to give them inspiration for the future. The director and her teachers deserve al the praise they can get, as does their founder. It has been wonderful following the progress of the school and the girls since my return from Peru, thanks to their online posts.
Thank you Sally for sharing your experience with our students at our Chicuchas Wasi School for Girls. They are pretty amazing and their enthusiasm is very contagious. The students are thriving with all the help people like you have given them. You make it possible for them to even go to school. Sorry you had to endure the theft of your documents, I know first hand what that is like. I am sure Efrain took charge and when that was taken care of I am glad the excitement of the school girls and staff just washed the unhappy memory away. I am happy to report that the Tourist Police are everywhere and have seriously clamped down on theft. Countries that are poor must always have this problem, and actually mine does too. I love all your activity and sharing you do of our posts on FB Sally. It really helps and thank you so much for taking the time to do this. Blessings.-Rae
I recently had the privilege of visiting the Chicuchas Wasi school, and I was so impressed! I can't imagine the obstacles and challenges that the young female students face and deal with every single day, but they seemed thrilled to be at this school. They were well-behaved, enthusiastic, affectionate (they gave us so many hugs and kisses), and had smiling, beautiful faces that radiated so much optimism and joie de vivre. They clearly have unfathomable potential. Despite fairly short notice, they had prepared songs, poems, and beautiful artwork for us to take with us. It was such a touching, humbling experience. Also, Ruth, the school director, has such passion and love for these girls; it was really extraordinary to see how she interacted with them and how much they love and respect her. I know that I won't ever forget these girls; they definitely deserve a well-rounded education and every opportunity to become independent, thriving women.
Thank you Tari for taking the time to visit our school. Ruth and the girls are fully committed to overcoming any obstacle that gets in the way of these girls achieving their dreams. Poos girls learn quickly that they are destined to suffer poverty, abuse, oppression, and gender inequality in all areas because they were unfortunate to be born a girl. We are changing that whole image of girls not being worth the effort to educate and inferior to boys. You can see in the faces of our girls that they no longer believe those out dated beliefs and are thriving and intelligent. Please Visit www.chicuchaswasi.org for more information-Please donate to educate a girl and give her economic survival. Thanks for your kind words. I know you see the value of educating all girls.:))
I recently visited this incredible school and I was almost brought to tears by these beautiful children and there amazing teachers. We could see such great work being carried out by these students. The facility is improving all the time and we as a group were so thrilled to supply the children with much needed items to help in there education. What a wonderful job those teachers are doing and hopefully the school can continue to grow into the future.
Thank you Shani. So glad you visited Chicuchas Wasi Alternative School for Girls and could see the light in the eyes of our students. They never believed THEY would be able to go to school. So we are moving mountains of cultural belief that girls are only useful for domestic chores and making babies. Our girls look you right in the eye now and smile their intelligence all over us:)) Please visit www.chicuchaswasi.org to make a donation to keep them in school. Every amount matters and it all adds up. Thank you. @chicuchas wasi on FaceBook too.
I was fortunate enough to visit the Chicuchas Wasi school in 2007 while traveling to Peru. My mother-in-law, Rae Lewis, is the founder of Chicuchas Wasi so I had heard about how she and Ruth Uribe started this organization and how it evolved to it's present day focus of helping young girls acquire necessary scholastic achievements to continue their education. During my visit in 2007, I witnessed first-hand how this program helps so many young girls. It was evident that the Chicuchas Wasi project not only values education, but the project also plays a critical role in giving an opportunity for a better life to young women. Seeing the girls smiling faces in the classroom, proud to show examples of their school work, and the genuine enthusiasm of the teachers, it is plain to see Chacuchas Wasi is a worthwhile cause and makes a difference in the lives of so many families.
Thank you Allison for your enthusiastic review of Chicuchas Wasi School for Girls. It was wonderful to share CWs 21 years of working to help the at-risk children of Cusco, Peru. Our students loved your visit and and interacting with you and Lenny (my son) -even the dancing. The students are not only experiencing huge leaps in their growth with education, they bring home to their siblings new skills to share, and with their family and community. Everybody wins..and it only grows more each day. I hope we make that trip again with Leo one day, so he can experience the joy with the little girls in the school.
My mother founded Chicuchas Wasi many years ago, and I have participated in many Chicuchas Wasi events, fundraisers, and Peru trips over the years. I have seen the workings of this organization from a unique perspective, and I have seen the great impact it has had on many lives.
It would be hard for any 18 year old American to understand why his mother is picking up and moving from California to Peru, but it didn't take long for me to realize what had changed the course of her life: many children in Peru who were in great need of basic care. That was over 25 years ago, and since its founding, Chicuchas Wasi has grown into an amazing network of people who dedicate themselves to selflessly helping the children of Peru. Thank you all for all that you have done. The number of people touched by your work has never been calculated, by I know it is many.
A few years ago I had the opportunity to visit the previous school site while school was in session. What I witnessed was an environment where the students were visibly full of joy and pride. The staff was very engaging and it was clear that the students felt cared for. It is easy to see that the work being done in the school goes beyond the desks and textbooks. Positive change begins with small steps, and the girls at the school are taking the steps to a better future on a daily basis. Behind the scenes there are people like you who are helping these girls along.
I had the pleasure of sharing Chicuchas Wasi with Lenny, my youngest son, many times over the years with his many visits to Cusco. An educator himself, he fully understood how education for these impoverished girls would change them and how they would grow into prepared women, mothers and leaders one day. For a mother to share her major life's work with a son, who is a kindred spirit, was a great treat for me. Lenny teaches High School students Geography and Current Events in Sonoma, CA. and he loves teaching, and his students respond to his interest in them. Hope we all go together one day once again.
Review from Guidestar
We visited Chicuchas Wasi in 2008, before the new school was built. We were on a Traidcraft Meet the People tour and our guide, Efrain, told us about the school and we asked to go. The only opportunity was on a Saturday, and all the girls, their parents and siblings came to school especially to meet us. Efrain had described the work that Ruth and the other staff do to support these underprivileged girls, and it was so good to meet them all and to see for ourselves what a difference this outstanding education makes. The girls confidently spoke to us, asked us questions, and proudly showed us their work. The approach is holistic and they receive much more than simply a basic education; they are encouraged to be creative and thoughtful. Like all children they have terrific potential, but the deep commitment shown by the staff and the parents to these girls means that they have a very good chance of fulfilling theirs.
Another wonderful review from the UK. Thank you Anna for your visit to Chicuchas Wasi School and your great review. Please support our campaign to close the GAP (shortfall of $66K) in our funding for the 2013 total budget of $120K-so we can keep these girls in CW school. Happy Holidays to you and yours. Rae Lewis, Founder
We visited Chicuchas Wasi during a busy couple of weeks in Peru with a Meet the People tour. The school visit was an optional extra and we were so glad we took the option. What an inspirational place. Our small group got a great welcome. The girls clearly enjoy school and were learning well. It was good for us to be able to bring greetings from small rural schools in Scotland. I hope this school continues to go from strength to strength.
Visitors to Chicuchas Wasi from Scotland! How Wonderful. Thank you for your visit and your review. Please support our campaign to close the GAP (shortfall of $66K) in our funding for the 2013 total budget of $120K-so we can keep these girls in school. Happy Holidays to you and yours. Rae Lewis, Founder