We believe education is the path to change. Over the past year, we've sent six extraordinary young women from impoverished backgrounds to college. Some have already graduated, and some are still in the midst of their studies. Each young woman has a unique and inspiring story about the obstacles and hardships she overcame to reach her potential today. Even more inspiring are these women’s dreams… dreams for a better future, and a passion to make their dreams reality. Through our partnership with Peruvian Hearts an NGO encouraging the education and empowerment of young women in Peru, we are supporting their journey.

1% of every purchase here at Paka goes to Peruvian scholars to expand our program and reach the lives of more young women in Peru. Their stories inspire our work on a daily basis: from our scholar, Carlota, walking four hours each way every day to get to the nearest secondary school before receiving her Paka scholarship, to Erika, who grew up on her family's alfafa farm where they made less than $45 a month for a family of eleven. We’ve watched them become young leaders in their communities as they begin to pave the way for other young women. Your contributions to our mission have made immeasurable impacts in Peru and in our scholar’s lives. Each of them warmly shares how this gift has provided a light that they can now share with others.

The young women dreaming of a better future

Last week Gisella, our Head of Peru, flew from Lima to Cusco to visit our scholars. During her visit she asked a few of them what they'd like to share with the Paka community. Here are a few of their dreams:

Eduarda, one of our Paka scholars smiling

Meet Eduarda

When Eduarda talks about her experience as a Paka scholar, she proudly says that if the Eduarda from five years ago were to see the Eduarda now, she wouldn’t recognize herself. Now, Eduarda's confidence shines brightly as she currently is wrapping up her law degree. Studying law allows her to advocate for those in need. Along with the scholarship, Eduarda considers her relationship with Paka to be a source of inspiration: “Their words and motivation that they bring us every year, is very important for our development,” she reflects.

Now Eduarda believes she is capable of making a difference, “I feel that Cusco is not my limit. I have more dreams and goals every month and every year. I also feel that Paka has given me a lot of motivational support to persevere and keep dreaming.” Eduarda now hopes to move to Lima after graduation, where she can pursue further education and one day become a diplomat and represent Peru.

Eduarda's message to the Paka community

"The Paka community has been a blessing for many women here in Cusco. If you are currently supporting this campaign, thank you very much because you are not only buying good material, but you are also helping Peruvian women reach their full potential. Because of you, we can have a better quality of education and quality of life. Thank you very much."

Melany, one of our Paka scholars sitting in the grass and smiling

Meet Melany

Melany Samara Rosas Salgado studies business management in Cusco. In her free time, she loves to sing, dance, and read books about her profession. When we asked her what it means to her to have the support of the Paka community, she told us, “It means I have hope and motivation to keep dreaming. I feel I have the support and trust of thousands of people who believe that I can make my dreams come true.”

“My biggest dream,” Melany tells us, “is to be able to help more people, like you helped me.” She wants to exemplify what women are capable of doing – something she feels is underestimated in Peru. She has big dreams for women in Peru: “I once heard a teacher say that Peru represents 0.5% of the world’s economy, and that if Peru disappeared, it would not affect anything. What I want to do is to show that this can be changed, that with small modifications, with education, and dreams and empowerment, you can change the world.”

Melany's message to the Paka community

"Thank you for trusting in our dreams. Thank you for being people who – even if you don't know me in person - know that I am going to achieve my dreams. And thank you for giving me motivation, for contributing to a change, especially here in Peru."

Gisella hugging Jennifer, one of our Paka scholars

Meet Jennifer

"Jennifer has left quite an impression on me," said Gisella. Her openness and candor are brave and wise beyond her years. At 21 years old, Jennifer is studying Psychology in the hopes of improving mental health care for the people of Peru: “I would like to work in community health centers to be able to help many people who don't have access to mental health services. In our country, mental health is a topic that is hardly touched on, but we should all care about it. I would like to help those people who cannot access these services, because sometimes mental health is a privilege. In our country, not many people seek help. I believe that being able to listen to a person can save a life,” said Jennifer.

Since the lifetime prevalence of one mental disorder per Peruvian is 29%, building resources for those in need is essential to the country’s success. Jennifer is diligently working to make a difference in the Psychology field to impact those around her. She is also a beautiful poet and uses her poetry to work through her own struggles internally. She credits her time as a scholar as the reason she’s so motivated to help others.

Jennifer's message to the Paka community

"I also want to thank the buyers of Paka who not only support other people economically, but who also have a great social responsibility. I am very grateful, and so is my family, because thanks to you, I can continue to dream and make my dreams come true. I know that at some point, I will also be able to share the love that you have given me and the fact that you have supported me in my dreams. Thank you very much."

Our Paka team and our scholars smiling in Cusco Our Paka team and our scholars smiling in Cusco
Our Paka team and our scholars smiling in Cusco Our Paka team and our scholars smiling in Cusco

The real impact has just begun

Each scholar represents how a small contribution on a group level can have lasting impacts. Through our efforts as a community, we hope to create a tidal wave of momentum. It’s your support that allows us to actualize it. On this Giving Tuesday, and on every day, we appreciate you supporting these scholars through purchases of Paka. Thank you for enabling their abilities to make a difference in Peru.

Paka scholar Lady Diana holding her degree diploma Paka scholar Lady Diana holding her degree diploma

Paka Scholar Leydi Diana just received her title as a licensed professional in tourism from the National University in Cusco.

Paka scholar Thilcia holding her degree diploma with her family in front of the Universidad Andina del Cusco Paka scholar Thilcia holding her degree diploma with her family in front of the Universidad Andina del Cusco

Paka Scholar Thilcia recently graduated from law school at the Universidad Andina in Cusco. She is beginning her work at a law firm.