Partner Profile: Amantani UK
26 May 2011
The PSG recently teamed up with Amantani UK, a charity with educational projects in Peru, to enter volunteers into a fundraising marathon / half-marathon this summer. In this guest article Fred Branson, the founder of Amantani UK, explores the concept of ‘ayni’ and its connotations for development work in Peru and beyond.
With ‘ayni’ you don't receive without giving in return, nor give without receiving in return. In Andean communities, when nature displays the right signs, an incredible process begins to unfold. The community congregates in order to harvest the rewards of their labour. Together, they move from land to land, harvesting each other’s crop, and in turn, their own. In much the same way, when a young couple leaves their respective parents’ homes, the whole community will come together to build the new family a house, all in a single day. These scenes of co-operation and mutual aid are just two examples of how the Andean principle of ‘ayni’ manifests itself.
Everywhere, indigenous cultures are being introduced to modernity; as part of this process their own way of life is necessarily altered. All too often, people working within this foreign context fail to recognise their own role in this process. Unfortunately, some overseas aid organizations create a one-way relationship with their beneficiaries. This can actually lower the self-esteem of the people they are trying to help.
The meeting of these two cultures doesn’t always have to be on these terms. Amantani UK’s aim is to bring a sense of ‘ayni’ to these cross-cultural relationships. Along with our Peruvian counterpart we work to help address the educational needs of young people in rural Peru, where schooling facilities are still somewhat limited. The vast majority of those we have helped originate from indigenous communities in the mountains or jungle surrounding Cusco. Whilst providing material resources and lessons from our own culture to economically less wealthy regions, we also aim to create spaces in which Peruvians can offer something back in the form of cultural teachings, which bear much relevance for the ‘west’ today. This ‘ayni’ is a fundamental part of our work to improve the self-esteem of the Quechua children with which we work.
How do we do this?
In 2014 we plan to construct an eco-lodge, which will be a platform for cross-cultural exchange. As people come to stay and support the 64 children in our intercultural boarding schools in Ccorca (1 hour from Cusco), the focus will not be on what they can teach the local people but what they can learn.
In the second initiative the children in our projects will make a monthly video, in which they teach people here in the UK local techniques and customs. Before the end of 2012 our aim is to be able to tell the children in our projects that over 300 people are learning from them.
This concept of reciprocal philanthropy is central to all our activities and is one which, we believe, should govern the next stage of project work in developing countries.
For more information on how to enter the marathon / half-marathon and raise funds for the PSG and Amantani please click here.