As you read these words archaeological sites in Peru are being destroyed at an unprecedented rate. With the destruction of each site, we lose another key to unlocking the mysteries of our past. Like the extinction of a species or an indigenous culture with each site destroyed, knowledge of our past is lost forever.
Next to these archaeological sites are shanty towns constructed from mud bricks, flattened tin cans, cane, and reed mats. Most of these communities lack even the humblest of necessities including clean drinking water, sanitary sewage disposal, trash collection, good schools, and economic opportunities. More than 14 million people—half of the people of Peru—live in these communities.
To solve the intertwined problems of looting, poverty, and lack of heritage education, we form partnerships with poor communities in Peru. We provide communities with heritage education programs and funding and expertise for community-identified development projects, such as schools, health clinics, water and sanitation systems, roads, parks, and electrification. In exchange, community partners agree to respect the boundaries of local archaeological sites.
We fund these community development, education, and preservation partnerships through private donations, grants, and by offering educational programs in Peru. Our programs include archaeological field schools, service learning programs in community development, and archaeological and cultural tours. When you enroll in one of our programs, part of your fees goes directly to development projects in communities that have agreed to protect local archaeological sites. You will meet community members, see how your fees are being invested in the community, and tour the archaeological sites the community is protecting. Through these programs we unite communities in Peru with socially committed people in the US. Our goal is to preserve the 10 most endangered sites on the north coast of Peru within 5 years by forming partnerships with 10 communities.