As MOCHE tried to preserve the most threatened cultural heritage sites in the Moche Valley from looters, squatters and miners, we continued to run into lack of buy-in from local community members. We realized that the only way to preserve the cultural heritage of the area was to create a mutually beneficial partnerships with these adjoining communities. We started with the community of Ciudad de Dios. Ciudad agreed to protect and preserve the nearby archaeological sites and, in turn, we would provide expertise, funding, volunteers and organization to work on a development projects of their choosing. Over the past 10 years MOCHE has worked with Ciudad and the surrounding communities to construct or improve fresh water collection systems, VIP latrine and sanitation programs, schools, medical clinics, roads and community centers. We have helped to organize a women’s artisans co-op that produces products that feature prehistoric iconography and culturally significant images from the area, and we have run yearly health fairs that provide free health services to local peoples.
Over the past few years, word about our model has spread and we are now growing to work with new communities who have approached us, interested in starting a relationship. We now have worked in more than 10 communities in the valley and we are working on creating an equal number of community heritage preservations.
Our model focuses on community-initiated and community-lead projects. We believe, that everything from development to cultural preservation, that community buy-in is the single most important aspect of a successful project. When communities vote on project ideas they are empowered to select the development goals that are most important to them. From there, we hire local experts and professionals and bring in US and Peruvian graduate students to lead our initiatives. We then partner with organizations such as Nourish International and A Drink for Tomorrow to organize dedicated college students who raise money and provide volunteer hours to help fund and facilitate the projects.
We view our student volunteers as a vital part of our organization. They provide much of the funding and innovative ideas to make our initiatives reality. We find ourselves lucky to assist in an intercultural exchange that provides a valuable learning experience while facilitating an opportunity for personal growth, language skill development and leadership maturation to all involved.
Please review the current volunteer programs in the dropdown menu on the left. Many of the programs are partnerships with student organization, but all programs are open to any volunteer. Please contact us if you have further questions or concerns contact Alicia Boswell.
Additionally, we are in the process of developing service-learning programs that would offer University credit to volunteers as part of an academic course. These courses would be lead by faculty, utilize available literature and focus on practical application of varying social science, public health, education and nursing services. These programs are not yet available, but please inquire or check back soon for more details.