Over 20 volunteers have given up vacation time in the last couple months to work on a unique home renovation project in Rumira Sondormayo, high above the Sacred Valley! The project was designed to connect foreign visitors with local indigenous families who want to host visitors in homestays.
Homestay: noun; a holiday or other period abroad spent staying in the home of a local family … the dictionary definition of the word homestay, but my word, there is so much more to it!
Aristotle once said, ‘the whole is greater than the sum of its parts’. In this case a homestay, it can be safely said, is a great example of this.
This sustainable and empowering local community project set high in the rural Andes is an initiative of the Peruvian NGO Threads of Peru, http://www.threadsofperu.com. Threads of Peru works to alleviate poverty and revitalize cultural traditions in rural indigenous communities. Their principal work is to connect the world to handmade Peruvian textiles; helping to preserve ancient craft techniques and empower indigenous artisans.
Many families in rural highland communities are interested in developing homestays in order to host foreign visitors. This is an excellent project for these families, as it allows them to earn income without having to alter their traditional lifestyle, or leave their homelands.
Therefore, when the women of Rumira Sondormayo asked for Threads of Peru’s assistance in creating a Homestay project, they saw how the idea had great potential to help local families, but also empower them to showcase their culture. When the coordinators of the Wholefoods Market Team Volunteer Program Trips contacted Apus Peru, they were able to connect them to the project in Rumira Sondormayo.
In 2012 the first Volunteer WFM team landed in Peru. Armed with enthusiasm, an eagerness to contribute in a meaningful way to a rural indigenous community, while learning about traditional lifestyles in the Peruvian Andes, the work began.
During a hardworking, fun and culturally educational three days, the team completed specific objectives to physically improve two local houses to ready them for travellers who want to experience local culture, get off the beaten track, and really connect with Quechua families.
In 2013 Whole Foods Market Team Members had volunteers in such numbers that two teams came to carry on the great work done in the first visit and increase bed capacity. Apus Peru had identified four more houses in Rumira Sondormayo, home of the Puka Turpay Weaving Association (alt. 4000m).
With the same desire to serve as their predecessors the 2013 teams set to work. The same effort and quality of work was just as evident. This was no easy task, work included construction, cleaning, sanding, painting, installation of windows, and decoration, among other things! Both houses were completed, the project a resounding success once again. The volunteer teams had received a unique opportunity to catch a glimpse of and positively impact upon rural indigenous life, while the community received the opportunity to develop a sustainable project of benefit to the whole village.