Learnings and thoughts about our Online Kids Program

The 15th of March the Peruvian Government declared the state of emergency and the quarantine started nationwide. A hundred and six days later, the mandatory lockdown was lifted in most parts of Perú and things have started slowly going back to normal. But not for everyone. 

Kids younger than 15 years old must remain in quarantine and are only allowed to go outside for an hour to exercise or take a walk in the company of at least one adult. 

As you might already know, a few months ago we decided at LLI to keep supporting our participants and families during these difficult times by providing them with educational resources — please read The Challenge of Education During a World Health Crisis to learn more about this. The main goal was not just to keep our children busy and mentally stimulated but also to support their families who have been in charge of their education for several months, sometimes with no time or materials, and mostly with scarce or even without any professional guidance.

On May 14, our online Kids Program officially started, launching a series of 3 classes per week with resources in art, English, science, yoga and reading. Families signed up to be part of it and our Education Manager was in charge of sending the materials every week and also receiving all the kids’ homework and keeping track of their progress. 

Two months later, it is time to evaluate our work and prepare ourselves to continue providing online classes until we can restart our on-site programs. 

Want to see the results? Keep reading!

Let’s check the numbers!!

We have a total of 60 participants who took at least one class per week. Not everyone had the chance to join every class, but 86% of the participants attended our classes at least twice a week.

More than the 50% of our online participants were going to public schools before the quarantine started and 30% of the total received few or any educational materials and support from their school.

Approximately 30% of our participants followed the educational virtual program “Aprendo en Casa”, designed and launched by the peruvian government to continue educating the youth during the lockdown. Even 2% had to follow the classes through radio. 

All of the parents’ participants expressed in the survey their concerns about their children’s education and their interest in continuing it during the quarantine. However not every family had the time, the knowledge or the resources to do so. 

For example, 43% of these families do not have a home library for their kids.

When we asked the families how the Online Kids Program helped them during the quarantine, 33% of them mentioned that LLI’s online classes helped them a lot to learn english. Also 7% stated the classes improved their connection with their kids and helped them to create spaces to learn and do things in family. 

To conclude, the majority of the families affirmed that their kids really enjoyed the materials and 100% of them would sign up for the online kids program again. 

Even though adapting our curriculums to the online format, specifically WhatsApp -which is not a platform created for educational purposes- was a challenge, looking at these numbers now we could safely say it was totally worth it. 

Working with children is very important to us because it is one of the most vulnerable groups in our society, especially in communities like Huaycan with so limited resources. Finding ways to support our participants and their families can be hard sometimes and this is why we will always work tirelessly to find a way to keep accompanying and supporting this community. And  because we believe education is everything.

We are always looking for talented and passionate volunteers to help us with this titanic task, does this sound interesting to you? Details below.

Volunteer with us!

If you value education as much as we do and are interested in supporting LLI, you can always become part of our volunteer team. We are recruiting volunteers for our 2021 programs! Book now your volunteer time with us and help us build our educational programs. 

You can’t come to Peru but you would still like to help? There are many ways to support us from far away!

  1. Become a monthly donor! Join our Alpaca Club and help us continue bringing high quality education opportunities to Huaycan’s community. 
  2. Remote volunteer with us! We are looking for volunteers and interns who can help us from any part of the world.
  3. Shop Huaywasi! By buying Huaywasi you are supporting not just our amazing artisans but also our programs! Have you checked their summer collection??

Why should we keep “Reflecting Civically”?

At LLI, we started facilitating Civic Reflection Discussions (CRD) for our local and international volunteers more than six years ago. We knew -and we know- that the process of ethical volunteerism starts questioning your role as a volunteer and it was our responsibility as an organization to facilitate that process among our team. For us, Civic Reflections were the perfect way to initiate the conversation.

For just about every month over the past several years we met and talked, and shared and felt awkward sometimes, and even may have wondered “What’s the point of all this?”. Then we’d repeat it the next month and the month after, and we will repeat it again and again until our work is done here. We’d slowly gain more perspective on our work at LLI, a stronger understanding of others’ points of view, and a higher understanding of difference.

We realized that CRDs are tools to keep learning and unlearning through community thinking, conversations and, even more importantly, through listening to others.

By this point you might be thinking what the heck is a civic reflection and why are we so obsessed with it. ¡Sigue leyendo!

