childhood anemia in peruAnemia has always been a problem for the most vulnerable sectors in the Peruvian population, where access to basic needs, such as nutritional food and good healthcare, is scarce. These realities hit hard on the Peruvian Andes, where around 40 percent of families live in extreme poverty, and 30 percent of their children are severely malnourished, causing them to develop anemia.

The illness can be very damaging, especially for children. Fortunately for them, the 25-year-old, agro-industrial graduate Julio Garay, came up with a simple, yet very efficient solution: a cookie.

How A Cookie is Beating Childhood Anemia in Peru

Garay was born in a rural area located in the province of Ayacucho, where, due to the poor living conditions, one out of three children developed some anemic condition. He even had the illness at age five, which caused him growth and developmental problems later in life.

Luckily, he had the chance to fight back at the illness when he began to study agro-industrial engineering at the Saint Cristobal of Humanga University. For his final thesis, he decided to develop a nutritional cookie that will not only combat anemia in his hometown in Ayacucho, but all of Peru.

The Miracle Components

The cookie is a mix of different ingredients that are known for their high nutritional value: quinoa, bovine blood, kiwicha, chia and cacao. Coming to this final mix was not an easy task for Garay, since the first set of trials were unsuccessful in their mission of raising hemoglobin levels. They also had a sour taste due to the bovine blood that made it very difficult for a child to like.  To improve its taste, Garay decided to add cacao to the mix, improving the flavor significantly. The use of eggs mixed with bovine blood helped to raise the amount of iron supplement in the cookie to 20 mg, the highest in the market.

First Success

In the small community of Mollepate, in Garay’s native region of Ayacucho, the levels of childhood anemia are alarming. It was the perfect place to see if the cookie, later named Nutri Hierro, would significantly raise the standards of hemoglobin in the kids. The parents were instructed to give their kids one packet of Nutri Hierro per day for 30 days, to increase their chances of beating anemia. In the end, their children will go through another medical diagnosis to see if there was any improvement.
The results were favorable; the kids who at the beginning had 10 levels of hemoglobin raised those levels to 15 by the end of the month trial.

What Comes Next: Addressing Childhood Anemia in Peru

Many Peruvian laboratories and business enterprises had their eyes already set on this miracle cookie. However, despite many offers, Garay wanted to start his own company, especially after seeing Nutri Hierro was in high demand. Although he would have to sell his cookies at 50 cents for profit, he reduced the price to 25 cents, making it accessible to impoverished families. Other countries, such as Bolivia and Ecuador, have also requested the product.

Garay does not want to stop here. He is currently developing other dietary supplements that will help brain development in small children, as well as developing vegan options. Safe to say, there are high hopes to not only to eradicate anemia in the most impoverished provinces but also in all Peru.

– Adriana Ruiz
Photo: Flickr

A Solution to Poverty in Peru
Peru’s location in the dense tropics of the Amazon is contentious. While the environment offers the water and sunshine needed to efficiently grow crops, frequent natural disasters destroy the very lands Peruvian farmers cultivate. The destruction of the cacao bean is a primary concern among rural agriculturists. Voted as the provider of the best dark chocolate in the world in 2017, it is imperative that cacao beans thrive as they provide a solution to poverty in Peru.

Poverty in Peru

The Peruvian government recorded a poverty rate of 21.7 percent in 2017, 1 percent higher than the previous year. This is the first time in sixteen years the poverty rate has risen in Peru, leaving 6.9 million individuals in conditions of economic instability and future uncertainty. Those living in rural areas are most affected because the urban setting acts as an energetic palette for new job opportunities and activism.

Cacao Farming in Peru

The cacao bean offers a solution to poverty in Peru, particularly for the impoverished individuals who have access to vast growing valleys. The South American country is ranked as one of the world’s most biodiverse. This makes for rich soil content that provides a promising potential for high-quality cacao growth. Furthermore, Peru’s climate is one of few that supports the growth of a variety of cacao species. Some common varieties include the Trinitary, Amazon foreign and Creole cacao beans.

