We have known our friends Diana Morris and Wayne Lamphier since the mid-1990s when they came from Calgary, Canada, to live and work in Colombia and Ecuador. We were thrilled when they moved to Peru in 2003 to build their eco-lodge, the Lazy Dog Inn.
From their new home in Yurac Yacu, at the base of the Cordillera Blanca Mountains, this couple have committed themselves to working with their neighbors for environmentally sound, long-term community development.
Yurac Yacu lies 3650 meters above sea level and encompasses parts of two adjacent communities, Rivas and Cachipampa.
After building their eco-lodge by hand with the help of their neighbors, using all local materials, Wayne and Diana founded the Andean Alliance, a Peruvian-registered NGO based in the provincial capital city of Huaraz.
The success of all Andean Alliance projects is due largely to donations from people who have learned about Yurac Yacu and believe in what Wayne, Diana and their neighbors are working to achieve. All donations go directly to the various programs outlined by Andean Alliance.
Wayne first came to the area in the 1980s and fell in love with the mountains and the people. Focusing on the region for his graduate studies at the University of Calgary, he was involved in developing the first management plan for Huascarán National Park.
For decades, the region has been a favorite destination for mountain enthusiasts from around the world who come to climb and trek in the Cordillera Blanca mountains.
There are great untapped possibilities for tourism in the community.
Andean Alliance is focused on supporting grass roots community development, planning capabilities and implementing programs that strengthen the educational and economic base of Yurac Yacu while enhancing social and environmental conditions.
Living directly in the area gave Wayne and Diana the opportunity to work together with the residents of Yurac Yacu to identify the most pressing needs of the local community.
With the help of donations and volunteers, Wayne and Diana have worked hand-in-hand with their neighbors to create small businesses based on eco-tourism to draw income into the community. But to accomplish this goal, Yurac Yacu needed infrastructure. Andean Alliance has worked to upgrade the primary school, sponsor a lunch program, trained teachers and helped to bring electricity to the community.
A centerpiece of their project is the ongoing construction of the Yurac Yacu Community Business Center for Human Development.
The center will serve as a meeting space for training and educational programs, with a special focus on women and children. It will also include space for community members to run small tourism related businesses, such as a cafe and an expedition services office. There will also be a library/learning center with computers and internet access.