Historically, Indigenous people have been denied formal education. It was not until the 1950s that education was officially legalized as a public school system. However, the system does not respect local cultural values. It has also triggered an exodus to towns and cities; affecting community and family dynamics. When children and youth migrate, they often find an education that denigrates their heritage, and relays the message that to be successful one must be a ‘professional,’ which implies never returning to their community. Furthermore, knowledge through higher education is rarely put into practice in the traditional communities.
More than 20 years ago the 5 founding families of the Kusi Kawsay Association, inspired by the values and traditions of the Andean culture, began with small grassroots initiatives within communities to start local Ñawpa Ñan (Ancient Path) cultural centers and organize educational workshops aimed at reinvigorating, promoting, protecting and celebrating the Andean Culture.
As these initiatives grew, Pachamama’s Path was formed to help sustain this work. This work is one way to empower the endangered traditional way of life, while inspiring others to do the same. When they realized that education was the most effective way to create change, they began to work within the public school system with a Waldorf teacher and specialist. Waldorf pedagogy shares a similar approach to life as Indigenous Cosmo Vision encompassing ideals of peace, solidarity and reciprocity.
The vision was realized with an independent school for local children with no economic means. “Kusi Kawsay” (Happy Life in Quechua) Andean School was born in 2010. Kusi Kawsay is now an accredited primary and secondary school with an attendance of more than 100 children.
Pisac, Peru in the Sacred Valley of the Incas. We are located at the base of the Pisac archaeological site.
In 2012, the first graduating class of Kusi Kawsay faced a challenge. The reality of limited options, discrimination and lack of financial resources determines the fate of many young people. The graduates were motivated to revitalize and reclaim their culture by contributing to their community as agents of change. “Kusi Ñan” (Happy Path in Quechua), was created. The Kusi Ñan project of organic agriculture became a source of employment for the alumni and provided a creative solution.
Mission & Vision
To honor, cultivate and celebrate the ancient wisdom of Andean Indigenous communities through education, agriculture and cultural activities rooted in reciprocity, respect, love and social justice.
To serve as a model which encourages global awareness that respects cultural and ecological diversity, honoring the wisdom of Indigenous traditions and cultivating unity of human beings within a framework of reciprocity, respect and social justice
Our Guiding Principle
Reciprocity, or Ayni, the Andean mandate of giving and receiving in all aspects of life, plays a significant role in Kusi Kawsay’s approach. The revival of ancestral cultural practices and rituals by students and their families is creating a ‘living legacy’ for the community. This work has sustained the community’s ties to its rich Andean roots.
Respect, Love and Reciprocity are the three main pillars of all the world we realize through our projects.
The Andean Legacy (Good Living in Quechua is Sumak Kawsay) Program is the gathering, celebrations and events that take place in various parts of Peru. It was instituted to honor the communities’ traditional culture while providing the platform to advocate for their rights and self-direction of land and resources. The initiative seeks to protect and conserve the Andean cultural identity and the resources/sacred land of the Apus that are vital to the cultural survival.
The Andean Legacy initiative is part of the foundation of the Kusi Kawsay Association and involves transformational learning through formal and informal educational opportunities: music, dance, art, weaving, and practicing environmental consciousness. Students are in direct connection with the arts that gave birth to their culture, with the land that they care for and nurture, while receiving intricate weaving skills that produce beautiful textiles.
Our long-term goal is to empower and equip a new generation of young Indigenous Andean children and youth with the social-emotional and cultural tools and respect for the land that will allow them to sustain their Andean cultural identity and continue to pass these beautiful traditions along to future generations while providing sustainable livelihoods.