Volunteer Spotlight: Simon

Simon is a Norwegian student with an interest in Quechua culture. He documents his experiences and findings here.


I am a Norwegian student from Oslo, currently writing my bachelor thesis in Development Studies at the University of Oslo. My thesis concerns: Exploring and identifying essential factors to Peruvians of Quechua origin and their identity with or resistance to the Quechua culture.

Peruvians of Quechua origin either reject or uphold their Quechua identity. The main findings in this study demonstrate that cultural identity issues continue to persist, and are often inter-woven in complex structures affected by social, cultural and economic factors.

One of the most interesting findings is that gender should not be seen as an isolated factor but in conjunction with social mobility and rural-urban environments where males are less willing to uphold their cultural Quechua identity and females limitations in social mobility.

A female from Maca emphasized how connected she and the Maca community are with the preservation of their cultural identity by addressing the importance of wearing traditional clothes and arranging competitions rewarding young Peruvians who perform in their native Quechua language. In contrast, her male cousin visiting from Arequipa expressed his dislike for the sound of the Quechua language and his lack of association with its culture.

Among the main observations is that tourism may potentially function as a pull factor, helping communities to resist cultural degradation by providing possible economic gains through the preservation of traditions and language.

Religious differences also arose during interviews (Catholicism versus Andean spiritualism). These variances are worth further investigation regarding the manner in which they influence Peruvians of Quechua origin to reject or uphold their Quechua identity.

In short, my findings involved social mobility, gender, rural vs. urban residence, economic empowerment, tourism, hybridization of Quechua, and intellectual bilingual educational policy (IBE).

My Journey in Peru

I reached out to Quechua Benefit for the possibility of volunteering as an English teacher at Casa Chapi.

Dale, Quechua Benefit’s Executive Director, connected me with long time Quechua Benefit supporters Robert Els, Maria Belen Juares Del Carpio, Kathe Torres and Abel Santander. They were a huge help to me while conducting interviews in Arequipa, Canon del Colca, Cusco and The Sacred Valley.

The warm and welcoming people of Quechua origin gave me insight into their way of looking at the world, which left me humbled, and inspired. I believe the world would likely be a better place if their worldview was shared with more people.

A Poem by Fortunato Ramos, Children’s Village Casa Chapi, Second Grade Elementary

My smile is dry and my face is serious, my broad shoulders, my hard muscles, and my hands are broken by the raw cold. I’m only eight years old, but I’m not a child.

Behind my alpacas I walk the mountain, carry my firewood down to my hut to blow the fire to make my rope, AND I DON’T HAVE TIME TO BE A KID.

The years go by and everything is the same. Dried beans with jerky, are my candies, my toy is the sheepdog, I have little time, BUT I AM NOT A CHILD.

My friend and truck is a very slow jogging donkey,
The fox steals my sheep, and I am not able to be a child.

My face is that of an old man and my walk is that of a grandfather, my calluses broken by stones from the hill, my poncho torn by the strong wind, And this tells me that I am not a child.

And there are no wise men? Aren’t there children’s days? I never had the luck to be a child!

Mi sonrisa es seca y mi rostro es serio, mis espaldas anchas, mis músculos duros, mis manos partidas por el crudo frio. Solo ocho años tengo, pero no soy un niño.

Detrás de mis alpacas ando por el cerro. Y carga´u mi leña bajo hasta mi choza, a soplar el fuego a mismiar mi soga, Y NO TENGO TIEMPO PARA SER UN NIÑO.

Los años caminan y todo es lo mismo, moti, sal con charqui son mis caramelos, mi juguete es el perro ovejero, poco tiempo tengo, PERO NO SOY UN NIÑO.

Mi avión de juguete es un pájaro viego, mi camión es un burro de trotar muy lento, mi amigo, es el zorro que roba mis ovejas, y es todo mi consuelo de poder ser un niño.