Peruvian farmers have taken advantage of these environmental accolades, as it has become one of the world’s prominent cacao producers. Cacao exported from Peruvian growing sites rose a substantial 424 percent from 2001 to 2007. Within these same years, exporting profits rose from $0.2 million to $11 million. This number does not include the Peruvian profit margin of products made from cacao, including cacao butter, liquor, paste, husks, and cocoa powder.

The Peruvian government has recognized the considerable benefits reaped by cacao production. National policy crafted after the 2017 increase in poverty levels illustrate that the government is specifically mindful of cacao production and hopes to bolster its distribution as a solution to poverty in Peru.

One of these policies includes the weeding out of illegal cocaine farms and offering the land to cacao farmers. The U.S has recently demonstrated its support for this strategy. In 2018, the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) joined the Peruvian Commission for Development and Life Without Drugs (DEVIDA) as well as a multitude of private businesses in Peru. The U.S. government has connected these farmers to a new international base through which they can expect a prosperous return on their delicious beans. The renewed farmlands furthermore provide new opportunities for the jobless as countless hands are needed to carefully harvest the cacao bean.

What Does the Future Hold?

As a result of Peru’s and the U.S.’s dual effort to protect and distribute Peruvian cacao beans, USAID has predicted that Peru’s exportation of this bean will more than double by 2021. A new partnership with the U.S. also establishes Peru’s intimate access to the $35 billion American confectionery industry. These statistics will suggest that poverty rates in Peru, specifically in rural areas, will once again begin to sink.

The cacao bean will continue to put smiles on faces across the world. As long as there is a hunger for delightful Peruvian dark chocolate, there will be a job opportunity for an individual living in poverty. The value of the cacao bean can therefore hardly be underestimated, and while economic instability is an arduous and persistent problem, the production of cacao beans provides a sweet solution to poverty in Peru.

– Annie O’Connell
Photo: Flickr

Safe, Quality Drinking WaterOn May 24, 2019, thousands of residents from poor neighborhoods in Lima, Peru protested business litigation that has been obstructing their access to drinking water. The demand for safe drinking water, a necessity for any lifeform to thrive, is, unfortunately, a common obstacle in South America. Several countries struggle in providing this vital resource to its citizens, especially in rural areas with poorer communities. However, other countries are successfully paving a path to ensuring access to drinking water and sanitation facilities. Here are a few facts about safe drinking water throughout South America.

Access to Safe Drinking Water in South America

  • Peru: Thirty-one million people live in Peru, but 3 million don’t have access to safe drinking water, and 5 million people don’t have access to improved sanitation. While more than 90 percent of Peruvian residents have access to improved drinking water, in rural areas, access drops to below 70 percent. Likewise, urban areas offer sanitation facility access to 82.5 percent of the population, but barely over 50 percent of people in rural communities, highlighting the drastic disparity between socioeconomic and regional populations.
  • Brazil: Similarly, shortcomings in providing safe, quality drinking water exist in South America’s largest country, Brazil. With a population of 208 million, 5 million Brazilians lack access to safe drinking water, and 25 million people, more than 8 percent of the population, don’t have access to sanitation facilities. While 100 percent of the urban population has access to drinking water, in rural areas the percentage drops to 87. The numbers take another hit when it comes to access to sanitation facilities. Eighty-eight percent of the urban population has this access, but almost half of the people in rural populations lack proper sanitation facilities.
  • Argentina: A similar narrative occurs in Argentina, where urban populations might have decent access to safe, quality drinking water and sanitation facilities, but the numbers drop off concerning rural and lower socioeconomic communities which struggle in having their needs and demands addressed by the government. Typical causes for low-quality drinking water include pollution, urbanization and unsustainable forms of agriculture.
  • Uruguay: In stark contrast, Uruguay has available safe drinking water for 100 percent of urban populations, almost 94 percent in rural populations, over 96 percent for improved access to sanitation facilities for urban populations and almost 94 percent for rural populations. The World Bank participated in the success of transforming Uruguay’s access to drinking water, which suffered in the 1980s, by offering loans to the main utility provider. The World Bank and other developers financially assisted Obras Sanitarias del Estado (OSE), the public utility that now provides drinking water to more than 98 percent of Uruguayans, in addition to providing more than half of the sanitation utilities in Uruguay. In addition to finances, these partners aid in ensuring quality operation standards such as upholding accountability, preventing unnecessary water loss, implementing new wastewater treatment plants in rural areas and protecting natural water sources such as the Santa Lucia river basin.
  • Bolivia: Like Uruguay, Bolivia made recent strides in improving access to safe, quality drinking water. They began by meeting the Millenium Development goal of cutting in half the number of people without access to improved drinking water by 2015. President Evo Morales, “a champion of access to water and sanitation as a human right,” leads to a path for the next step which is to achieve universal access to drinking water by 2020 and sanitation by 2025. Bolivia also recently invested $2.9 billion for drinking water access, irrigation systems and sanitation. In 2013, Morales addressed the United Nations calling for access to water and sanitation as a human right. Dedicated to his cause, he leads Bolivia in surpassing most other countries on the continent in ensuring these essential amenities to his constituents.

