The Peru's Challenge Program was started by Jane Gavel (Australian) and Selvy Ugaz (Peruvian) when they were just 24 years old.
Since October 2003, Peru's Challenge has:
Peru’s Challenge was registered by Jane and Selvy in June 2002. It took a year and a half to get full registration and to complete the correct paperwork. The first volunteer group came in October 2003 and worked in the Picol community, just in the other valley. When we first started in Picol, there was one teacher who was drunk and in charge of 12 kids. The school was being closed down by the Department of Education. For 2 ½ yrs, Peru’s Challenge worked in Picol, and we left the school with 6 teachers, 170 kids, 6 classrooms and a completely functioning school.
In 2002, the Department of Education closed down 600 rural schools due to lack of resources and funding. It is a vicious cycle: if a school isn’t being supported with proper buildings and teachers, parents of the community don’t want their kids to go because it is a waste of time; the kids could be helping in the fields and at home. When kids don’t show up to school, the Department of Education sees there are no kids who go there and claims they do not have the resources to waste on such a school, and consequently the school is closed down.
Our aim is to go into the rural communities that are close to Cuzco because the area is affected by tourism. People in the communities abandon education because they are trying to make an income by selling lollies, postcards and other handicrafts on the streets. The children sell instead of going to school and as a result the importance of education is negated in favour of immediate income. That is why we are here. We work for a minimum of 3 years and a maximum of 5 years in the community. We aren’t coming in to just give handouts or do quick work. We also aren’t staying too long—just long enough to make the community self-sufficient by the time we go. Community members are always involved in all decisions, construction, project organization and administration of any project because it makes them become proud, they will put ownership on it and they look after it. If they come up with and work on all of these projects, they will want to keep them going, and it is our hope the work we all do together makes permanent changes for the community.