Education is key for a better future; mountains and the great outdoors more generally provide one of the most incredible classrooms. They inspire us at every turn and encourage a sense of adventure and discovery. Our expeditions provide traditional education and lifelong learning opportunities for local residents, which drives positive community change and especially supports children and teenagers at a critical time in their lives.
Project Cordillera sees development through education as one of the biggest opportunities to make a difference. Building community capacity through traditional and outdoor education facilitates genuine connections and networks within likeminded communities. Education is key to community-led development because it can lead to inspiring positive social, environmental and economic change. In line with our purpose, education teaches current and future generations to know, enjoy and respect the mountains.
Introducing the Guías Locales Program
The Guías Locales – or Local Guides – are a group of young people from the Quechua communities of Rivas, Cachipampa and Yurac Yacu in the foothills of the Cordillera Blanca. The Guías work from their office at the Yurac Yacu Community Centre at about 3,700m. From the office, they offer travellers unique interpretive walks in the local area, using the knowledge acquired from growing up locally and from the 10-week Guías Locales course that has now successfully run over two years.
At the end of 2014, the Guías office was completed at the community centre; 2015 was the first year that travellers were able to hire Guías who had completed their training. The Guías receive around 50 Soles ($15) per tour, which is a considerable sum for a young person in Peru, and this, as well as the opportunity to interact with interested foreigners, provides an incentive for the teenagers to complete the course. The course is challenging, and only six of the 18 participants this year completed the program and passed the test. Passing this test proves to be a badge of pride for those who make it to the end and become accredited as a Guía Local. The office also benefits the wider community as an information sharing point and as a meeting spot for those interested in utilizing sustainable travel as a driver for local employment, income, education, collaboration and development more generally.
Project Cordillera supports the Guías Locales as part of its commitment to education for development. The Guías Locales program inspires youth from the local area to take pride in local culture, and gives young local the opportunity to learn through exploration. Now that the program has been set up and sustained, the next steps are to increase the numbers of travellers coming to use the services, and attempt to involve more professional guides from Huaraz in the curriculum, as well as maintaining and consolidating the skills that the Guías have acquired.
It is important to note that even with a strong theoretical foundation, we wish to respect local ways of being by adopting a non-interventionist and culturally sensitive partnership model that includes the local values as part of the overall pathway to change.