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It is a situation that is all too common all across Peru. Residents from rural towns migrate to larger cities to find better educational and employment opportunities. In the case of residents from the Haquira District of Apurimac, Peru, the internal armed conflict also contributed heavily to this steady stream of migrants that left their hometowns. Adapting to a new way of life can often take a heavy toll on local customs and traditions. While the approximately 1,000 local residents from this region, who now live in the capital city of Lima, have made the effort to preserve some of these customs, such as replicating traditional festivals and maintaing the practice of communal labor, sustaining their native language of Quechua in an urban setting has not been as successful.
The project Llaqtaypa Riymaynin (Voices of my Community) led by Irma Alvarez Ccoscco aims to use technology and citizen media to revitalize the language in this urban community. As she wrote in her application, “I have learned that the Quechua language is of vital importance to its speakers in urban context because it is a way to sustainable identity.” Alvarez, in addition to tirelessly working with the translation of free software applications into the Quechua language, was one of the creators of the Hablemos Quechua (@hablemosquechua) Twitter account.
In partnership with Escuelab, a technology and collaborative learning center in Lima, the project will identify young people from these communities, who have an interest in strengthening their ties with the Quechua language through the use of participatory media. Through the use of the free software Audacity, a free and open-source digital audio editor and recording application, the participants will record programs and short stories in the Quechua language. These podcasts will be uploaded online, as well as shared with community radio stations serving this community.
An eventual goal is to return to these villages with examples of this effort to revitalize the language despite living hundreds of kilometers away. Alvarez adds that the hope is that “the migrants would find their identity and first language in ICT mediums and what could be better than facilitating them to speak for themselves.”