Unfortunately, the progress of Bolivia and Uruguay doesn’t transcend all borders within South America, as millions still feel neglected by their governments due to not having regular, affordable, safe, quality access to clean drinking water.

– Keeley Griego
Photo: Flickr

children in venezuela
In a nation experiencing an economic crisis, the children of Venezuela are suffering. Poverty is on the rise, including an increase in the malnutrition of children due to limited access to resources. Families fleeing to Peru have traveled quite far. Along the way, many have faced discrimination due to their migrant status. UNICEF and Plan International have developed a strategy for aiding children who are experiencing rapid changes in their home lives. They are helping children in Venezuela find a “Happiness Plan.”

Conditions in Venezuela

At one time, Venezuela was part of a wealthier portion of Latin America. However, with new officials and underdevelopment, poverty is now abundant. A large number of resources were focused toward developing the oil industry while other developments were delayed. With the newfound prosperity that oil brought, the economic gap grew further and further apart. The consequences of such destitution can be easily seen in the adults and children of Venezuela. Food, medicine, water and other resources are greatly lacking. This leaves people desperately searching for food.

The desperation associated with poverty was significantly increased in March due to a five-day blackout. Resources like food and water were even more scarce than usual. Some resorted to collecting water from sewage pipes. Multitudes of people were left without food. People rushed to stores to find food but discovered that the stores were already stripped. Some stores were even trashed and burnt in the chaos that ensued with riots. The riots were also the cause of several deaths from untreated medical conditions to gunshot wounds. Hospitals operated under less than ideal conditions, with limited access to electricity and supplies, such as soap.

The Effects of This Crisis On Children

In a press release, UNICEF stated, “ While precise figures are unavailable because of very limited official health or nutrition data, there are clear signs that the crisis is limiting children’s access to quality health services, medicines and food.” Statistics about conditions in Venezuela can be hard to come by, and the ones that are available are often disheartening. Malnutrition is becoming a larger issue for the children of Venezuela. While the government has attempted some measures of addressing the problem, such as monthly packages of food for sale, more still needs to be done to provide for the Venezuelan people.

As a result of the continued crisis in Venezuela, many have fled the country. As of 2018, two million people had already left Venezuela; without a doubt, numerous others have left since. For those who are awaiting refugee status or to be reunited with lost family members, UNICEF has created a safe place to help children with this difficult time.

The Happiness Plan

The “Happiness Plan” is a safe space for children that has been set up in a tent in the country of Peru. Filled with games, coloring pages and books, this tent provides an outlet for children to be children while awaiting their official entry into Peru. In addition to the fun activities, the “Happiness Plan” offers psychosocial support from professionals for children struggling with these difficult transitions they are facing.

