Having left their far away communities to study in Iquitos, indigenous students face multiple challenges. Building an indigenous student centre will guarantee their basic necessities and living conditions, and provide tools to adequately pursue higher education in the city. The students are organized in OEPIAP, an organization representing over 120 indigenous youth from 15 Amazonian peoples in the Peruvian Amazon. This project will be delivered with OEPIAP's local partner Instituto Chaikuni.
Access to higher education is very difficult in Peru's Loreto region: 43% of Loreto's youth finishing high school and only 11% of those students being able to begin higher education. As an indigenous student, the hardships are all the greater due to their lack of financial resources, lower educational entry level, and the lack of intercultural sensitivity from the university. Basic services such as accommodation and study spaces are inadequately provided for by the university.
The construction of a dedicated and permanent indigenous student centre will serve as a base for indigenous students in the city, providing adequate studying and living conditions. These headquarters will also empower OEPIAP to strengthen its management and strategic development as an organization, thus leading to more opportunities and therefore more success for indigenous youth who are the future of the Amazon.
Individually, students will reach their potential as professionals, and be empowered to work in the city or to return home and support their communities. Collectively, the empowerment of OEPIAP will pave the way for future generations of indigenous youth to progress on to higher education. This cultivates a vital community supporting the next generation of indigenous professionals and leaders who will become key advocates for their rights and culture throughout the Amazon and beyond.