It all started with a simple request in August of 2006 from a sweet couple from Oregon who wished to do a homestay in one of the Sacred Valley’s more authentic weaving communities. As the providers of custom-made vacation experiences, we were off and running with the research and planning almost as soon as the request came in. Little did we know at the time that it would lead to our proudest achievement to date, The Kuoda Association.
Kuoda Travel Founder Mery Calderon started the search in Chinchero, a well-known hub for traditional weavers of the valley looking to sell their handicrafts to tourists passing through. Through conversation with some of the weavers there she walked away with a list of potential communities for this Oregon couple to stay.
In the weeks that followed, Mery made repeated trips to the communities on her list, eventually landing on Umasbamba as the perfect fit. As a community previously unexposed to tourism, the idea of having a couple of foreigners spend a few days in their home took some warming up to and fortunately they came around to the idea because…
What eventually unfolded between the Oregon couple and this community was pure magic. Because their experience was so incredible, both Mery and the couple wanted to do something to give back to the community of Umasbamba. The couple sent farming tools and Mery sent school supplies.
Later that year, Mery went back to Umasbamba to find the textbooks she gifted on roofs and behind houses, as weathered as they were unused. She needed another plan, another way to give back that would actually provide value for them.
After some thought, she realized what they really needed was a tutor and a place to do their homework after school. In June 2007, the Andean Children’s Learning Center opened its doors and the Kuoda Association officially began.
Today, the Association has grown to include a multi-community computer project as well as regular immersive community experiences for tourists to give back and interact with local communities. Our plans for the future include additional and more tailored support for the students of Umasbamba frequenting the Learning Center and some new and improved computer course offerings in more communities across the Sacred Valley. Our mission for the Association is to help these communities to help themselves by providing them with a solid foundation to go after any goals and dream they set for themselves.