Some of the children passing through the tent have been separated from their families. They are awaiting the chance to rejoin their families in Peru. Others are with some members of their nuclear family but had to leave the rest of their family and friends behind them in Venezuela. One survey taken by UNICEF and the International Organization for Migration stated that 73 percent of Venezuelan families in Tumbes, Peru, had to leave behind one or more of their children.

In such a dismal time for Venezuela, it is reassuring to know that organizations such as UNICEF and Plan International are implementing programs to help these children who have experienced such abrupt change. They will undoubtedly need physical and psychological support to heal from the trauma they have experienced in their home country.

Carolyn Newsome
Photo: Flickr

Poverty in Peru
Poverty in Peru declined steadily from 2001 to 2016, dropping from 55 percent to 21 percent. In 2017, the poverty rate rose slightly to 21 .7 percent. The relative success Peru has had in reducing poverty, however, is a result of economic growth along with increased and improved social programs and technological innovations. The Inter-American Foundation, which currently has 20 active projects in the nation, has made significant contributions to the reduction of poverty in Peru, having invested more than $5 million in the nation and directly benefiting more than 35,000 people.

The Situation in Peru

In Peru, poverty is defined as having a monthly income of fewer than 338 soles (equal to $105). Poverty continues to be an issue in both urban and rural areas, with 44 percent of the impoverished population living in rural areas while the remaining 56 percent are located closer to urban centers. Those who are extremely poor tend to live in rural areas or on the very outskirts of the cities. Natural disasters, inadequate education and training and poor healthcare all contribute to poverty in Peru, making it a multi-dimensional problem.

The recent increase in the poverty rate can be at least partially attributed to political turmoil in the nation. Pedro Pablo Kuczynski was elected to office in 2016, and his policy decisions reflected a misunderstanding of Peru’s poverty and how best to reduce it. He resigned in March 2018, however, and his successor, Martín Vizcarra, has “declared the rise in poverty ‘unacceptable.’” It remains to be seen how new leadership will affect Peru’s poverty rates in coming years.

The Inter-American Foundation in Peru

While outside organizations cannot necessarily solve problems within Peru’s government, they can have an impact on improving the lives of Peruvians across the nation through targeted and effective investments and programming. The Inter-American Foundation, for example, has committed to investing in Peru by providing specific grants that are invested strategically to make the largest possible impact.

The Inter-American Foundation (IAF) was created by Congress in 1969 to act as an independent agency of the U.S. Government. The IAF focuses its efforts on reducing poverty in Latin America and the Caribbean, providing grants and creating partnerships with local organizations and governments. Rather than designing projects, the IAF invests in initiatives created by grassroots groups and communities, supporting local innovation.

The programs supported by the IAF in Peru employ a range of methods for various intended outcomes, although all are connected to efforts to reduce poverty in Peru. Program areas include leadership, education, job skills, enterprise development, agriculture, food security, legal assistance and inclusion. Most of these programs are funded by the IAF for periods of three to six years, with the amount of grant funding and the number of years the program will run determined at the outset. The IAF also estimates how many direct and indirect beneficiaries each grant will have.

Programs Supported by IAF in Peru

One of the initiatives most recently supported by the IAF, the Asociación Peruana de Productores de Cacao (APPCACAO), will receive $177,500 from the IAF and run from 2018 to 2020. This program is designed to help cacao producers, who often lack the income needed to support their families. According to the IAF, APPCACAO will help “raise their income and quality of life by improving their production of fine flavor cacao and strengthening their management and governance practices to ensure greater participation of women and youth.” This will directly benefit 1,260 individuals and another 3,900 will receive indirect benefits as this program seeks to improve agriculture, food security, leadership, education, job skills and enterprise development.

The Asociación Grupo de Trabajo Redes (AGTR) is a program that also addresses the economic empowerment of women by focusing on female domestic workers. The IAF recognizes that these women are likely to have poor working conditions and low incomes. It, therefore, works to educate female domestic workers about their legal rights and helps to improve their negotiation skills, helping them find higher-paying jobs with humane working conditions. With an IAF investment of $240,000, this program will be active from 2017 to 2020, directly benefiting 2,600 individuals and indirectly benefiting 44,650.