What is a Civic Reflection Discussion and what is it for?

For us, Civic Reflection Discussions are those spaces we create in and out of LLI to evaluate and critically think about us as an organization and as volunteers working in a foreign country like Peru. 

The purpose is to reflect on civic engagement on a variety of levels and topics. This challenges our staff, volunteers and other community members to examine how we think, why we think the way we do, and what we can change. 

Those spaces are also very important to LLI because they encourage us to self-reflect about our actions and their impact on the Huaycan community. 

However, even though we use civic reflection discussions as a way to continue ethically volunteering in Huaycan, CRD is a lot more than that, and is utilized well beyond LLI. They  are hosted all over the world in different contexts, like schools, businesses, etc and for different reasons, all with the same goal: to get a reflective discussion going among our communities. 

And this is why we think it is an essential tool to confront the current situation we are living in -It doesn’t really matter when you are reading this article.

What Does a Civic Reflection Discussion Look Like?

The discussion in a Civic Reflection can take many forms and all of them are unique somehow. Actually, all CRDs start in the same way: we take a resource or material, read/watch/listen to it together, and discuss it for an hour or so. Plain and simple 

Photo by Maud Bellet

It is very important to understand that CRD must be a safe space for everyone to talk and to be listened to, this means respect and openness are key while being part of the discussion. This definitely does not mean, however, you won’t feel uncomfortable. In fact, feeling uncomfortable is a sign there are ideas that are challenging you to examine and re-examine. But this is all good. This is how unlearning tastes. Also, sometimes you will also feel excited, fulfilled and very empowered. It is important to give you space to feel both.

However, you need to keep in mind that the discussion taking place during CRDs should STRENGTHEN your work in wider society as an advocate, educator, volunteer, student, etc for causes you may choose. This is NOT the actual work -this is an aid in the process.

CRDs are just the beginning and it is up to you what to do next. 

If you want to learn more about Civic Reflection we encourage you to check out the Center for Civic Reflection website.

Online Civic Reflection Discussions

This June, LLI started a series of CRDs in both English and Spanish in light of the recent events going on in the US. The murder of George Floyd by the police and all the protests taking place through the country left us thinking: Where is LLI in all of this? What can we do as an organization largely based in Peru?

We strongly believe in equality and we work to accomplish this within the framework of our organization.  LLI was founded on the basis of helping women in a marginalized community in Peru create more opportunity for themselves and their families. 

Photo by Gioeilli Jesús Trisolini Caceres

Society postponed this conversation for too long, so we thought that we could contribute to the process of justice by encouraging our former volunteers and friends to self-reflect and question themselves through CRDs, a tool that helped us a lot in the past. 

The idea of hosting an online CR was challenging and we didn’t know how many people would be up to join us. We end up facilitating three online CR, and we are happy to say that they were a complete success–and ALL full!

A lot of people signed up for it, former volunteers and other individuals who thought it might be an interesting event. And even though all the discussions were different, 95% of our participants said they would do it again!

It Was Cool but… Why Are We Repeating CRDs?

We realized that online CR is a bigger tool than we originally thought and can transcend borders and thousands of km to create a space for people from all over the world to keep self-examining and challenging others.

Perhaps this is the way to continue ethical volunteering as right now, there are no volunteers physically at LLI? Maybe this is the way we connect ethical volunteers with social responsibility, activism or others avenues?

Creating an international network which provides spaces to talk and critically think about different topics is a great chance to continue the process that we started with our volunteers in Huaycan. To have other individuals join that conversation is the best way to enrich that process and share it with everyone who would like to be part of it. 

CRDs are just the beginning, we would like to contribute to plant the seed. It’s in everyone that joins us hands to water it and help it grow. This is why we are launching another series of CRDs soon! Facilitated by a great team of former volunteers and managers who will help us!

How Can I Get Involved?

By now you should be completely intrigued by this CRDs thing and you are probably wondering how you can be part of this… right?

You can get involved by: 

  • Participating! Join us on the next CRDs You do not need to be a former volunteer or have a direct connection to LLI. We will be posting soon the schedule of the next CRD series through our social media, make sure you follow us on Instagram and Facebook and subscribe to our Newsletter
  • Being a facilitator. Facilitators are those people who guide the conversation during CRDs. If you are interested in facilitating an online CRD for us or even in your neighborhood, school, workplace, we can provide you with online training and resources for you to be prepared. Join our team of facilitators and help us spread the conversation. If you are interested, please email us at lara@lightandleadership.org.
  • Share! If the times don’t work for you and you can’t either facilitate or join our CRDs, help us reach other people who would like to be part of this. These CRDs are not exclusive to our former volunteers and we would love to connect with other people out there wanting to “reflect civically” with us.

