What is Moche?

"MOCHE, Inc. (Mobilizing Opportunity through Community Heritage Empowerment Incorporated) is a not for profit organization dedicated to improving the standard of living in impoverished communities, preserving archaeological sites, and promoting research and education on the rich cultural heritage of Peru"

What are the four Moche initiatives?

  1. Preservation

  2. Water & Sanitation

  3. Health

  4. Education

What is the preservation initiative?

"MOCHE's goal is to preserve the 10 most endangered archaeological sites in the Moche Vally in the next 10 years. We are well on our way!

MOCHE protects these sites, to preserve the valuable information that they provide into how the people before us lived, farmed, built empires and died. We are in the process of mapping, formalizing (legally with the Peruvian Ministry of Culture) and protecting four distinct community preserves, with the buy-in and assistance of more than 8 communities.

We work with community members to prevent illegal squatting on the site by individual families, mining companies and international agribusinesses.  Additionally these communities apply pressure and help the Ministry of Culture prevent local looters from desecrating grave yards or looting prehistoric households, ceremonial centers and administrative structures.  Though we construct boundary markers and signs, the single most important part are the communities themselves.  They notify the local authorities when illegal activities are taking place and together we are making significant progress.

Our long-term goal is to turn these sites into economic opportunities for the local community members, tapping into the multimillion dollar a year cultural tourism industry in nearby Trujillo.  Paths and sign posts with local guides and artisan co-ops are a few of the early initiatives.  Additionally, family businesses like sites and restaurants will be able to benefit from such development and opportunity."

What is the Water & Sanitation Initiative?

"This initiative grew out of our first major project in Peru.  The partner community of Ciudad de Dios wanted a water system that would capture potable water from an underground spring up valley.  We worked with Engineers without Borders, Duke Engage, the town of Ciudad and many volunteers to implement a 3km long piped water system.

To follow that up we started a VIP latrine project that aimed to protect the sources of fresh water and improve overall sanitation and health in the community.  After a pilot program, we got to work and now most willing members of the community have the option for a private and dignified necessity.

Both of these programs grew and today we have surveyed the water and sanitation systems of many of our partner communities, assisted in construction of or improvement on 3 different water systems and we are always working with new and old partners to address the problems of water and sanitation in the middle Moche valley."

What is the Health Initiative?

"Over the years many of our partner communities have inquired about health-related programs.  This is because in the middle valley there is just one small health clinic (a Posta de Salud) in the town of Menocucho.  This clinic does provide some basic health services but it is only open sporadically and it can be difficult to access care. If the local people cannot access care from this clinic they must take public transportation into Laredo or Trujillo.


Regional Health Clinic Construction

The health clinic has recently completed its first phase of construction.  It is located on a plot of land donated by the large town of Bello Horizonte in the center of the middle Moche Valley.  The clinic has been approved by the district government and the design and structure has been approved by the Ministry of Health.  The next step is to parle this recognition into staffing by the national Ministry of Health.  As part of the medical training system in Peru, all physicians must do a few rotations in underserved areas such as the middle valley.  We are working to get this new clinic staffed.

Currently the clinic consists of two consult rooms, a triage room and a bank of bathrooms.  Once we can get this staffed and operational, we will work with Bello Horizonte, the district of Laredo and the Ministry of Health to implement phase 2 and 3 of construction.  These phases will add an additional consult room, a dental office, a pharmacy, additional bathrooms, a waiting area and storage facilities


Annual Health Fairs

As a way to assist in providing some level of care immediately, we have organized a number of health fairs each year for the past 5 years.  To run these fairs, we recruit volunteer Peruvian healthcare providers from Trujillo and Laredo and usher them to the middle valley where they run day-long clinics, available to all local people at no cost.  We typically have an internal medicine physician, obstetrician, mental health and social welfare counselors, hygiene professionals, a nurse, a pharmacist and a fantastic dental crew run by a professor at the University of Trujillo.  Our volunteers assist in the design and implementation of the the fair and they run educational booths that are specific to important local topics and distribute free give-aways such as tooth brushes, antibacterial hand soap, fliers and information brochures."

What is the Education Initiative?

