Where We Work
We currently work in Cajamarca, Peru and hope to create a second Latin American work site in the future.
Cajamarca is situated in the Andes mountains 530 miles northeast of Lima and 8,928 feet above sea level. It is a remote area (accessible by a 20-hour bus ride) with poor roads and infrastructure. The region of Cajamarca accounts for 5 percent of the population and is divided into 13 provinces, one of which is named Cajamarca. The capital is the city of Cajamarca, which is home to 156,821 people – half of whom are women who often maintain small businesses in agriculture, husbandry, artisan crafts or food preparation in order to sustain their families.
In 2006, FONCODES, the National Foundation for Social Development, a national health program of the government of Peru (www.foncodes.gob.pe), determined that Cajamarca was categorized as the country’s third poorest region. More than 76 percent of the population is below the poverty line and 12 percent are below the extreme poverty line with the average annual income equivalent to $710. Many families do not have access to basic living necessities: 37 percent do not have potable water; 25 percent are without a latrine; 68 percent do not have electricity. Families live in simple households with dirt floors, unfinished walls, no electricity and use wood burning stoves for cooking.
Cajamarca occupies the greatest number of adolescent mothers, many of whom have been abandoned by their partners and have the sole responsibility to care for their children. Twenty-eight percent of women are illiterate. The infant mortality rate is 47 per 1000 births with less than one doctor per 10,000 people. Forty-three percent of infants are malnourished and respiratory infection is reported as the primary cause of sickness and death. Thirty-seven percent of children under the age of five have dysenteric diarrhea caused by deficient sanitation conditions and limited access to infant care. Poverty-related illness is a difficult cycle to break as it requires systematic change.
Peru, the fourth most populous country in South America, is bordered by Ecuador and Colombia, Bolivia, Chile, and the Pacific Ocean. With 29 million inhabitants, 76 percent live in urban areas. The largest city is Lima, home to more than 8 million people. The World Bank Group notes that Peru has a poverty rate of 51 percent, with 18 percent living on less than $1 a day and 37 percent living on less than $2 a day. UNICEF reports that the average annual income per capita is $2,360.
Peru has some of the most spectacular scenery in South America, a siren’s call to world-class mountaineers and trekkers alike. The Peruvian Andes are also home to millions of indigenous highlanders, who still speak the ancient tongue of Quechua and maintain a traditional way of life. More about Peru.
Cajamarca is where, in 1532, Atahualpa, the 13th and last emperor of the Inca, was resting with his 60,000 warriors at a nearby hot spring when the Spanish explorer Francisco Pizarro asked to meet with him. Atahualpa agreed to meet him in the main square, Plaza de Armas, of Cajamarca. Pizarro’s men, numbering only a couple of hundred, hid behind the doorways within the square. As soon as Atahualpa entered, the Spanish overwhelmed the Incan troops with cannon and horses, which the soldiers had never before seen. At the battle’s end, 7,000 Inca lay dead. Peru became a Spanish colony, and remained so until its liberation in 1824 by Simon Bolivar and Jose de San Martin.
Popular touring attractions in Cajamarca include:
- Inca Baths, thermo-medicinal hot springs where the Inca used to go after long trips
- Ventanillas de Otuzco (Otuzco Windows), a cemetery carved into a wall of volcanic rock
- Cumbemayo, a demonstration of pre-Incan hydraulic engineering still functioning today
- The old hacienda La Colpa, where the cattle go to be milked at the sound of their name
- Kuntur Wasi, a commercial center that dates to the year 1100 B.C. and its site museum with the numerous examples of the oldest objects of gold in the Americas
- The Porcan farm, an agricultural and cattle cooperative surrounded by a pine forest, ideal for spending a day out of the city, visiting its small zoo of vicu, deer, little spotted cats, monkeys, and eagles, buying its milk products, or simply enjoying the landscape