Martin Quispe Paucar and his wife Felipa have four beautiful children: Joel, Yefre, Yanit, and Herlinda. The family belongs to the Q’eros Nation of Peru, an indigenous Quechua group known as the last living descendants of the Incas.
They live a humble life, one of hard work dedicated to breeding of alpacas, growing potatoes, producing moraya and chuño (a dehydrated potato product traditionally made by Quechua communities), and raising some smaller animals such as chickens and cuy (guinea pigs).
Life is Harsh in the Peruvian Andes
The Q’eros are survivors of arguably some of the harshest living conditions in the world. At 14,200 feet in elevation deep in the Peruvian Andes, winters are bone-chilling, and the ground is so hard that it’s often unfertile.
Frigid mountain streams are the only water supply for the area, leaving the locals to face increased illness from the inside out – vitamin deficient diets and exposure to the elements.
A year ago, this was the reality for Martin and his family.
“We could not wash because the water was very cold. Our children constantly suffered from the flu and deep coughs. Cold water and dry air left our hands cracked and bleeding,” reflected Felipa.
Warmth, Health & Hope Reaches Q’eros Nation
In 2017, through partnership with the Ministry of Culture, Advance began work to improve the health, lifespan, and preservation of culture of the Q’eros people.
Since then, we have implemented programming to de-worm infants and children, provide oral health education, and build greenhouses and solar-powered showers, stoves, and latrines. Martins’ family was a recipient of one such build, and the transformation is plain to see.
“We thank Advance for helping us with our greenhouse, where we plant vegetables to complement our food. We have learned to eat these types of vegetables that we did not consume before, to be healthy and to give our children a better diet.”
The family now prepares a variety of vegetables in soups, salads and tortillas. With easy access to warm water, they are rarely ill and can focus on preventative hygiene.
“We wash our clothes and our dishes with the water from the hot spring and our hands no longer burst so much. We also have a little stove that warms us inside our house. There we cook our food and get together with all our children to warm up and protect ourselves from the cold.”
10-year-old Yanit tells us, “I am very happy because I can brush my teeth with hot water!”
The entire family is grateful for all the support provided by Advance and hopes that they will continue to support all the families in the community.