Location: Quelqanqa, Peru
With an early, 6 AM start, we ate breakfast, got on the bus, and drove 3 hours to a small community called Quelqanqa located 15,000ft above sea level.
The community of Quelqanqa is so special. Tucked away deep in the sacred valley of the Peruvian Andes, this school is very remote and no one visits them, no tourists, no hikers even. We may have been the only foreigners this community sees for years and years.
Not only was the drive long, but also stressful, because as we got higher and further into the mountains, the roads got narrower and the turns got tighter. The bus tilted to the side multiple times and Lia, along with multiple others, screeched out of fear.
After making it safely to Quelqanqa, despite the cold and the winds, we immediately got to work. A first group which consisted of Gillian, Sameep and myself headed over to the kitchen to make cheese sandwiches. Sam sliced the bread, Gillian sliced the cheese and I put the two together. While doing this our mentor from MySmallHelp, Alesia, allowed us to try some cacao, which was extremely good although a bit bitter. After finishing the sandwiches, we filed out of the kitchen to go help with other jobs such as arts and crafts with the kids and gardening. Entering the arts and crafts room, we saw there was lots of painting going on. Many of the children were working on a type of finger painting where they paint the entire wooden board with paint first, then utilize their fingers to draw shapes and scenery on top. On one side of the room McKayla was surrounded by a group of children and while she showed them how to build a model plane. Soon after finishing the model, they ran outside to see it fly. On the other side of the room, McKinley was also surrounded by a mob of children. They seemed to have decided that the best type of finger painting was on her face.
We made time to eat together. Oatmeal with raw cacao, cinnamon and soymilk was delicious. There also was cheese bread, fresh potatoes from the organic ground and fresh cheese and onion relish to put on top.
The best thing was their clothing and style. We were all so taken aback by their customary dress code. The people of this community make all of their own clothes by hand. They don’t work for money. They barter to make sure they have enough resources to survive.
All in all, it was a great day. We were able to communicate and share experiences with a community far different from our own and we loved it. This is sacred valley service. 🙂