On a recent trip to Cusco, I had the privilege of accompanying Ian McGroarty and his assistant Octavio on his visits to two of the Alma Foundation projects. We visited the Colcha and the Cochirhuay communities and Ian spoke with the teachers and students about the projects for this year. It was very evident by the reaction of both the teachers and students that these communities value the Alma Foundation’s contributions to their children’s education. We also stopped in another small town to speak with the mother of one of the students in the ‘Alma Alumni’ project.
What struck me was how isolated these communities are. They are located in the middle of the mountains. While many of these remote communities have elementary schools, high school students are expected to walk great distances to get to their schools. It is not uncommon that both elementary and older children walk one to two hours every day to and from school. They have minimal resources and the addit ional programming that Alma provides is essential to their educational well-being.
I was also impressed with the relationship that Ian has obviously developed with the teachers, students and parents. He has learned Quechua, one of the indigenous languages of Peru, which is spoken by the children and parents. With this kind of committed leadership, the Alma Foundation projects will go a long way in improving the education of children in Peru and Bolivia.