A third program working to reduce poverty in Peru is the Asociación Kallpa para la Promoción de la Salud Integral y el Desarrollo (Kallpa), which focuses on reducing youth unemployment, including the unemployment of disabled youth. Youth is defined as anyone between the ages of 15 and 29, and the program provides the support needed for young people to “find meaningful employment or start a small business.” The IAF has invested $554,390 in this program, which is expected to benefit 1,550 direct and 5,200 indirect individuals.

Looking Ahead

These programs provide a brief look at the work that the IAF has supported, highlighting its efforts to improve conditions for women and young people, decrease food insecurity, improve working conditions and reduce unemployment, all of which are vital to decreasing poverty in Peru. Notably, however, 11 out of the 20 active projects currently supported by the IAF were scheduled to end in 2018, and it remains to be seen whether the IAF will continue to invest in as many projects in the future.

– Sara Olk
Photo: Flickr

Using the Internet for DevelopmentIf you are reading this, you are lucky enough to have something that 4.1 billion people go without every day- internet access. And while the internet may be used for a variety of frivolous and silly things like cat videos, memes and gifs, it has also become an indispensable part of daily life in the developed world. The internet also has the potential to drastically improve life for the world’s extreme poor. One study estimated that guaranteeing internet access for everyone would lift 500 million people out of poverty and add over $6 trillion to the global economy. Some people are already taking action. Here are six countries that are using the internet as the most important mean for development.

  1. Colombia.  Thirty-nine percent of Colombia’s citizens live under the poverty line, with the poorest living on under $2 a day. In response, the government has taken steps in using the internet for development by ensuring internet access for 96 percent of this tropical nation’s population. In three years, this infrastructure development raised at least 2.5 million people out of poverty. As the Minister for Technology, Diego Molano, said in an interview with The Guardian: “When we connect, for example, a rural school to Internet, when we connect a small school in the middle of the jungle to Internet, those kids in the middle of nowhere have effectively the same opportunity to access the whole of information society — just like any kid in New York, London or Paris.”
  2. China. While crowdfunding is common in the United States, it is usually not used on a such a wide scale as in China. The Chinese government has recently released an online program called Social Participation in Poverty Alleviation and Development, designed to lift at least 47 million people out of extreme poverty. Essentially, it uses social media platforms such as WeChat to allow normal citizens to help struggling families. At least $3.45 million has been raised for various projects that cover education, agriculture and more important social and economic issues, using the internet as the basis for development.
  3. Kenya. Private industry can make a difference as well. In Kenya, online banking systems such as M-PESA have helped to lift citizens out of poverty. Tavneet Suri, an economist at MIT decided to study the impacts of this phenomenon. She found that for 10 percent of families living on less than $1.25 a day using a mobile banking system was enough to lift them out of extreme poverty. The effect was even more marked amongst women. The mobile system allowed female-led families to save 22 percent more money than before.
  4. Bhutan. The small country of Bhutan located high in the Himalayan mountains has been isolated from the outside world for most of its history. The onset of the digital age changed that. The government has actively encouraged its citizens’ adoption of the internet by moving bureaucratic processes. With the support of the World Bank, information communications technology will continue to expand. In 15 years alone, the number of internet users in Bhutan grew by over 300 thousand.
  5. Rwanda. Though Rwanda may still be known in the international community for its horrific ethnic genocide, in recent years, the country has taken multiple steps towards development. The government has launched an effort called Vision2020 to cultivate an entrepreneurial, tech-savvy middle class. Internet connections are widespread throughout the country and are used for innovative purposes. One philanthropist started the Incike Initiative, an annual crowdfund that provides health care for the survivors of the genocide. Another entrepreneur started a platform called Girl Hub that allows women to give their opinions to local news sources. Rwanda fully utilizes the internet for development.
  6. Peru. With support from the international community, the Peruvian government is making efforts to connect more than 300 thousand people in rural areas to the national electric grid and, through this, to the internet as well. This connection has wider implications, especially for education. Students in these isolated areas can now be exposed to ideas in the wider world. This encourages engagement. A teacher in one of these villages, Teresa Uribe says that the kids now want to learn more, thanks to the technology.

