By Katie Lau | January 20, 2022

Maria Fernanda from Caylloma

Sometimes, the cards just seemed to be stacked against you. For Quechua people living in the Peruvian highlands, that is the reality. Many of them lead isolated lives at 13,000 ft above sea level as marginal farmers. Much of the rural adult population is illiterate, not having studied past primary school. This fragmented education is not by choice. Many kids join the workforce early to help their families financially

Many of you are familiar with the name Maria Fernanda. If not, let me introduce you to this astounding young woman. Born in Caylloma, she is one of five kids in her family. Her single mother is an alpaca shepherdess who enrolled Maria Fernanda in Casa Chapi as a 3rd grader in 2013.

“When I was little, I was sad because I only went to school sometimes. My dad did not want me to study because I was a girl. [When I first started to study at Casa Chapi] I was afraid that my dad would come get me out or make trouble. But he died. When I found out I felt sorry for him, but I did not have that fear anymore.”

Maria Fernanda could easily have been another Quechua statistic who goes through life bearing the brunt of poverty in Peru. Thanks to the support of our donors like you over the years, we’ve been able to empower students like Maria Fernanda to break the cycle of poverty. From Casa Chapi to Paola Frassinetti High School, she has now graduated and plans to pursue a degree in Business Administration.

“Education in important to me because it’s the way we can change our lifestyle and be an example to our society. For all the kids currently at Casa Chapi, take advantage of this great opportunity. There is only one chance, don’t pass it up. Your future depends on it. Show that you are capable of change. Don’t fear success.”

Her true passion lies in her art. One of her drawings was commissioned to be printed onto a limited-edition luxurious shawl from Kuna by Alpaca Collections.

Maria Fernanda, we are very proud of you and cannot wait to hear about your studies at university.

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