Mi rostro es de viejo y mi andar de abuelo, mis callos partidos por piedras del cerro, mi poncho rotoso por el fuerte viento. Todo eso me dice, que no soy un niño.

¿Y no hay reyes magos? ¿No hay días del niño? ¡Jamás tue suerte de poder ser un niño!

Our children at Casa Chapi are able to further their education thanks to your generous donations.

The Casa Chapi Family Tree of Giving gives each donor a range of options for expressing their love and support for Casa Chapi. 100% of what you give is spent directly on the operation of Casa Chapi.

To learn more about the Family Tree of Giving, click the link below.

Xeina is a recent high school graduate now moving onto college in Maryland. This is an interview about what the future holds for her.

Q: Now that you have completed high school, what’s next, Xeina?

A: My next steps are for me to go to college, my summer was busy but ready for college. I am either go into medicine to become a surgeon or any other type of doctor or I’ll be going to business. I am not sure yet, but whatever path I take my heart will be with it.

Q: What are you looking forward to the most while in college?

A: Well making friends, study hard to achieve what I want but also have a great experience.

Q: Why is education important for you?

A: Education is important to me because without it you limit your potential to become more than what you think. Also education is important because is this life education is everything and learning new skills. 

Q: Do you have any words of encouragement for future college-bound students that may have reservations/hesitations?

A: I am not sure how college is going to be because I haven’t started yet, but trust me that college is not just study, is also the connections you make. The people you meet and the new skills you learn.

Q: Any other comments or remarks for our community at Quechua Benefit?

A: I just want to say thank you for all the people who has followed my journey until today. I am really grateful because if it wasn’t for you guys, I wouldn’t be here ready to go to college and give everything of me, study hard, but also enjoy my experience. You guys are part of my life and I hope to make each and everyone of you proud of me. Thank you again!

Inspired by Xeina’s story? Your gift today will help her, and others like her, create opportunities to make an impact in their communities. Click the link below to give the gift of higher education.

Are you looking for a way to help Quechua Benefit? This year there are several options to make end-of-year charitable contributions that give you a tax benefit! For additional information, see IRS Publication 526, Charitable Contributions.


According to the Wall Street Journal, “Congress has made two key changes to enhance tax breaks for giving during the pandemic that expire after this year. One allows millions of taxpayers who wouldn’t normally get a tax break for donations to deduct up to $300 per single filer and $600 per married couple filing jointly. The other allows a full deduction this year for donors making gifts up to 100% of their income, instead of a partial one.” (WSJ, “Making Year-End Donations? Get the Most Tax Bang for Your Charity Buck,” 12/10/21)

That means that even if you don’t itemize your tax return, you get a tax deduction for $600 contribution filing jointly and $300 filing as a single person.


You or someone you know may be eligible to make a qualified charitable distribution from an IRA.

This information is especially beneficial for people who are over 70.5 years old. When you reach 70.5 years of age, you must start taking Required Minimum Distributions from your IRA account. Most people who are age 70.5 are already drawing funds in retirement anyway, so they meet this requirement. But other people who don’t necessarily need the money are forced to take a certain percentage at this time. This is how the IRS makes you pay taxes on all that tax-deferred money you earned over your lifetime.

To put it very simply, this means that you can donate to any qualified 501(c)3 directly from your IRA and bypass paying taxes on that money. Yes, that’s right. You could give to your church or other local nonprofit and actually save money on taxes each year!

Here is an example:

Let’s say you are above age 70.5 and normally give $3,000 to a charity you love and tithe another $3,000 to your church. Instead of you writing them a check from your personal bank account, you have your IRA broker cut you a check from your IRA that’s written directly to each organization.

If you withdrew the same $6,000 from your IRA and made the donation, then you would pay taxes on that money.

If your taxes were 30% federal and 5% state, the total tax saving is $2,100 for your $6,000 donation!

