Children in desert area are not deserted
Arid Moquegua is one of Peruvian departments with the greatest concentration of indigenous people with Aimara as mother tongue. Conquered by Incas and then by Spanish invaders they lost a part of their cultural heritage, nevertheless, this native language persisted. Surprisingly, nowadays speaking Aimara is not the matter of pride. Actually, it is on the contrary, being rather a source for mockery. At least at schools, so that its use is more reduced to households. Another Save the Children project is aimed at this environment, focusing on children attending secondary schools. With such objective as adequate access to quality secondary education the project is carried out in Moquegua regions where geographical, cultural and economic barriers exist, characteristics quite evident in Mariscal Nieto province. Even though the substantial investments in educational facilities made by mining company operating in Cuajone, among the biggest copper mines in the world. One of such remote places is village Titire, situated in “altiplano” (high mountain plateau) at over 4300 meters above the sea level, 3 hours drive from Moquegua. Although people that live in this place seem to be accustomed to harsh living conditions, due to poor economy, majority of young persons think about moving to a bigger city to look for better educational and work opportunities. Most common occupations in the village nowadays are grazing and knitting, and many children help their parents after or before school in farms e.g. raising alpacas and lamas. At this altitude temperatures are inherently low and buildings are not equipped with heating systems. Electricity cuts are often, occurring mainly when there are storms with lightning strikes. Despite those set-backs children seem to be quite happy going to school and significant part of them live nearby, so that they can go home for a dinner during classes break. Recently the problem with electricity is over, and the main shortages at school are lack of printer and Internet, although teachers have laptops and rooms are equipped with interactive digital screens. Actually, there is no mobile signal neither, so that we had to use satelite phone to communicate with Save the Children office. A week ago two workshops were organized in secondary school in Titire as part of the project. Children participated very openly and with a lot of enthusiasm discussing in groups about primordial priorities in fictionally created communities. Such active participation is not so common thing in Peruvian schools in more distant regions, where young ones are more reserved, especially in front of foreign visitors. This gives very promising perspectives for the project development.