"We are proud to announce our new education initiative.  We have always worked with local schools and schoolchildren as a way to foster intercultural relations but we are now expanding this effort.  We have identified a number of pattern schools in the middle valley that we have partnered with to conduct cultural heritage education classes.  Peru does not have an official heritage curriculum and many of the people who live in these areas have not had much exposure to the cultures that dominated the landscape before the Spanish arrived.  We are working within the settings these partner schools to implement a short, multi-day heritage education curriculum.  The curriculum has been pilot tested and consist of an introduction to the prehistory, iconography and mythology of the Moche and pre-Moche civilizations.

Additionally, we are happy to announce a possible growing partnership with education department at Wagner College.  They are interested in working with underserved and special needs children who have not accessed appropriate services in the middle valley."

If I volunteer with Moche, what city would I be volunteering in?

Huanchaco, Peru

All About Huanchaco, Peru:

Just a few kilometers north of Trujillo, the third largest city in Peru, Huanchaco is a pleasant fishing village and beach resort that has a lot to offer local and international tourists.  The town has been continuously used as a fishing village since before Spanish arrival in South America.   With the main road running parallel to the beach, and ever increasing numbers of restaurants, surf shops and artisans stalls, Huanchaco is becoming a nationally recognized vacation spot. The beachfront is also the location of the famous Caballitos de totora, the traditional reed fishing crafts that are thought to have inspired the modern sport of surfing.

Free Time
After dinner is free time. Socializing, reading, the beach, music, and night clubs are the main options for after-hours entertainment. Be sure to bring some books and music. The ocean is typically too cold for swimming, though some students take surfing lessons, which include the board and a body suit. Huanchaco is a quiet beach resort and fishing village with a population of about 20,000. June and July are the off season for tourism here; it‘s the Peruvian winter from April through September.  On Saturday we have tours of major archaeological sites in the valley. We definitely do NOT leave at 7:00. Rather we generally leave after a hot lunch and spend a few hours touring a site. Sunday is free time. Weekends are a good time to check out Trujillo. The city was founded in 1535. Much of early Spanish architecture is still preserved in the center of the city. Mayorista, a sprawling market near the center of town, also is worth a visit. Theaters in Trujillo show current US movies in English with Spanish subtitles, and there are clubs with live music. Buses and colectivos (vans) run every 15 or 20 minutes between Huanchaco. One way fare is about 10 or 20 cents. A taxi ride costs a couple bucks. At the end of the field school we will travel up the north coast to El Brujo, Túcume, and the Museum of the Royal Tombs of the Lord of Sipán. These sites are world renown for their important archaeological discoveries, including the burials of the Señora de Cao and the Lord of Sipán, as well as some of the most spectacular adobe pyramids in South America.

Calling home from Peru is cheap and easy. In addition to Skype at internet cafes, there are phone exchanges in Huanchaco and Trujillo, where calls to the US cost 10 cents a minute (however these have become harder to find with the prevalence of WiFi at cafés, hotels and bars around town). Email is the best way to stay in touch. There are several internet cafés in Huanchaco and our typical lodging location, El Hospedaje Casona, has had WiFi available for free in the past(this is not a guarantee). Email access is less than 40 cents for an hour at internet cafés. Mail is not recommended. You can have letters sent to Correo Central, Trujillo, La Libertad, Peru (that’s general delivery) or the Correo Central, Huanchaco, La Libertad. However, letters take at least 10 to 14 days to reach Peru.

Huanchaco has good, cheap laundry services. They charge by the kilo. Typically, 5 to 10 dollars per week should cover you unless you go through a lot of cloths. You should bring enough clothing to go one week without washing clothes.  Bring some warm clothes for evenings and nights as well as summer clothes (shorts, t-shirts, and a swim suit for the beach). Huanchaco is cool and damp in the summer with typical temperatures ranging from 45-75 degrees with varying amounts of sunshine.

Peruvian electric current is 220 volts, not the US 110. You’ll need to buy a converter (available at Radio Shack, Best Buy) to run any electrical gadgets you bring down. Batteries are readily available.  Power in Huanchaco has become more reliable in recent years, but a flashlight for the possibility of outages may be a good idea.

Drinking water, soft drinks, beer etc.
The project will provide an abundant supply of purified drinking water; tap water is not safe for drinking. Soft drinks (all the major brands) and beer can be purchased at local stores. The drinking age in Peru is 18.

Information taken from Moche.  For more information on Moche, visit http://savethemoche.org/index/