You receive several benefits:

  1. The charitable contribution counts toward your required minimum distribution each year.
  2. Normally a withdrawal from your IRA would count as income, which could cause you to pay taxes on your Social Security and would count towards raising your Medicare premiums. You avoid this tax by simply having your plan administrator cut the check directly from your IRA.
  3. You also don’t need to worry about the adjusted gross income limitations for charitable donations each year.

Qualifying Requirements:

  1. You can’t give to a private (grant-making) foundation
  2. As stated above, you must be 70.5 years old.
  3. The charitable organization must give you proof of the contribution.
  4. These contributions must come from a traditional IRA.
  5. You are limited to $100,000 per year in contributions like this. But,
  6. The tax benefit is per person; so if you have a spouse with a traditional IRA you could potentially gift up to $200,000 between the two of you.

Would you like help with doing this for yourself or a family member?

Quechua Benefit is glad to help!

Contact Mike Safley (503) 703-6020 or Dale Cantwell (303) 902-4503 for more information.

Click here to read more about the benefits of QCD(s) and the rules that govern them. Your financial advisor can help you make your Qualified Charitable Distribution to Quechua Benefit. 100% of your donations directly impact the lives of families, women, and children in Peru.

Thank you for making 25 years of serving the Quechua people possible! Your generous gifts have provided dental and medical care, quality K-12 education for children who previously had no access to school, anemia treatment and prevention, economic empowerment, and livestock husbandry! We appreciate each one of you who have contributed to Quechua Benefit over the past 25 years and look forward to working with you to continue breaking the cycle of poverty among the Quechua people.


Yes, I want to make a 25th Anniversary Gift to the program of my choice.

These young men who began attending Casa Chapi in elementary school are now in college! Thank you for your support of Casa Chapi that made it possible for Isaac, Ronald, and Wilfredo to complete elementary and high school and now study at SENATI Technical Institute.

Isaac, Class of 2019

Isaac’s father dreamed of a better life for his children. In 2014 Isaac came to Casa Chapi as a slight, introverted 11-year-old boy, in the 6th grade who had taught himself to speak Spanish. When he arrived at Casa Chapi, he was behind his grade level at school. But he responded well to his new environment and soon caught up. One day the school district administrator invited all the kids in the district to submit a story about the people of the village where they live and their Quechua culture. Isaac decided to enter the competition and won with his story “A Whale of a Tale.” You can read his story here. Isaac proved to be a diligent student, and he was our first high school graduate in 2019. Isaac is now in his second year at SENATI Technical Institute. He’ll complete his program in Heavy Equipment Maintenance next year.

Ronald, Class of 2020




Ronald arrived at Casa Chapi in 2013, the first year primary school was offered onsite at Casa Chapi. He was 9 years old and been abandoned by his parents. He lived with his maternal grandmother, spoke only Quechua, and was illiterate. Like many children in the highlands, he was at risk for being caught in the multigenerational cycle of poverty. But Ronald learned quickly, and was soon succeeding in school. He persevered through the challenges of COVID and completed high school in December of 2020. Ronald was accepted to study at SENATI Technical Institute, and he is in his first year of a three-year program in Management.



Wilfred, Class of 2020

When Wilfredo arrived at Casa Chapi in 2014, he had already repeated grades. His single mother was an alpaca shepherdess struggling to care for her children.

Your generosity has made all the difference for Wilfredo. He graduated from high school in December of 2020 and has begun the three-year program at SENATI studying Heavy Equipment Maintenance.

These success stories wouldn’t exist without YOU! Your generosity has changed these young men’s lives. Instead of becoming lost in the cycle of poverty, they will be able to provide a good life for themselves and their families. 

When you donate to Quechua Benefit, you are contributing to the success of children who have little hope and whose parents have few resources.

You can become part of our Casa Chapi Family Tree of Giving and provide the same educational opportunity for success to more children like Isaac, Ronald, and Wilfredo.

Yes, I want to be part of the Casa Chapi Family Tree of Giving