Tourism in Peru is the third-largest sector of the economy, bringing in $3.3 billion annually and growing rapidly each year. However, in the Andean region, this inflow too often ends up in the hands of outsiders or a government that local communities describe as corrupt and neglectful. As younger generations try to join this economic boom, they are turning away from traditional textile weaving in order to sell mass-produced items. This weaving tradition, often the only form of written history in Quechua culture, is at risk of disappearing.
Even more crippling is that because the youth are the first to experience this boom, their efforts to join it often fall short. They do not have leaders who can provide training in new job sectors or the funds needed to earn a post-secondary education. Therefore, outsiders easily take jobs from locals, leaving many unemployed and poorer than before tourism and development entered their communities. On average, only 4% of Quechua youth will continue their studies at a technical institute or university, compared with a national average of 43%. The number of professionals in the community is therefore rapidly decreasing.
Many community members feel that they must choose between preserving their culture or developing economically–that they cannot have both.
Our goal is to reverse this vicious cycle of poverty and cultural loss into a breakthrough cycle of resistance and revitalization.