Diego Garcia Montúfar '09 Honored for
Public Health Initiative in Peruvian Amazon
by Alisa Giardinelli
Diego Garcia Montúfar '09
Diego Garcia Montúfar '09, a philosophy and sociology/anthropology major from Lima, Peru, used his Lang Opportunity Grant to establish a waste management and sustainability program in San Francisco de Yarinacocha, the largest Shipibo community in the Peruvian Amazon. Although such work usually takes time to yield tangible results, two awards confirm that his program, San Francisco Saludable (Healthy San Francisco), is on the right track.
This spring, the program was one of three organizations to win "Designing for Better Health," a competition that promotes enterprising solutions to challenges that affect health and health care in the U.S. and across the globe. The competition, co-sponsored by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and Ashoka's Changemakers, drew 285 entries from 29 countries. San Francisco Saludable also received a Clinton Global Initiative Outstanding Commitment Award, which supports innovative, high-impact commitments to improve communities and lives around the world.
Diego now plans on expanding the group's work beyond San Francisco. "Many authorities from neighboring communities have expressed interest in starting their own project with our help," he says. "With the young leaders we've trained in San Francisco, we are now ready to share our knowledge with them."
"San Francisco Saludable combines sanitation and nutrition in a single initiative," Diego says. "Our waste management program produces compost for family gardens."
Ultimately, Diego plans to set up a non-profit to focus on responsible resource management and culturally appropriate development strategies. "The recent conflict in the Peruvian Amazon revealed that its inhabitants are longing for the development of their region, but they want to be included in the process," he says. "I think the work we started in San Francisco - waste management and resource recovery - is a necessary starting point for development in these Amazonian communities."
Eugene M. Lang Opportunity Scholarship grants are awarded each year to as many as six members of the sophomore class who are selected by a special committee on the basis of distinguished academic and extracurricular achievement and demonstrated commitment to civic and social responsibility. Stipends are based on financial need and take the form of full grants up to the amount of total College charges. Each Lang Scholar is also eligible for a paid summer internship, funds for educational enhancement, and a budget of up to $10,000 to support a service project which, in the opinion of the staff of the Lang Center for Civic and Social Responsibility, will facilitate social change in a significant way. Scholars whose final projects are completed are eligible for a fellowship of $10,000 for graduate study, payable at $5,000 per year for each year of graduate school up to two years. The Opportunity Scholars Program is made possible by the gift of Eugene M. Lang '38.