See you later, nos vemos pronto!

These past months have been crazy. We had to close our programs and say goodbye to all of our volunteers with no previous notice. 

But we were lucky to have Ximena and Emma!

Even though they were as scared and confused as the rest of us, they stepped forward and led and took care of our volunteers until the very last day. 

Now their time with LLI has finished and we are very sad to say goodbye to them. We can’t thank them enough for their hard work during these past years. 

We will miss you

Dear Ximena, Your lively spirit and outgoing personality lit up every room you entered. Working alongside you was fun and you taught me so much. Muchas gracias! Wishing you all the best!  Un abrazo, Jamie

Querida Ximena, lastimosamente nuestro trabajo en LLI no coincidiò, pero a través de los medios sociales se viò el gran trabajo que hicieron para la comunidad de Huaycán en este tiempo. Estoy segura que gracias a tu hermosa personalidad cada voluntario habrà vivido su experiencia en LLI como en una familia. Te deseo todo lo mejor para tu futuro!  Elisa

Ximena,  Recuerdo con mucho cariño y gracia todas las veces que nos encontrábamos en la casa, la oficina o de camino a la bodega, ya sea por casualidad o de contrabando. Hiciste un increíble trabajo cuidando de todos nosotros en todo momento, gracias por las cenas improvisadas, por ver Black Mirror conmigo, y por todo el apoyo que me diste en el Centro de Jóvenes. Eres una persona maravillosa y con muchísimo potencial, espero que puedas seguir viajando y bailando mucho, y en un futuro logres cambiar el turismo en Perú como lo imaginas. Te deseo lo mejor en la vida, de forma personal y profesional, y espero que esa chispa de alegría nunca se extinga de tu persona. Te mando un abrazo muy muy fuerte. Yara

Ximena, gracias por todo lo que has hecho por Luz y Liderazgo. Tu sonrisa y amable presencia en la oficina hizo que todos se sintieran bienvenidos. Eres una trabajadora muy dura y hiciste una enorme diferencia para los voluntarios y todos en LLI. Gracias por las risas y momentos divertidos 🙂 Espero que podamos reunirnos de nuevo pronto chica! Jill

Dicen que cuando estás lejos de casa lo que más necesitas es a tu madre. Y yo no sé si eso es cierto o no. Lo que sí que sé es que, Ximena, fuiste lo más parecido a una madre que tuve ahí. Me compraste repelente contra los zancudos, comprobabas que comiera suficientes vitaminas y me tomaba mi b12, te asegurabas de que tuviéramos internet, jabón, pan y fruta y que cogieramos una chaqueta los días que hacía frío. Me enseñaste qué moto taxis tomar y cómo saber que estaban intentando cobrarme más de lo que el viaje costaba en realidad. Me llevaste por museos, restaurantes y catedrales, porque necesitabas saber que visitaba todo lo que debía visitar de Lima. Pero también me llevaste de fiesta, me hacías reír, me hiciste bailar, me enseñaste a moverme al ritmo de la samba y me descubriste toda esa música peruana que querías que me llevara conmigo a España. Te echo de menos y tenerte ahí fue la suerte mas grande. La mía y la de todas. Porque Nada de eso hubiese sido lo mismo sin ti. Anna

Ximena, Trabajar contigo estos mesecitos ha sido un placer. Me encanta tu buena onda, tu sonrisa enorme y tus ganas de darlo todo siempre. Sé que la vida te depara grandes proyectos y te deseo suerte en todos ellos. Lo harás genial, estoy segura. Un abrazo enorme. Irene

Conozco a Ximena desde la universidad, estudiamos la misma carrera. La conocía lo suficiente para estar seguro que ella haría un buen trabajo en Luz y Liderazgo pues no quería que cualquier persona tome esa posición y que posiblemente lo deje ya que no cumplia con sus expectativas. Ximena es una mujer de palabra y estaba muy feliz cuando aceptó el trabajo. Me acuerdo el primer dia que ella vino, no estaba sola, si no con su tia, jaja Ximena estaba un poco avergonzada. Exitos en tus planes futuros Ximena! y sigue bailando como loca !!  Anthony