These stories show the power of the internet to enact positive change in the developing world. If you too are interested in using the internet for development, take this opportunity to email your representatives about anti-poverty legislation. The internet’s potential should not go wasted.

– Lydia Cardwell
Photo: Flickr

Tourism Reduces Poverty

Machu Pichu is a premier tourist destination in the developing country of Peru. It is listed as one of the new seven wonders of the world, attracts over 1.2 million tourists each year and continues to be incredibly well preserved. Peruvian tourism authorities are restricting access to the Incan ruins to minimize the impact of the millions of visitors who journey to the ancient citadel each year. Efforts like these have preserved most of the city and its buildings that are over 500 years old. Machu Pichu is the “golden goose” of the Incan ruins that are spread throughout Peru and has shown that tourism reduces poverty.

Machu Pichu

The ancient citadel was built on a mountain ridge in the Cusco region for the Incan emperor Pachacuti around 1450. It was soon abandoned during the Spanish conquest, but its isolated location left it completely unnoticed by the conquistadors, who were responsible for the destruction of most Incan relics. Machu Pichu remained unknown to the outside world until 1911, when it was discovered by American historian Hiram Bingham. It was declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1983 and still features its famous astronomical clock, Temple of the Sun and Room of Three Windows that have given historians and tourists an accurate glimpse into Incan life.

Tourism in Peru

The astronomical growth in the popularity of Machu Pichu, from having around 800,000 visitors in 1980 to over 1.2 million in 2013, has made tourism an essential development tool in Peru. According to a guide for Akorn Destination Management, “tourism is the main industry in the region of Cuzco followed by mining and then agriculture.” Tourism reduces poverty in Peru by providing the government with tax revenue from restaurants, sales and income, in addition to the $6 million generated per year from Machu Pichu’s entrance fee.

The Peruvian people also benefit from the enormous popularity and interest in the ancient ruins, through a multiplier effect, a phenomenon whereby a given change in a particular input causes a larger change in output. The new money that is brought into the economy by tourists attracts new businesses and services that are highly labor intensive, which creates millions of jobs for Peruvians. Both the employment benefits for Peruvians and the tax dollars going to the government are having a positive impact on the overall economy.

The Economy in Peru

Peru is one of the world’s fastest growing economies with a GDP of 6.3 percent in 2011 and is classified as an upper-middle economy. According to the guide, “Peru has grown exponentially in the last decade.” This steady increase in GDP has been coupled with tourism in Peru, growing by an annual rate of 25 percent. Overall, travel and tourism contribute 10.1 percent to the country’s GDP and supports 1,366,500 jobs. Thus, Peru has the largest tourism sector in all of South America and is one of the leaders in the global tourism industry.

Tourism is responsible for 5 percent of the world’s GDP and over 235 million jobs. It is an important development tool for developing countries, which host several of the world’s wonders. Peru’s use of Machu Pichu as a tool for domestic progress is a prime example of how tourism reduces poverty.

– Anand Tayal
Photo: Unsplash

Legalizing Coca Leaf Production
A recent study on the benefits of coca leaf legalization has spurred lobbying efforts in Colombia, with advocates encouraging the country to legalize its production rather than attempting to eradicate the crop. Using coca leaves has been a traditional practice among indigenous South Americans for thousands of years. Before the leaf was harvested and manufactured into cocaine, it was chewed or made into a tea. It provides medicinal and health benefits like treating nausea and can be used for an energy boost.

