Willka T'ika Children's Foundation

The Willka T’ika Children’s Fund, established in 1995, has supported the education of hundreds of Quechua children in remote Andean villages.

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The idea began when Carol Cumes, who later founded Willka T’ika, first visited the isolated village of Patakancha in the 1980’s. At 14,000 feet elevation, Patachanka was 1,000 feet above the nearest dirt road.

To her amazement, Carol found two teachers who hitchhiked and walked from the Sacred Valley to Patakancha each week to teach in the village’s dilapidated one-room school. Lacking desks, blackboards, school supplies, and textbooks, the two women improvised, using song and dance to teach reading and writing in Quechua and Spanish, and taking the children outside to teach math class using pebbles on the ground.

A few years later, when the dirt road was extended to Patakancha, Carol began bringing her “Journey to Machu Picchu” travel groups on day trips to this Andean village far from the tourist routes. Each time, the group brought a few school supplies with them. The participants also began leaving small financial donations, which were immediately put to use. The Willka T’ika Children’s Fund (WTCF) was born.

Meanwhile, word spread about the work of these two teachers, and more and more children enrolled in the Patakancha school, some walking for two or three hours across the mountains each morning and evening in order to attend. Donations coming from visitors to Willka T’ika allowed the WTCF to build the first library in an isolated community.

When a mountain path passing near Patakancha became a popular tourist route, the school, by now well established, began receiving assistance from other sources. The WTCF moved on to begin serving schools in other, more isolated high mountain communities.

The Fund’s operations are inspired by the Andean principle of ayni (loving and caring reciprocity), creating an opportunity for visitors to give and providing support for the children in these remote villages to be educated and thrive. All donations go directly to the schools and their surrounding communities. The foundation’s operating costs are covered by Willka T’ika. The Fund maintains a policy that every child at the schools it supports is included in all gifts and programs.

The WTCF provides critical assistance to Cochamocco, a remote school serving children from five Qero communities, as well as to Paru Paru, closer to the Valley floor. The Fund helps to provide school buildings, libraries, kitchens, multipurpose rooms, books, and school supplies.

The Fund also supports mothers in traditional weaving programs, and provides blankets and traditional Andean clothing for children during cold winter months. Emergency medical assistance, clothing, and school supplies are offered to hundreds of Quechua children each year.

Many of these dedicated students have successfully passed their entrance examination to University, made local news, and with the kind sponsorship of donors to the WTCF, are presently enrolled and flourishing in their studies at Peru University in Cusco.

The children attending Cochamocco love to come to school and are eager to make something of their lives. School attendance approaches 100 percent, diminished only when snow blocks the long walk over mountains from home, or parents are sick or need help with animals or crops.

In addition to the regular education curriculum, the Fund fosters self-sufficiency training to teach life skills—such as business skills, greenhouse projects, carpentry, ceramic production, and raising guinea pigs for protein—and also encourages the continuation of ancient Andean traditions.

Make a Donation

Donate $100 or more, and receive a gift copy of Carol Cumes book: Chakra Gardens: Opening the Senses of the Soul

Carol’s award-winning book illustrates the story of the Willka T’ika gardens, with vibrant photographs and Carol’s own heartfelt words. Each book purchase supports The Willka T’ika Children’s Fund, which provides school materials and more to Andean children and their dedicated teachers in remote areas of the Peruvian Andes.

Winner of 3 awards, including Winner of Independent Publisher’s IPPY Gold Award for Best New Age/Mind Body Spirit Book 2009

Donations to the Willka T’ika Children’s Fund provide schools with the following:

  • Construction and renovation of schoolrooms, libraries, and computer rooms ($10,000 builds a large classroom)
  • Computers plus trained teachers and technical support ($500-1000 provides one computer with technical support)
  • Hot nourishing lunches ($0.50 buys one hot lunch; half of the children walk 2–3 hours to school and back each day, and a nourishing lunch helps them keep alert and inspired to learn)
  • Clothing and blankets
  • Emergency medical treatment for children
  • Kitchens and cooking facilities
  • School desks, tables, benches, blackboards
  • School supplies (in Peru, students purchase their own supplies, which mountain children cannot afford)
  • School books (books in Spanish are a wonderful treat and help the children learn their second language)
  • Supplies for art and ceramics classes
  • Instruments for music classes (talented students dream of performing in school parades on special occasions; additional funds would sponsor a music teacher to coach them a week or two prior to each event)
  • Salaries for teachers not receiving a government salary ($5000 will sponsor a secondary school teacher for ten months)
  • Salaries for school caretakers
  • Soccer balls (a much-prized item)
  • Sports equipment and track suit pants for both boys and girls (for soccer, and for yoga classes taught by yoga teachers bringing groups to Willka T’ika; the girls wear skirts to school and need long pants for these sports classes)
  • Sponsoring occasional field trips and allowing them to participate in fiestas and cultural events together with Sacred Valley children
  • Materials and seeds for organic greenhouses
  • Support for community traditional weaving programs (providing children with the traditional alpaca ponchos and shawls that keep them warm in winter)
  • Living expenses in Cusco for the Quechua youth from remote communities attending University

For Further Information

If you’d like to know more about the Willka T’ika Children’s Fund or about making a donation, please contact: info@chakragardens.com.

The Willka T’ika Children’s Fund is classified as tax-exempt under section 501(c)(3) of the U.S. Internal Revenue Code, and donations are tax deductible in the USA to the extent allowed by law. The mission of the Willka T’ika Children’s Fund is to foster self-sufficiency and provide assistance to all aspects of education in remote Quechua communities in the Peruvian Andes.