Ximena!!! Como te extraño!! Tú hiciste que cada voluntario tuviera una experiencia bonita en Peru y si no fuera por ti, muchas cosas no hubieran sido posible! Nos reímos mucho y nunca me olvidaré del concierto en Barranco! Donde sea que estás trabajando, se que tendrás mucho éxito. Hasta pronto amiga!! Mucho cariño, Isabelle

Querida Ximena, Me da mucha pena que no podamos celebrar todo lo que has logrado en la ONG en el último año y medio – mereces una torta de la quince, una dance party, abrazos fuertes y mucho más! No solamente fuiste una persona muy trabajadora, también trajiste alegría, una mente abierta y un amor por la música a la casa de los voluntarios. Mi experiencia (y estoy  segura que cualquier voluntario estaría de acuerdo) no habría sido igual sin ti. Te deseo todo lo mejor te mando mucha fuerza. Espero que un día pueda viajar por Perú contigo y escucharte decir “qué boniiiiito” de nuevo. Abrazos fuertes, Caroline

Ximena, ¡mi reina! ¡¡Ximena!! Gracias por ser tú y ayudarme tanto en Huaycán. Te convertiste en una de mis mejores amigas en Perú y realmente te extraño. ¡No puedo esperar a estar de vuelta en Perú bailando contigo! Eres increíble y te felicito por todo lo que has logrado con LLI. ¡Las palabras no pueden expresar lo feliz que me haces! ¡Gracias! Abrazos, Deb💝

Ximena: No puedo creer que te vayas de LLI. Eres una parte muy importante de LLI  y siempre lo serás. Gracias por tener siempre una gran sonrisa ,gracias por ayudar siempre a todos! Eres muy intelligent ,Graciosa y increíble y por eso estoy segura que vas a tener éxito en todo. Gracias no es suficiente pero gracias por todo! Siempre estás invitada a visitarme en Israel. Siempre te recordare. Te quiero mucho y ojalá que nos volvamos a ver. Te extraño mucho; Noy

Ximena! Yo tengo muchas memorias contigo mientras yo estuve con LLI en Perú y compartimos la oficina. Me parece que creemos un programa de voluntarios muy fuerte y divertido. Recuerdo muchos chistes y risas y organizando las recogidas en el aeropuerto 😉 Recuerdo claramente cuando fuimos a Karioke y cantamos juntos una canción de One Republic 😛 Tu siempre eras muy útil y amable con todos los voluntarios y te apreciaban muchísimo. Recuerdo cuando Deb te trajo rosas y cuando y muchos juegos divertidos con los voluntarios. Pienso en ti frecuentemente y deseo lo mejor en tu próximo paso. Espero verte pronto cuando acabe este crisis.  Ian

Ximena: Ximena welcomed me with a big smile to LLI, and I knew in that moment that I had gained a wonderful coworker and friend. Ximena built caring relationships with both international volunteers and community members alike, and I know she will be missed by everyone who worked with her. Her contribution to LLI really can’t be underestimated – I can’t count the times I thought to myself, ‘Thank goodness for Ximena’ or ‘Where would we be without Ximena?’. I can’t wait to hear about what she does next – any organisation would be so lucky to have her! Jess

Hola amiga Ximena, espero que tú y tu familia estén bien en estos tiempos tan difíciles. Durante mis meses en LLI, ha sido un placer tenerte como compañera de trabajo y formar tan linda amistad contigo. Eres una persona extraordinaria y espero que nunca cambies lo risueña y amigable que eres. Me hiciste sentir a gusto en la ONG desde mi llegada 🙂 Gracias por llevarnos a conciertos tan chéveres y buscar los mejores eventos!  Muchas gracias por ayudarme tanto en el centro de niños 🙂 Te extraño un montón y espero que nos volvamos a ver pronto 🙂 Tu amiga, Estefania

