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Wiñaypaq Waldorf School: In the Spirit of Eternal Growth

Peru: Wiñaypaq is a non-profit organization for culture, ecology and education. Its goal is to preserve the wisdom and knowledge of Andean culture by renewing its relevance for the Peruvian society of the 21st Century. Currently, its main project is the Wiñaypaq intercultural school in the Huandar community, located in the holy Inca valley. The project currently provides free education from kindergarten up to Grade 6 to about 60 Quechua-Children coming from different local communities. Parents are often not able to pay regular school fees and without Wiñaypaq those children would not receive any education at all.

High up in the Andean mountains, Waldorf education is set to provide a loving, nurturing and respectful environment, in which children develop to become self-confident, creative and happy people, proud of their culture and heritage. In Peru, this is not self-evident. In public schools, the language and culture of the Quechua is considered undesirable. Many families are ashamed to speak thire native language, but cannot speak enough Spanish either. As a result there are children without any mother tongue, who are not able to express themselves sufficiently in any language. Therefore, Wiñaypaq School teaches in Spanish and Quechua.

Wiñaypaq (pronounced win-yay-patch) means, “to grow, forever” in the Quechua language. The growth of the school, however, was suddenly interrupted in February 2010, when a landslide destroyed the entire school building. Following the catastrophe it naturally took some time to get back into the school routine. Fortunately the Town of Huandar gave the school a steep hillside property, on which construction for a new school building began later in 2010.

In April 2011, the school was able to move into the new building. It still lacked windows, doors and a few other things, but nonetheless it was possible to teach school lessons. At the same time parents and teachers were busy remaking the teaching materials and toys that were lost in the landslide. Meanwhile the students coloured fabrics and sewed curtains for the classroom, made ceramic tiles for the school kitchen and painted the walls with traditional Inca designs. Today the building even features doors again.

It is not only the initiative’s physical appearance that is changing. Recently Wiñaypaq was able to extend its relations to Pro Humanus, an organization that regularly visits various school projects throughout Peru advising and training teachers in Waldorf education. Wiñaypaq teachers are now part of the program and participate in regular training sessions. In cooperation with the Kusi Kawsay Waldorf School in Pisac, teachers gain an ever-deeper understanding of Waldorf education.

Wiñaypaq is funded in part by the production and sale of the intercultural game “Tokapu”. In Quechua, tokapu means “geometric pattern”. Since the first development of Andean culture up to the present day the principle of “tokapu” is used in ceramics and weaving patterns. Another source of income is the cooperation with a Peruvian travel agency that included visits to the school into their program. For the future Wiñaypaq hopes to develop and sell more educational material.

Unfortunately income does not cover expenses as yet. The initiative, although recognized by the state, is only allowed to operate as a private school and thus receives no government support. As a result Wiñaypaq continues to rely on donations.


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