Every January since 2014, roughly 30 young Peruvian women walk as many as 10 hours to gather in Urubamba, a village located just south of the Incan sanctuary of Machu Picchu in Peru’s Sacred Valley. The women, whose average age is 18, make the long journey to participate in the Visionary Leadership Institute.
They come to gain an understanding of what it means to be a leader, to give that often ambiguous and rather large word a lucid and personal definition. Once that understand is made, these young Andean women form project teams to address the environmental and development-related issues that currently face their communities.
The idea is to empower the Visionarias by creating a network of local mentors, professors, and existing nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) with a foothold in Peru and then providing a forum for members of the network to come together and leverage their strengths. The Visionarias then design and implement projects to help their families and neighbors that can be readily supported by those groups. Projects take place across the Sacred Valley in cities like Ollantaytambo and Cusco, as well as small villages like Coya and Pisaq. The project focus ranges from clean cookstoves, to solar energy, water filtration, and leadership training.
Through interaction, training, and classroom instruction, these young women grow into their own unique understandings of what exactly a Visionary is.
I aim to show how these young women have taken an active role in ensuring underrepresented, marginalized, often forgotten members of the community can contribute to the healthy, sustainable development of their own communities. To show that together, we're not alone. Or, at the very least, that we're all alone together.
It's important to note that they do this without remuneration or complication, and without any real agenda save the desire to give back. As such I hope to convey the this spirit of selflessness and community minded sustainable development through various outreach projects.
The final year of the Visionary Leadership Institute is next year.