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Festival month in Cusco has officially ended, culminating with the province-wide celebration of Inti Raymi - a celebration of Cusco and Incan culture that includes a theatrical event and ceremony that winds its way through the historic centre of Cusco and ends in the ruins of Sacsayhuaman (the head of the puma shape of the city). Check out Erick's most recent blog for his experience at the festival! We no longer have the sounds of fireworks going off at all times in all places, and the city has more or less settled into its bustling tranquility once more.

In Casa Mosqoy, the students remain ever focused on their studies and maintaining the house. Our transition to a student cabinet in charge of the house has been a learning process for us all, and we are starting to see the changes brought from giving the kids more responsibilities and ownership over their home. Intercambios (cultural exchanges) are organised by the kids, who come up with a menu, decide who will present and on what, and will begin giving the house tour in July! They have slowly taken over creating cleaning and cooking schedules, and are very good at providing support to others if they can’t complete their chores for some reason.

All photos by Diego Nishiyama

Perhaps though, the most important update from the Andean Youth Program at this time is the finalisation of Mosqoy 6! In September, we will be welcoming five new students to our program to carry out their dreams of education and bringing their communities forward in a culturally appropriate manner! The final step in the selection process was to assist in event planning - our First Annual River Clean Up! This year was our first kick-at-the-can, so to speak, and it was a great success!

On May 31st, Mosqoy volunteers got up early to travel to Ollantaytambo with other volunteers and students to set up for our River Clean Up. In the month prior, Erick and Kristina worked hard to collaborate with the Municipality of Ollantaytambo and the Colegio Ollantay, among others, to plan the event. In the end, Mosqoy officially collaborated with the local government, who provided some plastic bags, security, and some members of the limpieza público (public cleaning), along with a drink and sandwich at the garbage drop off (or refrigerio). Incoming students Deniss, Kelly Cecilia, and Fernando were instrumental in increasing awareness of the event in Ollantaytambo, spending a full day putting up flyers all over the town. They also spoke with the director of the local high school to have students participate - specifically students in the Nature Club. In the end, we had over 75 people show up for our event!

The day had many fun times, as well as some things to learn from and improve on for future events. Fortunately, all of our students and participants were adventurous and cleaned up garbage from some precarious river banks and thoroughly enjoyed small walks through private farms or chakras to find a new way to access the river. We split up into two groups to clean both sides of the river. It was an amazing sight to look up the river and see so many people with so many full garbage bags. In total, we filled over 300 garbage bags with plastic, glass, and random junk from the Sacred Valley’s lifesource - the Vilcanota River. We cleaned approximately three and a half kilometres of the river before coming to the Ancopacha bridge, where the municipality awaited us with drinks and a sandwich and the huge garbage compactor that was going to drive along the highway on both sides of the river to pick up bags that could no longer be carried. Thanks to our friend and volunteer, Diego Nishiyama, who photographed the event, and all other volunteers who made it a reality!

Check back on our Facebook page for an album of the River Clean Up.

We were impressed by the dedication and the initiative shown by our Mosqoy 6 students, and look forward to having them participate in our programs and ultimately become strong leaders in their communities. We are actively looking for sponsors for these excellent candidates, so if you are interested in supporting the post-secondary education of deserving, marginalised students from the Sacred Valley and the Mapacho River Valley, please let us know and we will send you more information!

As always, we thank you for your support and wish everyone a happy summer! Keep us in mind as we freeze through the Andean winter nights!

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