This is a copy of the SVP newsletter in case you haven't subscribed yet.
Dear friends of SVP,
We would like to thank you all for the many concerned and encouraging letters that we have received in response to our last newsletter and in regards to the land dispute in which we have found ourselves entwined. We would like to apologize for the delay in communication recently and we hope that this update can answer any questions you have had over the past month. Since our last newsletter, the SVP has been working to determine the best method to secure our future while continuing to devote ourselves to the girls and their education.
In the past four weeks we have received a number of new volunteers and we continue to benefit from the efforts and hard work of individuals from around the world. The general feel of the dorm these days is pleasant and has a lot of energy. Our professional and organized staff is leading the girls with more direction and fervor than ever. Overall the student’s academics show many signs of improvement, yet we still have a long way to go to achieve the educational goals set out by the board and the project director. Immediate goals for this year are to provide some culturally relevant team building excursions for the girls in order to create a stronger camaraderie among them, start a reading program after dinner to get the girls excited and interested in literature and also to provide a structure that will allow time for the girls to reflect on their day, their goals and values.
With regard to the lawsuit involving our land, we decided that given the powers that we are up against and the realities of working in Peru, an outright legal battle is not the best approach. Instead we decided to accept what has happened and work to ensure a stable future for the dormitory with minimal disruption to the students and their studies.
Our first step was to call a general meeting with all the families to inform them of the news and to discuss the best course of action. Before the meeting, we decided that it would be best to address our future in two parts, the immediate and the long-term.
The immediate plan is to ensure that the students have a place to live during the remainder of the school year while searching for a more permanent locale to be used in the future. To determine how to achieve this goal, we have been in contact with the community president, the local police department and several lawyers. We explained the situation and asked for their council and support. All parties ensured us that we would not be kicked out of the dormitory for at least another year. This relieved a little pressure and allowed us to start to think about the long-term.
In regards to long-term plans, the parents of the students proposed that we appeal to the provincial government for support. It took a few weeks to coordinate a meeting with the Mayor, but once we did, the news was encouraging. Benicio Rios Ocsa, a popular second-term Mayor of the province of Urubamba, understands the difficulties that come with living in underserved rural communities and believes in our project. He proposed a solution and offered to help us get a plot of land in Pachar, his home community. Pachar is located on the road between Ollantaytambo (where the dormitory is currently located) and Urubamba (the larger city where some of our girls study). With a dormitory built in this central location we will be able to expand and help girls from rural communities throughout the province.
Benicio hopes to build a high school in Pachar with which the dormitory will work directly. In the mean time, the girls will be able to travel to their current high schools by taking a 15 minute bus ride that costs about 15 cents each way.
The acquisition of the land will come in two stages. The first stage, which is currently in progress, is an official agreement signed by the Mayor, all his cabinet members, the president and board of directors of the community of Pachar, and the representatives of the SVP. The second stage entails signing another contract that will ensure that the SVP can control the land and will be signed only after we are able to acquire the funds necessary to build the new dormitory. To build this new dormitory, we need to raise $15,000.
We look forward to updating you in the coming weeks with the progression of the status of our current location, and welcome any feedback and/or suggestions you may have for the Sacred Valley Project at any time.