Promoting ethical Latin American products in Australia

Seeds of a global community

Santiago Mejia alpani global community yaku model

GABRIELA GALLARDO | OCT 2016

To talk about ALPANI is to talk about effort, community, strong determination, and hope.  As explained in our Yaku Model, ALPANI is a non-profit organisation founded in 2011 with a very ambitious goal: to tackle children’s chronic malnutrition in Peru.

In 2013, I got involved with ALPANI as a volunteer and visited its first Nutritional Community Centre called “Pakarina” located in the AAHH Virgen de la Candelaria. In the local context, AAHH means human settlings, referring to the people from the country side who leave everything behind and move to harsh, deserted conditions closer to the capital city in search for better opportunities.

The community from AAHH Virgen de la Candelaria is a huge example of tenacity. The 300 families are organised by a committee that identifies the community’s high-priority needs and strives to address solutions with local resources.

The agreement between this community and ALPANI is amazing. They helped to build the Nutritional Community Center, while ALPANI provides ongoing training to women so they become community promoters that assist and educate families of children with high risk of malnutrition.

In the past 3 years, ALPANI and the community promoters have achieved positive and solid steps forward for the local community, providing assistance to 80 children aged 0-12 and reducing chronic malnutrition by 6.8%. Moreover, they have also achieved something truly remarkable for the community: women are now empowered through the influence of this project.

In my recent visit to this community centre in September 2016, many happy little smiles came running to hug me, and I was very happy and able to recognise some of them from 3 years ago. I also met with some community promoters who were talking with new mothers about the next training. One of them said “before being a community promoter, nobody knew about me. Now, everybody recognises me at the market. I feel proud of myself”. Another woman, whom I met in 2013, explained that her daughter had chronic malnutrition and she was a victim of domestic violence. She said: “I felt lost, alone and hopeless”. She then became a community promoter, and her daughter had totally recovered. I was totally moved to see her empowered. Through this initiative, ALPANI also gives these women a voice and an opportunity to give back to the community. It helps them realise that their life has a meaningful purpose and most important they feel valued.

I was pleased to explain to them that we are all a global community that looks after each other, and therefore, we all have a big mutual commitment: the mothers in taking proper care of their children; the community promoters in attending consistently every Friday; and ALPANI’s founder Gabi, in working hard to keep the project successfully going.

I told them that I’m not a stranger that comes here just to give a donation, but someone who truly belongs and believes in this whole project. I explained to them where Australia is, how those little children are our motivation to wake up at 4am for each market, and how we let our clients now about this project. Suddenly, these strong, humble and empowered women, blessed me and our Yaku Latin Goods project.

At the end, ALPANI’s founder Gabi, many community promoters and around 15 children and me, we all gathered together in a circle to unveil our symbolic donation: two height measurers to help keep track of childrens’ growth. It was a very special moment and everybody was happy. The kids made a queue to be measured while the Sun started to sink over the horizon in the Pacific Ocean. On the other side: Australia, Santi and Yaku Latin Goods - far away and yet part of that unique moment.

Lima - Peru, October 2016



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