Bridging a gap in education

 As an extension of the Sacred Valley Project in Peru, a coalition of Diamond Bar High School students are working to provide financial aid to indigenous Andean girls in receiving a secondary education.

Though the Peruvian government provides all children in Andean communities a free primary education from grades one to six, most families cannot afford for their children to receive a secondary education. More often than not, the eldest son in the family is given the privilege of education, leaving their daughters no choice but to become housewives.

“I didn’t realize how [costly] it was to get a full education for a girl who isn’t as fortunate as people like me,” sophomore Chenfei Wang said. “And I never really paid attention to it because I thought school was a mandatory thing and everyone had access to it, but that isn’t the case.”

After hearing about the organization through a fellow community member, many DBHS students were eager to educate their peers on the educational gender gap in Peru. Members spread the word through promotions on various social media platforms, such as Instagram and Twitter, and encouraged others to do the same.

“I get to introduce our program to strangers, my parents and relatives,” DBHS senior Yunfei Cui said. “In the process of introducing and telling them about other girls’ situations, I’ve learned a lot.”

However, financial instability isn’t the only barrier between Andean girls and a secondary education. On average, students must walk five hours through the Andes mountains to attend school. In Peru, Sacred Valley Project team members accompany the girls on their walks in order to keep them safe.

“They [Peruvian youth] do want to get education because they know it is the only way to get out of their current situation, so I really want to help them,” Cui said. “Every girl and every human being should receive the secondary education that they want.”

Since DBHS’ members of the club cannot physically be with the girls, students work to support them financially through Gofundme. Over the past year, they have nearly reached their initial goal of $2000, the amount required to support a child for one year. This includes transportation, housing, internet, supplies, meals and tutors. Eventually, they aim to raise $10,000. 

“A lot of women have issues and circumstances that don’t allow them to get an education,” said Wang. “Since I am very fortunate, myself, to have an education, I want to work towards getting these girls an education just like me.”