World Vision Peru staff explaining to Ross and Gina Miller the importance of the permaculture project.
My first journey to Peru was in 1970 and had a huge impact on my understanding of life in a developing country. Prior to my trip I had lived and worked in Australia and Canada as an artist and teacher. Compared to these two countries, Peru is a very different place culturally and visually.
As a 28 year old I particularly admired the simplicity and picturesque charm of the small, rural farming villages and towns in the Altiplano (high plains). Many of the inhabitants of this region are farmers or agricultural labourers: shepherds of llama, alpaca and sheep, breeders of guinea pigs, and growers of potatoes and corn. Growing up on a dairy farm just north of Melbourne, I have some knowledge and an appreciation of farming.
Over time I came to realize that most of these Incan descendants lived a very hard and difficult life, often deprived of educational opportunities, nutritious food, and medical services.
Nearly 30 years later I had the opportunity to return to Peru which reignited my passion for the country and its people, especially the cities of Arequipa, Cusco, Puno and the Altiplano.
Soon after our return to Australia, my wife Gina and I decided to sponsor a child in Peru through World Vision. Our sponsored child Analy and her family live in the Cusco region, an agricultural area 3,850 metres above sea level.
We made an application to visit Analy on our next visit to Peru. It is important to respect World Vision’s protocol when visiting one’s sponsored child. It would be difficult to locate her in this remote area. Her community are essentially Qechuan speakers and Spanish is their second language. A World Vision Peru staff member drove us from Cusco to the project centre, where the team leaders explained the project’s aims and the progress being made in the community.
Analy and her mother visited us at the project centre. We gave her some small gifts; clothing, colouring pencils and paint. From her letters we knew she liked to draw and paint pictures. We purchased large bags of rice and other food supplies for her family.
Meeting Analy and her mother was an emotional experience for us all. Seeing the community they live in first-hand helped us understand the support they need and how vital the work of World Vision is in such communities. When you sponsor a child, you are also affecting change for that child’s family and the entire community.
World Vision’s area development project in Analy’s community aims to improve educational opportunities and outcomes, access to healthcare as well as improving nutrition with access to fresh produce.
Typically rural families live in an adobe (mud brick) home about the size of a small Australian bedroom, with a tile or thatched roof made of Ichu grass. Every member of the family lives and sleeps in this room, which could be 5 to 10 people. Cooking to prepare a meal is done on a traditional small ceramic stove that is not connected to a chimney or flue. The house is filled with smoke and fumes from the animal dung or the expensive wood such stoves inefficiently burn. During the cold winters the fires burn most of the day, generating a lot of smoke and little heat. This results in eye infections and respiratory problems for many in the family.
I was happy to find out that World Vision has a project to replace many of these traditional cook stoves, aiming to provide 9,000 rural households in Ancash and Ayacucho with efficient, clean burning stoves. I know how much of a difference this will make for families like Analy’s and decided I wanted to get more involved and support this project.
I have created a collection of sculptures called ‘Apacheta’ that are motivated by my journeys to Peru. ‘Apacheta,’ a Quechan word, is basically a pile of stones. The Inca built them to mark sacred sites, identify trails, and pay homage to the earth goddess Pachamama. The visual stimulation of natural phenomena, man-made structures, archaeological sites and people of Peru have inspired these works.
These sculptures are for sale and will be exhibited at a Pop-Up Art show in Brunswick, VIC on Friday 3 June. I will be donating net profits to World Vision’s cook stove project in Peru, and for every $100 raised, World Vision Australia will provide one cook stove. Sculptures will be available in a range of prices, and every purchase will provide at least one stove. Hope to see you at the exhibit !
When: 3 June 2016, 6 – 10pm (opening speeches at 7pm)
Where: Wick Studios, 23-25 Leslie Street, Brunswick, Victoria, 3056
For more information please visit: worldvision.com.au/apacheta