This article comes from Marina Sophia Flevotomas, a student and world traveler who is wrapping up several months of work in the Peruvian Andes.  The first email we received from Marina was to our general contact for the campaign.  Despite not knowing to whom she was speaking, she spoke deeply about the challenges of her work for social change and the different ideas she was sorting through and immediately felt to me like a fellow organizer.  I only got the opportunity to meet her once, but when she explained her work in the Andes I had two requests – 1. let us know what work people are doing there so that we can tell others. 2. tell people there that we want them to be part of the global day of work on 10/10/10.  Here is her response:

Commitment to Pachamama: Stories from the Andes

Deep in the Sacred Valley of the Incas live the indigenous communities of Peru.  They point to the once snow-covered mountains and express their concerns of the changing climate and the effects it has been having on their livelihoods. Towards the end of January 2010 the Sacred Valley experienced some of the most devastating floods, burying homes beneath the mud and displacing communities. The heavy rainfall has also ruined the region's primary food source, the potato.  As the indigenous share their story, they express their concerns, hopes, and commitments to Pachamama or Mother Earth.  Environmental preservation is intrinsic to Inca culture.

Before venturing off to South America, I met with 350 team member Jeremy Osborn in Sweden. I told him about my upcoming three month internship in the Sacred Valley of Peru. We spoke about the possibility of creating a 350 Day of Action here. However, I could not commit to this vision yet because I had never been to Peru, I did not know the people of the NGO I was to work with, and on top of that, did not know how much interest there would be for environmental action. I was such a fool.  In retrospect I can only shake my head in my lack of faith. There are people in each country, in each corner of this world, who deeply care about what is happening to Pachamama.

In the face of all the tremendous environmental challenges of our time it can be easy to get discouraged or lose hope. But then you meet all the passionate, motivated, and caring people who are pouring their energy into sustainable solutions and innovative ideas. Their dedication radiates through their actions, which moves us to be part of the solution. These are the people I have met here in Peru. These are their stories…

The Becky Fund (NGO)
A rainy and foggy Machu Picchu did not stop a handful of graduate students from showing their 350 support.  Working in the Sacred Valley, a diverse group of students from the Monterey Institute of International Studies (MIIS, California), California Polytechnic State University (CAL POLY, SLO, California) and the Network on Humanitarian Action (NOHA, Germany) are dedicating their time and knowledge in honor of Elizabeth (Becky) Prichard. Becky was known throughout the Sacred Valley of the Incas for her love and passion for aiding school children who continue to be the most vulnerable victims of the crippling poverty of the region.  Children exhibit delayed mental and physical development as well as lower resistance to infection. These are clear symptoms of malnutrition. To begin addressing this issue, The Becky Fund has expanded their focus to include nutrition as well as education.
This summer has been spent surveying indigenous communities in order to assess the health, nutrition and socio-economic levels.  Notably, it is difficult for the indigenous families to grow foods in altitudes of up to 4200 meters.  The Becky Fund is currently building greenhouses in collaboration with local primary schools in two communities.  These greenhouses will provide nutritious foods such as spinach, cabbage, and broccoli to the local indigenous communities as well as teach students alternative, organic agriculture techniques. This knowledge may be transferred to the fields, and thus, aid the communities at large. As an added value, the children will learn about the health benefits of the produce and how to maintain the greenhouse. To ensure sustainability of the projects, local Peruvians have been trained to monitor and evaluate the greenhouses. In an area where the indigenous communities depend on the land for their livelihood, sustainable solutions provide hope for a healthy future of the children.  In order to effectively continue its work with indigenous community and remain focused on sustainable solutions, The Becky Fund is preparing to expand its capacity and be a permanent presence by registering as a local non-profit organization in Peru.  
The Becky Fund has teamed up with DESEA Perú, a grassroots NGO run by Sandra McGirr and Sandy Hart who are dedicated to improving health and water quality for the indigenous communities.
Workshops for construction of biosand water filters are operated by trained local residents with the volunteer assistance of community members who are to receive filters. In this way, small-scale enterprises are established and families and schools contribute to their own water treatment systems. The community health program involves operation of weekly clinics in each community by Sandra, an expanded-practice nurse and by a Peruvian community nurse as well as the engagement of two trained community health workers in each community to assist with family education and community health needs; and on-going education for families, community groups, and schools in water filter operation, hygiene and sanitation practices, nutrition, and community health. 
Sandra and Sandy have contributed immensely to assisting the communities in positive and sustainable development.  They were present during the days of flooding in January, witnessing burdening realities that surely have them and their community convinced of the necessary changes that need to be made to reduce the impacts of climate change. 
Kusi Kawsay – Happy Life (School)
Sandra and Sandy's two children attend the Kusi Kawsay School in a colourful little town named Pisac.  Kusi Kawsay means “happy life” in the Quechua language. Happy life is rooted in the Andean heritage and supports a way of life which promotes empowerment of ecologically and environmentally friendly consciousness. 
The symbol of the school is the hummingbird. The hummingbird – tiny and fragile, yet strong – is able to travel great distances to achieve its goals and unite worlds. The hummingbird can be still while active, beating its wings while staying calmly in one place. This Waldorf inspired school has made it their priority to teach local Andean traditions.  The children of the Kusi Kawsay School are fortunate to have passionate teachers.  The driving force behind the School are co-founders Roman Vizcarra and Fielding Wood de Vizcarra who are actively involved in student life activities while simultaneously expanding this alternative approach to education.  Roman and Fielding, two exceptionally strong and unique individuals, are currently rebuilding their home which was destroyed during the devastating January floods.  The strength to rebuild is the same strength which sustains them to shine for their family and community. This incredible energy is evident in their school as well.  
All in all…
The power of collective knowledge is exponential and crucial when creating change. I sure was not always the way I am today. Looking back I realize that there were several people who did not give up on expressing the urgency of this issue. They did not stop living through their actions and spread positive hope throughout their community. I was lucky enough to be invited along the journey.
The Becky Fund’s students have been working hard to improve the health and nutrition of the indigenous communities. DESEA works towards water quality improvement and health. Kusi Kawsay does an incredible job educating the children about living parallel with the land and respecting our Earth. The people that I have met along this trip have poured a lot of hope into me. The indigenous communities that will be participating in the Day of Action are highly motivated to address climate change. They are ready to get to work. With their big smiles and even bigger hearts they are creating something special for 10/10/10.

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