Mariel Sanchez

Mariel is a graduate student at The Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University, focusing on human security and international development. She is originally from Mexico and has spent time studying in France and doing volunteer work in Costa Rica. Prior to her graduate studies, she was a case manager and legal representative at the YMCA International Services, a refugee resettlement agency in Houston, Texas. Her cases involved immigration relief for victims of crime, asylum seekers, and family reunification for refugees and other low-income immigrants. Before starting in immigration law, she worked for a disaster relief program, where she provided case management and direct assistance to hurricane survivors. She also has a bachelor’s degree in journalism from The University of Texas at Austin. This summer, she continued her work in the human rights field with EPAF, further exploring issues of transitional justice and post-conflict development. After the fellowship, she wrote: "The fellowship kept me very busy and I enjoyed having variety in the work. I liked being able to contribute practical skills in preparing a grant proposal and a marketing plan, while also having the opportunity to be creative in designing a website, writing AP blogs and making videos. For me, the best part about the fellowship was that I wasn’t just doing a job, but that everything I did had the greater benefit of supporting human rights. Also, working with the people of EPAF and learning the stories of the conflict directly from the victims were the most rewarding aspects." Contact: msanchez@advocacynet.org



Ekeko

18 Aug

Throughout my time in Peru I have encountered a mysterious figurine in the corners of people’s homes, at shop counters, and even at restaurants. He has a mustache and wears a traditional Andean wool hat and poncho. On the final day of the EPAF Field School, I finally learned who he is and what he means.

These small statues represent a character from Andine folklore called Ekeko. To various pre-Columbian cultures of the Andes, including the Inca, Ekeko was the god of abundance. In Peru today, people have Ekeko figurines because Ekeko is believed to bring good fortune.

People cannot buy an Ekeko for themselves; Ekekos have to be received as gifts from someone else. Out of belief or tradition, Peruvians hang on the Ekeko objects representing the things they want or need. I have seen Ekekos carrying dollar and other bills from people who want money; maps from people who wish to travel; and toys or pictures of cars, houses, food and other items according to people’s personal needs.

Yet Ekekos are not expected to grant any of those things unless their owners offer something in return. The offerings can take the form of actions, or can simply involve placing a cigarette or a drink on the Ekeko once a week for his enjoyment.

Ekeko picture Ekeko. Photo: Wikimedia Commons.

The Ekeko reflects the value of reciprocity firmly held in Quechua-speaking communities. In recent days, I’ve learned about other practices in the communities built on mutual aid, such as “ayni,” a type of collective work where members of the community help someone with harvesting or building a house, while the person receiving the help hosts the workers at his house and provides them meals.

Why does the Ekeko matter in a field school studying the period of armed conflict in Peru? We had a group discussion led by Rosalia Chauca, a psychologist who works with REDINFA (REDINFA is a Peruvian organization that supports the mental health recovery of families and children affected by political violence). She asked us to reflect on everything we did and witnessed during the field school, and think about what we would offer the Ekeko and what we want him to provide for the Ayacucho communities that endured the conflict.

I offered to listen to the villagers and try to make them feel heard and understood. In my interactions with victims of the violence and their families, I treated them with respect and dignity, which the government and even some human rights organizations neglect. I also offer to remember them, to continue to learn about their situation and share their stories upon my return home. My last offering is to use whatever skills I have to make sure strong advocates and supporters like EPAF and The Advocacy Project can continue and improve on their work.

In return, I have much more ambitious and challenging requests for the Ekeko. I would ask him to bring company to the people who have lost everyone they loved, especially the widows who have been shunned by their neighbors. I would also ask for ongoing funding and practical support to organizations like EPAF, which are sometimes alone in the search and identification of the disappeared and sometimes the only link the families of the disappeared have to the outside world. Additionally, I hope for the communities to have opportunities for progress and development. People have lived in extreme poverty for years, and have received inadequate assistance to be able to use their resources more effectively to grow their villages.

Above all, I wish internal and external peace for the communities. I hope they find relief and are able to heal from the events that still haunt them more than 20 years later; and also find peace with one another to end political and social tensions that can fuel further conflict.

With these thoughts in mind, I pose the same question to the readers of this and all other Peace Fellow blogs: What do you want for the beneficiary communities and the partner organizations of The Advocacy Project? What do you give in return to make these things happen?

