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Happy February and 2014!! We at Mosqoy hope everyone had a restful holiday season with their loved ones - both Juan and Kristina were able to enjoy their vacations with family in December and January. That said, we are back in the swing of things with the Andean Youth Program! Ashli and Kristina spent most of December hiking through the Andes to offer a selection exam to our weaving communities. This year we had about 100 applicants to participate in the program, and after the arduous process of reading every exam (Ashli, Kristina, Juan and one alumnus, Ebhert) - we ended up with a group of 20 great pre-selects. All of January and most of February will see Juan and Kristina going to the houses of each pre-selected student to meet them and their families, and get to know them personally. We know it will be tough to choose the final eight to enter the program as all of our candidates are spectacular - but from now until June, it will be based largely on student participation and interest in Mosqoy activities (such as our first annual river clean up in May!).

Casa Mosqoy come March!

In addition to hiking to communities for selection, Ashli, Kristina and Rose (Textile Field Coordinator) completed a two day trek from Huaran to Lares in preparation for our first school trip with Brentwood School. In March, a group of 24 high school students from Canada will be making their way to Peru and participating in a service learning project with Mosqoy! They have been paired with students from the AYP in a “student buddy” system, and everyone will be participating in the big Casa Mosqoy move. Juan and Kristina have worked hard to find a new place suitable for AYP needs as our contract is about to expire in our current rented dormitory. After the move, everyone (Mosqoy AND Brentwood) will be completing a two day trek to Lares - the land of amazing thermal baths where we will camp the night and slowly make our way back to Cusco the next day.

L - R: Ashli, Kristina and Rose celebrate one of the five summits in the hike.

Before Ashli and Kristina left for Canada and Juan took time away from Casa Mosqoy to be with his family who came to Cusco to spend the holidays, we celebrated Christmas at Casa Mosqoy with a delicious crepe dinner prepared by Rose. Program volunteers, students, alumni, and friends of Mosqoy were at the house where we ate to our hearts content, drank hot chocolate, and opened our Secret Santa gifts. It was a great night to be together and celebrate the holiday and family. Secret Santa’s are done differently here; instead of guessing who the santa was, the santa actually stood up and said nice things about the person they had bought the gift for and everyone guessed who was receiving the gifts. It was very heart warming.

The month of January saw the completion of our Sexual and Reproductive Health workshop series. Every Wednesday night, three volunteers from Ayni Wasi (Sacred Valley Health) would come to Cusco to teach workshops on different themes. In total we had four themes: Anatomy and Pregnancy, Sexually Transmitted Infections and Family Planning, Gender and Sexual Identity, and finally Healthy Relationships. Each workshop began with a pre-quiz, to see exactly what the kids knew about the topic, and a post-quiz to see exactly what they learned. We are planning on making this program an annual event at Mosqoy, and are looking forward to seeing the effect (if any) our workshops had on our students knowledge and ideas. Check out a blog of Sacred Valley Health's experience here. We are also looking forward to developing our employability workshop with topics such as CV and Resume writing, How to Take an Interview, and Public Speaking. We plan to develop the series in the coming months and have it as an annual program.

A group of Mosqoy students looking disgusted by pictures of STI's.

Our Kallpa K'oj program is gaining speed, as we have been to every weaving community to see which projects and workshops they would like our AYP students to support. Among the list are projects such as nutrition workshops, Spanish language classes, and marketing projects. We are so excited to start developing these workshops with our new Kallpa K'oj assistant, Marietta, beginning in April! Juan has also been working hard, and successfully had made a connection with another local NGO, Awamaki, to develop internships and practicums for our best students.

We are looking forward to welcoming a new group of students and volunteers this year! We will introduce you to every new soul participating in or volunteering with our program as they come along. In the meantime, keep checking back for blogs from the field from Juan and Rose.

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