Before industrialization, when working long days of hard labor, workers—especially some of the underprivileged farmers—would chew coca leaves for the effect of the stimulant but also to satiate hunger pangs while working on an empty stomach. Coca leaves also provide essential minerals like calcium, magnesium, phosphorus and vitamins like A, B1, B6, C and E. Chewing and brewing coca leaves is a natural way of taking dietary supplements.

Peru and Bolivia See Benefits from Legalizing Coca Leaf Production

The government of Peru formed the National Coca Company of Peru (ENACO) in 1949, pushing for legalizing coca leaf production in order to make items and medicines derived from coca leaves. Farmers growing leaves for chewing to be sold to ENACO got their land certified for legal growth in 1978. ENACO does not only cultivate legal coca leaves for local traditional uses, but also sells its products around the world. One of the most common uses is as a natural anesthetic for eye surgery; ENACO is one of two companies that produce coca leaves for this medicinal purpose.

Coca production in Bolivia, however, is more recent. Bolivia has the third world’s largest crop of coca leaves (after Columbia and Peru) with about 67,000 acres used for farming. In 2011, the Bolivian Community Coca Company was founded by the government for the legal cultivation and purchase of coca leaves to be made into flour, ointments, and other products. In 2013, the Bolivian government sought to market coca-based toothpaste to the public with the intention of battling the illicit use of the drug. By using the drug for products like toothpaste or flour, there will be more use of coca leaves for legal industrialization and less for illegal drug trafficking.

How the Legal Coca Leaf Could Help Colombia

Legalizing coca leaf production in the long term could benefit Colombia economically, politically and socially. Allowing coca leaf farms could offset expensive anti-drug efforts like crop substitution, where the government buys out farmers of their current crop and looks to replace it with a different, legal product. However, crop substitution is costly and non-sustainable, especially if the demand for cocaine does not change. If the uses for coca leaves remain the same while their cultivation is restricted by the government, it will merely increase the price of the drug and make crime worse.

Bolivia and Peru are examples of the benefits of legalizing coca leaf production. These countries show that the medicinal benefits can be harnessed to create a market that effectively limits the illicit use of the leaves by taking away from the crops that would be used to make cocaine. Opening a legal market for coca leaves to be made into useful items like flour, ointments, toothpaste and other products would help lower the amount of drug trafficking and create new opportunities for coca leaf farmers to sell this indigenous plant.

– David Daniels
Photo: Flickr


Citizens that live in poverty suffer from a multitude of diseases, but they do not have enough money or even the means of transportation to receive proper treatment. This makes the need for healthcare in Peru a top priority for missionaries and non-profit organizations.

Peru’s economy has been booming since the global financial crisis years back, but their government does not spend enough of its money on health care. Government spending on healthcare in Peru is about 5.5 percent, which is much lower than the United States at 17.1 percent, according to Healthcare Economist.

Healthcare In Peru

Peru is a country with approximately 31 million people, but MedLife reports that one-third of the population does not have access to basic health care. In rural parts of the country where poverty is more prominent, healthcare is even more inaccessible. The city of Cusco, which is the main destination for tourists, does not provide adequate healthcare services for citizens, so people are forced to travel to neighboring towns.

Peru Health reported that the leading cause of death among citizens in Peru is respiratory disease resulting from influenza and pneumonia with an average of 17,399 deaths per year. Most of the time these ailments are easily curable, but because of lack of access to proper healthcare, citizens in Peru are more vulnerable to these types of diseases.

HIV/AIDS is the fifth cause of death in Peru. It is estimated that there are 74,000 citizens in Peru currently living with HIV/AIDS and an estimated 5,046 people die from the disease each year. Tuberculosis is also a major threat to Peruvians, causing about 2,300 deaths a year, according to Peru Health. Because of high contagion rates, hospitals are likely to turn away patients if there are not enough safe rooms available. 

Peru has one of the highest death rates for pregnant women in the Americas, according to Amnesty International. Indigenous pregnant women, who are living in poverty, are being denied access to basic healthcare. They don’t have access to emergency care or information about maternal healthcare, and there are not enough medical doctors who speak native indigenous languages making it even more of a challenge to receive healthcare in Peru.

