Snapshot project: Q'ochamoqo
ABOUT THE PROJECT
Katie Hebson and her two young daughters partnered with Willka Yachay to do a 100cameras Snapshot Project high in the remote mountain village Q'ochamoqo, Peru with girls from the Q’ero nation. Located at 14,500 feet above sea level in the snow-capped Cordillera Vilcanota range, there are over 2,000 people who lie in the nation’s fourteen villages, spread across many river valleys.
Willka Yachay (W.Y.) is a non-profit organization dedicated to helping indigenous communities thrive in the modern world. They are empowering the next generation of the Q’eros nation of Peru to become leaders who elevate their standard of living, guide their community toward sustainable modernity and revitalize their cultural identity. Together with the Q’eros, they build and sustain schools along with providing solar programs, a weaving cooperative, music and cultural preservation projects, food and water security, mother and infant care, and a medical center.
The Q’eros people are known as the wisdom keepers of the Andes. Considered to be the “ultimo ally inka” or the last Incan community of Peru, the Q’eros strive to preserve and promote their indigenous ethnic and cultural identity. Q’eros live a hardworking life at one with nature, traveling between three different ecosystems that span all the way from snowy peaks down to ceja de selva “the eyebrow of the jungle”. They raise llamas and alpacas at the highest altitudes; descend to grow potatoes and raise sheep; and descend further to grow corn, squash and other vegetables, and to harvest bamboo and wood for buildings, looms and flutes. Despite the harsh conditions to which they are exposed, and a history as targets of discrimination and marginalization, the Q’eros people endure. Willka Yachay helps them thrive.
100% of proceeds from the students' photo sales will go directly back to their community. Based on the current needs of the organization, the proceeds raised will help Willka Yachay fund educational projects in the future.
Snapshot Project Q'ochamoqo was powered by our friends at ONA.
ABOUT THE SNAPSHOT PROJECT LEADERS
Katie Hebson traveled to Q’eros with her two daughters as her adventurous assistants by her side. The students in the Snapshot Project were all girls between 10 to 15 years old. Each class was held outside in the fresh air and sunshine by spreading blankets on the hillside.The girls showed up each day with twinkling eyes and brilliant smiles, enthusiastic and eager to learn something new each class. What struck Katie the most was how much sheer joy they had taking photographs and looking at the images. Always giggling and shining!
Communicating in Spanish some but mostly through translation by their trusted host who ensured everything was understood in Quechea, their native language. The girls of Q’eros exhibited a
calmness and serenity and were deeply in sync with each other and their surroundings. Their hearts are wide open with a profound sweetness that was striking; affectionate with us from the beginning by holding our hands and sitting close to us. On the last evening, a slideshows of the students’ images taken during the project were projected at the community center along with a short film that was taken earlier that day of a traditional Incan ceremony. It was a celebration that was greatly enjoyed by all! An exhibit will later be held by Willka Yachay’s director to showcase the photographs taken by the participants and to celebrate their success, empowering them through the power of seeing their work showcased in print and displayed for their entire community.
STUDENT IMAGE GALLERY
Follow us on social media to see images from the field as captured by Katie and the student photographers.