Kusi Kawsay was built in the traditional Andean way of undertaking monumental challenges through communal effort. It is the underpinning of traditional Andean life, which is the bedrock of the Kusi Kawsay School. Starting in August 2009 with little money but an abundance of conviction, enthusiasm and commitment, parents and community members manually moved boulders and built classroom walls using traditional methods, installed environmentally friendly water and compost systems, and constructed impressive terraces with sweeping stone stairways.
Beyond the “sweat equity” in constructing the school, parents of Kusi Kawsay students are involved in all aspects of supporting Kusi Kawsay – as board members, as teachers of specialized workshops on traditional Andean arts and Andean philosophy and traditions, as well as foreign languages, as active participants in their children’s learning and making decisions about the school’s direction.
Kusi Kawsay would not exist but for the sheer will, determination and self-initiation of local parents – turning their desire for social justice into a reality not only for their own children but their community and beyond. By demonstrating the ability to shape their own future, the parents of Kusi Kawsay are modeling a path for other communities around Pisac, in Peru and around the world to be healthy and resilient.
Nestled at the base of a majestic Andean mountain and Incan terraces, a small nonprofit school known as Kusi Kawsay (Happy Life in Quechua language) overlooks Pisac, Peru in the Sacred Valley of the Incas. What was once an unused, rocky hillside has now been transformed into an education and cultural center of activity for 100 children from Kindergarten to 11th grade, their parents and the broader community. Founded by a small group of local parents, Kusi Kawsay is an educational alternative that is preparing the next generation of indigenous children to be empowered advocates for a happy and meaningful life both locally and globally. With its unique curriculum that offers a full academic program combining a rich body of ancestral Andean knowledge, philosophy and traditions with tested Waldorf Pedagogy and principles, Kusi Kawsay’s mission is to foster personal and cultural self-esteem based on respect, reciprocity and dignity while providing its students with the skills to navigate both modern and traditional worlds.
Kusi Kawsay’s goal is to offer and promote an alternative, quality education model that nurtures, develops and empowers future leaders for a balanced world. Through honoring the value of happiness and wellbeing, Kusi Kawsay aims to be not only an educational program but also a strategy for broad cultural revival and social change to ensure the rights of indigenous people.