Mosqoy is the word “dream” in Quechua. In Peru, most Indigenous youth dream of becoming professionals. To them, this means gaining a higher- or further-education degree, become professionals, and gaining a steady salary. Some will go so far as to say “Quiero ser mejor que mis padres” -- I want to be better than my parents.
Peru is ranked as one of the most unequal countries in Latin America, with twenty percent of the population earning nearly half the country’s income (Amarante et al., 2016). Such inequality did not arise overnight. Indigenous Peruvians have been subjected to ongoing colonization since the arrival of the Spanish in the 16th century, and as recently as the 1950s lived under a semi-feudal system. Even with land reforms that took place in the 1960s, discrimination remains rampant. When traveling to the city, individuals from Indigenous communities will be criticized for their clothing, their appearance, and how they speak. Whilst writing this blog, Peru has already been mired in political conflict for several weeks. Peru’s democracy has always been fragile, but in light of the impeachment of Indigenous backed president Pedro Castillo, many Indigenous groups are now demanding new elections and a new constitution that would prevent Peru’s elite from continuing to hoard the country’s wealth. Currently, approximately 50 people have been killed in the protests – mostly Indigenous people and farmers. Peru’s new president, Dina Boluarte, and her government are under investigation for human rights abuses.
Education in Peru was initially designed as a means of assimilation. During the 19th century, Peru emerged from the devastating Pacific War with Chile and sought to form a new national identity. This was meant to encompass the large Indigenous population but only once they had abandoned their customs and language. In government officials’ own words, education remained the “quickest means of Hispanifying the aboriginal” (Aikman, 1999, p. 33). Education was meant to facilitate this transition, primarily by instructing Indigenous peoples in the national language, Spanish.
Mosqoy was founded with the objective of helping Quechua youth attain their dreams of becoming professionals but in a way that is different from traditional education systems. Instead of positioning the choice as “maintain your cultural ties or pursue a better quality of life,” Mosqoy aims to equip youth with the skills to exist within a globalized society without being overwhelmed by it. Through a rigorous selection process, Mosqoy selects promising youth from Quechua communities — individuals who want to receive higher- and further-education to support their families and communities. Students select degrees available at local institutes and universities, everything from gastronomy to environmental engineering, and Mosqoy covers the costs during their entire course of study. We also provide safe housing, tutoring, and workshops. Many of our workshops are geared towards strengthening students’ cultural identities and feeling comfortable using their native tongue, Quechua, in the city.
With EdJAM’s support, we have been able to provide human rights and photography workshops to our students. They have learned their own basic rights and those of their communities, as well as the basic steps to defend those rights. As they learn the technical skills required to point and shoot, they have also been learning the value of photography to tell a story, documenting what is important to them and their communities. Soon, we will be offering workshops in natural dyeing methods, Andean music and dance, traditional medicine, visual arts, and more. Each student will be working on a final project, using any artistic medium, to serve as a self-portrait representing their identity. Through Mosqoy’s work with EdJAM, we intend to accomplish the following
- Strengthen existing human rights workshops for scholarship students, equipping them with the knowledge necessary to defend their rights and those of their communities;
- Provide creative outlets for students to explore and challenge inequalities that exist within their societies; and
- Equip more Indigenous youth leaders with the skills to forge a future for their communities that is economically and culturally resilient.
At the end of 2023, we look forward to showcasing our students’ creations publicly in Cusco, showing the general public that Peru – and the world – are much richer when we all are allowed to fully participate in society without having to compromise our identities.
Aikman, S. (1999). Intercultural education and literacy: An ethnographic study of indigenous knowledge and learning in the Peruvian amazon. ProQuest Ebook Central https://ezproxy.upeace.org:2163
Amarante, V., Galvan, M., and Mancero, X. (2016, April). Inequality in Latin America: A global measurement. Cepal Review, 118, 26-44. Retrieved from https://repositorio.cepal.org/bitstream/handle/11362/40423/1/RVI118_Amarante.pdf
Blog written by Stephanie Septembre, Youth Programme Manager, T’ikary: An educational project for Quechua youth, Peru