The Start of the MOCHE Model
Nearly a decade ago, Brian Billman and Jesus Briceño began a long-term archaeological project in the Moche Valley. After the first season, they faced the same problems every project faces in Peru: looting of archaeological sites and rural poverty. Typically, archaeologists will hire one or two people to protect an archaeological site during the off-season, a strategy that usually is not very successful. In 1998, they embarked on a different path, hiring the entire village of Ciudad de Dios to protect their archaeological site by offering to fund $1200 worth of development projects each year the site remains untouched. At that time, Ciudad de Dios still had not been recognized by the local government and lacked even the most basic services.
Since that program began, we are proud to say that looting has effectively stopped at Ciudad de Dios and MOCHE, Inc. was incorporated in 2007 as a way to fund, organize and support the new model of preservation. We have constructed a school/community meeting space, a road, a water system, we have implemented a VIP latrine construction program and we have helped to start a Women’s Co-op.
Once we proved the concept in Ciudad, we wanted to spread the model. We moved to their larger neighbor communities of Bello Horizonte and Cerro Blanco and worked on water system improvements and constructed the first phase of a regional health clinic.
Now and to the Future
Now that the model is spreading and people are aware of MOCHE, communities are approaching us. We are now working in many other communities including Las Cocas and Jesus Maria.
Though each community is different, their wants and needs vary and the expertise required to help us complete the projects is vast, there is one constant: the hard work, dedication and hope of the rural people of Peru. We will continue to strive to work with communities, to educate students and locals about the rich cultural heritage of Peru, and help to provide infrastructure and development programs that the community members identify as necessary.