I invite you to share your views on these questions. If you know of traditions similar to the Ekeko in other parts of the world, I’d also love to hear about them in the Comments section.

EPAF Field School - Lima, Peru On the last day of the field school, we put together a “quilt” reflecting our most gratifying experiences, most difficult moments, and the most important things we learned.
We also built our own Ekeko.

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Throughout my time in Peru I have encountered a mysterious figurine in the corners of people\u2019s homes, at shop counters, and even at restaurants. He has a mustache and wears a traditional Andean wool hat and poncho. On the final day of the EPAF Field School<\/a>, I finally learned who he is and what he means.<\/p>\r\n

These small statues represent a character from Andine folklore called Ekeko. To various pre-Columbian cultures of the Andes, including the Inca, Ekeko was the god of abundance. In Peru today, people have Ekeko figurines because Ekeko is believed to bring good fortune.<\/p>\r\n

People\u00a0cannot buy an Ekeko for themselves; Ekekos have to be received as gifts from someone else. Out of belief or tradition, Peruvians\u00a0hang on the Ekeko objects representing the things they want or need. I have seen Ekekos carrying dollar and other bills from people who want money; maps from people who wish to travel; and toys or pictures of cars, houses, food and other items according to people\u2019s personal needs.<\/p>\r\n

Yet Ekekos are not expected to grant any of those things unless their owners offer something in return. The offerings can take the form of actions, or can simply involve placing a cigarette or a drink on the Ekeko once a week for his enjoyment.<\/p>\r\n

\"Ekeko<\/a> Ekeko. Photo: Wikimedia Commons.<\/em><\/p>\r\n

The Ekeko reflects the value of reciprocity firmly held in Quechua-speaking communities. In recent days, I’ve\u00a0learned about other practices in the communities built on mutual aid, such as \”ayni,\” a type of collective work where members of the community help someone with harvesting or building a house, while the person receiving the help hosts the workers at his house and provides them meals.<\/p>\r\n

Why does the Ekeko matter in a field school studying the period of armed conflict in Peru? We had a group discussion led by Rosalia Chauca, a psychologist who works with REDINFA (REDINFA is a Peruvian organization that supports the mental health recovery of families and children affected by political violence). She asked us to reflect on everything we did and witnessed during the field school, and think about what we would offer the Ekeko and what we want him to provide for the Ayacucho communities\u00a0that endured the conflict.<\/p>\r\n

I offered to listen to the villagers and try to make them feel heard and understood. In my interactions with victims of the violence and their families, I treated them with respect and dignity, which the government and even some human rights organizations neglect. I also offer to remember them, to continue to learn about their situation and share their stories upon my return home. My last offering is to use whatever skills I have to make sure strong advocates and supporters like EPAF and The Advocacy Project can continue and improve on their work.<\/p>\r\n

In return, I have much more ambitious and challenging requests for the Ekeko. I would ask him to bring company to the people who have lost everyone they loved, especially the widows who have been shunned by their neighbors. I would also ask for ongoing funding and practical support to organizations like EPAF, which are sometimes alone in the search and identification of the disappeared and sometimes the only link the families of the disappeared have to the outside world. Additionally, I hope for the communities to have opportunities for progress and development. People have lived in extreme poverty for years, and have received inadequate assistance to be able to use their resources more effectively to grow their villages.<\/p>\r\n

Above all, I wish internal and external peace for the communities. I hope they find relief and are able to heal from the events that still haunt them more than 20 years later; and also find peace with one another to end political and social tensions that can fuel further conflict.<\/p>\r\n

With these thoughts in mind, I pose the same question to the readers of this and all other Peace Fellow blogs: What do you want for the beneficiary communities and the partner organizations of The Advocacy Project? What do you give in return to make these things happen?<\/p>\r\n

I invite you to share your views on these questions. If you know of traditions similar to the Ekeko in other parts of the world, I\u2019d also love to hear about them in the Comments section.<\/p>\r\n

\"EPAF<\/a> On the last day of the field school, we put together a \”quilt\” reflecting our most gratifying experiences, most difficult moments, and the most important things we learned.\r\n<\/em>We also built our own Ekeko.<\/em><\/p>“}]}[/content-builder]

Posted By Mariel Sanchez

Posted Aug 18th, 2015

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