October 16, 2019

Peru Mennonite school breaks ground for new building as Quechua culture draws box-office attention

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On September 15, El Colegio PROMESA Menonita broke ground for the construction of a new academic facility. On September 15, El Colegio PROMESA Menonita broke ground for the construction of a new academic facility. Pamela Guevara/Iglesia Evangélica Menonita León de Judá

SAN JERÓNIMO, Peru — While Quechua culture has garnered the attention of American audiences with the recent film “Dora and the Lost City of Gold,” one Mennonite school in Peru has worked quietly to educate Peruvian children and protect their culture for nearly 15 years.

In the shadow of the live-action adventure film that features the Cusco-Collao dialect of the Quechua language, El Colegio PROMESA Menonita made a little more “noise” as they broke ground for the construction of a new academic facility.

On September 15, León de Judá, a local Mennonite church, highlighted the momentous occasion on Facebook with several photos and the statement: “Giving initiated God’s great promise. The construction of the PROMESA Mennonite School started” (translated from
Spanish).

In August, pastors David Quispe and Roberto Mosquerra, along with Michael Hostetter, an Eastern Mennonite Missions (EMM) regional representative for South America, traveled to the village of Limatambo to purchase a bulldozer and backhoe.

Quispe, who also serves as the president of Iglesia Evangélica Menonita del Perú (the Peruvian Evangelical Mennonite Church), said, “We are happy that we can finally start with this wonderful work. We do it in faith, sure that God will provide until the end” (translated from Spanish).

The equipment needed for excavation had been purchased from Casa del Aguila, a nonprofit organization in the nearby village.

“It was very exciting ... a huge breakthrough and answer to prayer!” said EMM Strategic Coach Beth Gibbs, who served with EMM in Cusco, Peru, for 13 years. Gibbs and her husband, Steve, also serve as LMC’s international partner delegates to Iglesia Evangélica Menonita del Perú.

The continued growth of the school has contributed to the need for the construction of a new facility, which was designed by volunteers from Engineering Ministries International.

Although originally founded to meet the needs of the Quechua children in the Cusco area, the enrollment of the school has grown to nearly 300, with both Quechua- and Spanish-speaking students.

Living in Peru and several adjacent countries, the Quechua people are the indigenous inhabitants of this region. Speaking the language of the ancient Inca Empire, the Quechua people play an important role in preserving the history of South America.

The Quechua people have faced discrimination in Peruvian society for centuries and continue to do so in modernity. Adding to that discrimination is the disenfranchisement of evangelical Christian children in Peruvian schools.

In 2005, Iglesia Evangélica Menonita del Perú, with the help of EMM workers Ron and Regina Shultz, founded this bilingual school for Quechua children facing discrimination.

EMM and Steep Adventures partnered together to host the Peru Trek for PROMESA in 2017, an adventure fundraising excursion which raised more than $58,000 for the school. Ten trekkers solicited donations from sponsors and then embarked on a 61-mile journey through the Ausangate Trek in the Andes Mountains of Peru.

At the conclusion of the expedition, the trekkers had the incredible opportunity to meet the students at the school. Two years later, there is a lot of excitement as the school prepares for this new chapter.

Michelle Deller, the founder of Steep Adventures, and leader of the trek said, “Our hike was so rewarding, and it’s made sweeter now seeing the work begin on the road to the new PROMESA school.”

Gibbs explained that in order for the construction of the building to begin, significant work needs to be done to the site, including building a road and bridge to the site.

Site preparation and phase one of the construction plan will cost about $300,000. Excavation and construction will continue as funds are available.

You can support Peruvian students by helping to give access to discrimination-free Christian education. Gifts for PROMESA can be made online at emm.org/promesa.