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  • Why Aren't These Children in School?

    These Andean children are looking through a window into their schoolhouse. I'm inside; they are not. Seems like it should be the other way around, but this particular day is not a school day. It is an extremely rainy day. Just a few miles from here, the trail ascends to a 15,000 foot pass where it's snowing fiercely. Our guide doesn't want us to cross in those conditions. He negotiated with the small village to let our group of adventure travelers use the one-room schoolhouse until the weather breaks. For the children, this is a novelty.

    I saw a lot of children while hiking in the Peruvian Andes. Most of them were also hiking, but they were hiking to school. Some people live within the bounds of a small village, but many families are isolated, quite distant from the school. The children I saw seemed to enjoy hiking several miles—big wide smiles on their faces. But perhaps they were smiling because I and my companions were an odd-looking group of tall people with hiking sticks, funny hats, and big boots.

    Peru education attendance:

    • Ages 6 - 11: 92% ages 6-11
    • Ages 12-16: 66%
    • Literacy--96% in urban areas, 80% in rural areas.

    What about water? See Peru: Water Isn't for Everyone. A few excerpts . . .

    "Water is not only in short supply in Peru, but it is also poorly distributed in relation to the population. Seventy percent of the people live in the arid strip along the Pacific Ocean, where just 1.8 percent of the country's freshwater supply is found."

    "According to the Oxfam report, more than half of Peru's rivers with highest demand for use are severely polluted: the Chira, Piura, Llaunaco, Santa and Huallaga rivers in the north; the Chillón, Yauli and Mantaro in the central region; and the Chili River in the south."

  • Long-Distance Outhouse

    This piglet was having a grand time in the mud next to the outhouse I was using in the Sacred Valley in Peru. The ground you see surrounding the piglet is pretty similar to what I saw inside the outhouse, except that the outhouse has a hole dug into the dirt. I have pretty decent balance, which is a good thing. You certainly wouldn't want to slip and end up with a foot in the hole.

    Many Peruvians are upgrading their pit latrines to flush latrine. Instead of a dirt hole, there is a tile with a hole in it. The tile hole leads to a pipeline that's up to 5 meters long and ends in a sanitary pit. This set up is sort of a long-distance outhouse that keeps the smells and insects at bay. You might think that a flush latrine has running water piped in like we do in the US. That's not necessarily the case. One of the flush latrines that I used had a bucket of water for manually flushing.

    The big advantage over flush latrines from the one I used next to the friendly piglet, is that having water available for flushing means you also have water available for hand washing. Clean hands prevent disease!

    See Families in the Andes opt for flush latrines

  • Recycling Urine

    A weaver in the Peruvian Andes explained to me how she she raises sheep, sheers them, then washes, cards, combs, spins, dyes, and weaves the wool.  She dyes the wool using natural materials. 

    She makes the dyes using urine. Find that odd? Read "Urine, Fleece, and Natural Dyes. Apparently this is an age-old method, although I doubt you'll find it much in practice in the USA.

    While outside the weaver's home, I noticed a bucket underneath the house. I found out that is the pee bucket. When there is enough urine, the weaver empties it into her dye pot. Now that's recycling!

  • A Schoolhouse in Peru

    These Andean children are looking through a window into their schoolhouse. I'm inside; they are not. Seems like it should be the other way around, but this particular day is not a school day. It is an extremely rainy day. Just a few miles from here, the trail ascends to a 15,000 foot pass where it's snowing fiercely. Our guide doesn't want us to cross in those conditions. He negotiated with the small village to let our group of adventure travelers use the one-room schoolhouse until the weather breaks. For the children, this is a novelty.

    I saw a lot of children while hiking in the Peruvian Andes. Most of them were also hiking, but they were hiking to school. Some people live within the bounds of a small village, but many families are isolated, quite distant from the school. The children I saw seemed to enjoy hiking several miles—big wide smiles on their faces. But perhaps they were smiling because I and my companions were an odd-looking group of tall people with hiking sticks, funny hats, and big boots.

    Peru education attendance:

    • Ages 6 - 11: 92% ages 6-11
    • Ages 12-16: 66%
    • Literacy--96% in urban areas, 80% in rural areas.