Engineering a way to conserve the culture of Peru’s Uros Islands

Municipal Vice President Rue Sueña Quispe, Secretary Iver Vilca Lujano and Speaker Gregorio Vilca Coila meet on the community island to discuss BYU's latest water filtration expansion. The community's religious devotion is evident by the artwork on the walls of the municipal hall.

Uros municipal officials meet to discuss how BYU’s latest water filtration project will affect their day-to-day lives.

A tiny Peruvian woman wakens long before the 5 a.m. sunrise, tiptoeing around her family’s darkened hut to get dressed. She opens the door and twilight creeps in, clinging to her kaleidoscopic ensemble: a vibrant pink, ankle-length skirt and a loud yellow cardigan embroidered with flowers and zigzags. She defers donning her straw hat until later, leaving her sun-scarred nose and cheeks exposed.

As she steps outside, Dora Jallahui Vilca’s feet sink slightly into the dewy ground, the hewn reeds bending with her weight. Like the tens of thousands of residents — ancient and modern — who have been born, lived and died over the centuries on this man-made island, she gives little thought to the lake beneath her feet.

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BYU grad rescues child sex slaves

Tim Ballard speaks with Universe staff about his new non-profit organization aimed at fighting child sex slavery. (Photo by Elliot Miller)

Tim Ballard speaks with Universe staff about his new non-profit organization aimed at fighting child sex slavery. (Photo by Elliot Miller)

A team of former Navy Seals and CIA operatives splash beer on their faces as they prepare to play the part of American sex tourists. They’ll have to maintain laser-sharp focus as they engage in negotiations with some of the world’s dirtiest criminals.

One suspicious move or remark could put their whole team at risk and prevent the rescue of dozens of innocent children.

This team, known as Operation Underground Railroad, works to prosecute child sex traffickers and to rescue the victims. Heading the team is Tim Ballard — a husband, a father of six children and a BYU alumnus.

Ballard has run multiple sting operations in Colombia, the Dominican Republic, Guatemala, Haiti, Nicaragua and the United States, all since he founded the organization in January. Ballard worked undercover as a government agent for 12 years before founding Operation Underground Railroad but is now speaking out to raise awareness about 21st-century slavery.

Read the full story on The Daily Universe.