Most people celebrate birthdays as special occasions. In Peru, birthday celebrations extend to major civic entities. October 29th marked the 139th anniversary of the incorporation of Ollantaytambo (the town where Sacred Valley Health/ Ayni Wasi is headquartered). Much like any other birthday party, Ollantaytambo’s included all of its friends, namely the other communities within the district. Together, the citizens of Ollantaytambo and surrounding towns and villages partook in traditional dances, concerts, and even a float parade. The anniversary program lasted five days and not only built civic pride, but also provided a venue for resurrecting the storied customs and history of the region.
Among the plethora of activities, the principal tradition is the parade that occurs on the actual anniversary of the municipality’s incorporation. Representatives of every civic entity in the district march through Ollantaytambo’s Plaza de Armas (the town’s central plaza) dressed in finery and carrying banners. Groups representing everything from schools to public works projects wear matching uniforms and hold signs proclaiming their contributions.
The Sacred Valley Health/ Ayni Wasi family, including all staff, volunteers, promotoras (community health workers) and host families, partook of this spectacle and tradition. Our participation symbolized the organization’s commitment to promoting health care access and quality in the district. Sporting matching t-shirts designed by former volunteer Stewart Decker and with each promotora holding a sign to represent her village, the Ayni Wasi team proudly marched through the plaza as announcers thanked us for our support.
The event was memorable for everyone and our participation symbolized Ayni Wasi’s continued commitment to being present and active in the district. With this anniversary complete, many of us are already looking forward to next year’s chance to march through the town square.
– Written by Daniel Alvarez