Volunteers Around the World

Volunteers Around the World (VAW) is a non-profit organization that strives to provide medical and dental treatment, clean water and health education to citizens living in poverty in different countries around the world. VAW opened its medical outreach chapter in 2015 to serve the need for healthcare in Peru.

Senior at Augusta University, Zach Sweatman, went on a medical mission trip with Volunteers Around the World to Urcos, Peru. Sweatman and the other volunteers set up a clinic every day with an intake, vitals, consultation and pharmacy section in order to help with the need for healthcare in Peru. Sweatman said that the team provided free healthcare and pharmaceuticals to 100 patients every day for two weeks.

According to Sweatman, Urcos is a small farming and mining town about an hour and a half away from Cusco, where the closest hospital is. Citizens don’t have enough money for transportation to get medical assistance when they fall ill, so they have to either fight it off with their immune system or, in severe cases, die. Sweatman also added that sanitary conditions in the area are a large part of the problem because of the parasites and other bacteria in the water.

Even though Peru is mostly a middle-class nation, the parts of the country that are still poverty-stricken suffer from inaccessible healthcare. Missionaries like Sweatman and Volunteers Around the World travel to Peru each year to help improve the healthcare conditions in the country.

– McKenzie Hamby
Photo: Flickr

Cuddle+Kind Feeds ChildrenA fast-growing social business, Cuddle+Kind feeds children in need by donating ten meals for every handknit doll sold and empowers female Peruvian artisans through fair-trade jobs.

A Global Need for Food

One in seven people worldwide are hungry, and one in nine do not have enough food to lead a healthy, active lifestyle. A reduced diet causes 45 percent of deaths in children under five, which adds up to 3.1 million children every year.

Cuddle+Kind, founded by Derek and Jennifer Woodgate, was created with the aim of reducing these numbers and feeding hungry children around the world. The couple was inspired by their three young children and how heartbroken they would be if they could not feed and provide for them. The Woodgates have a background in health, so they understood the important role that nutrition plays in a child’s life.

The couple spent a year establishing partnerships with artisans in Peru and designing the dolls. Dolls in all different types of animals are available, including dogs, foxes, cats and bunnies. Each comes with a unique name and personality. Cuddle+Kind officially launched in September 2015 on the crowdfunding website Indiegogo.com. In just seven weeks, the company sold enough dolls to donate 163,543 meals.

How Cuddle+Kind Feeds Children

Since its beginning, Cuddle+Kind has moved to its own website but maintains the same mission of providing ten meals for every doll sold. The company aims to provide one million meals to children in need every year. The meals are provided through several partnerships with nonprofits, including the World Food Program, the Children’s Hunger Fund, the Breakfast Club of Canada and several orphanages in Haiti. Through these organizations, Cuddle+Kind feeds children around the world and has donated more than 4,452,292 meals since 2015.

Proper nutrition leads to an increase in school attendance and improved educational performance. Girls have higher school attendance when food is not an issue. Additionally, a child’s psychosocial and emotional development has been linked to proper diet and eating habits. Children who are not fed regularly do not develop the same bonds with a caregiver that is typically established. When a family or community shares a meal there is a social component that a child is exposed to and learns from. As Cuddle+Kind feeds children, it provides them the ability to reach higher academically and grow to be stronger, more capable people.

Empowering Women in Peru

In addition to improving the lives of children, Cuddle+Kind empowers women in Peru by providing them sustainable, fair-trade income for creating the dolls they sell. The business has created over 500 jobs for Peruvian artisans, which is needed in a country where only 39.6 percent of women work in wage or salaried positions as compared to 50.1 percent of men.

Being a socially-minded organization, Cuddle+Kind feeds children with the motive of continually improving the world. As a business that works for the good of children in need and emboldens creative women, Cuddle+Kind is blazing a path of kindness and generosity that will have unending benefits for those they reach.

– Sarah Dean
Photo: Flickr