Querida Ximena: Muchísimas gracias por todo lo que has hecho como madre de la casa de voluntarios internacionales y como activista social con nuestros voluntarios locales 🙂 Eres una mujer inteligente, cariñosa, creativa y comprometida. Soy muy afortunada de haber tenido la oportunidad a trabajar a tu lado durante un año y medio en Huaycán. Espero que te sientas orgullosa de todo que has logrado durante tu tiempo con LLI y estoy muy emocionada a ver lo que vas a lograr en tu próximo trabajo. Deseo todo lo mejor para ti y para tu familia. Cuando todo esto ha pasado y podemos reunirnos en persona otra vez, te invito una hamburguesa en Papachos para despedirnos de LLI de verdad 🙂  Cuídate mucho amiga! Emma

Dear Emma: you are a very dedicated, smart,  thoughtful and brilliant person. I am sure that wherever you go and whoever you meet in life, people will be able to recognize immediately and value your qualities, like everyone in LLI did. Moving on to a new stage in life can be a challenging process but I know you are an incredibly hard worker…  I wish you the best of luck in all of your future endeavours, there is no doubt you will be great and continue to have success in all areas! Elisa

Querida Emma, Durante el tiempo que hemos trabajado juntas no me ha dejado de sorprender tu energía y tu dedicación. Sé que haya donde vayas, estarás bien, y el equipo que te reciba será afortunado de tenerte. Te desearía suerte, pero sé que no la necesitas, prefiero desearte éxitos! Pues sé que te llegarán muchos! Un abrazo a la distancia. Ire

Emma,  Insisto en que me es difícil imaginar LLI y Huaycán sin ti, no solo por el increíble trabajo que realizaste desde la oficina y tus aportaciones a cada uno de los programas, sino también por todos los eventos y actividades que organizaste para los voluntarios como subir el cerro, las noches de helado en la Quince, los días de playa, excursiones, y muchas otras más que me hacen muy complicado elegir una favorita y que al mismo tiempo me hicieron sentir en familia. Muchas gracias por ser un ejemplo, haberme enseñado tanto, ayudarme a crecer e inspirarme siempre. Espero de corazón que el camino que elijas a continuación esté llego de alegría y satisfacción. Me quedo tranquila sabiendo que a pesar de la distancia; los recuerdos y la fraternidad perdurarán. Recuerda que en México te estaré esperando con los brazos abiertos. Yara

El trabajo de Emma era uno de los más complicados porque era la cabeza e imagen de Luz y Liderazgo ante los voluntarios y la comunidad. Tomar decisiones nunca es fácil pero ella lo tenia que hacer a pesar de las diferentes opiniones que pudieron haber existido. Mi gran admiración y agradecimiento para con ella por su gran labor en Luz y Liderazgo. Le deseo el mejor de los éxitos y espero que sus objetivos en la vida se vuelvan realidad. Gracias Emma por toda tu chamba! Anthony

Emma, Thank you so much for all that you have helped me with and of course LLI! It was really good getting to know you and I. I really appreciate everything you have done! Wishing you all the best in your future endeavors and I hope to be able to meet up with you once I can move back to Huaycan (;  Thanks for everything, Deb

Mis Emma soy mamá de Milene, le deseo mucha felicidad y gracias por enseñarle a mi hija y que la quiero mucho y un fuerte abrazo y cuídese mucho y que Dios le bendiga gracias.

Emma, you have had such a wonderful impact on so many volunteers, participants, managers, and staff during your time with LLI, myself included 🙂  Thank you for being such a great leader, even in difficult times! You always managed with empathy, grace, and strength, and were able to form great friendships with so many people on top of that. You have helped LLI accomplish so many incredible things, and I think your presence will undoubtedly live on as LLI looks towards the future. Thanks in particular for helping me lift up Huaywasi and structure it to the program it is today. Meetings were always a breath of fresh air with you (even if we were only sorting out finances haha). Wishing you the best on your next adventure, any organization would be lucky to have you! PS- next time I’m in Lima we definitely need a karaoke night 🙂 Jill

Dear Emma, Thank you so much for all your dedication and hard work. You’re amazing! You made such a difference in the lives of so many of us at LLI. Wishing you all the best. Un abrazo, Jamie

Bueno mis yo como mami de Kalet y Fabián Areche, solo agradecerle por la bonita labor que realiza muchas gracias por todo y que Dios la bendiga mucho espero poderla ver en el aniversario del centro, y si no es así, le deseo lo mejor cuídese mucho un abrazo a la distancia y muchas bendiciones.

Miss soy Kalet, muchas gracias por enseñarme cuídese mucho y un abrazo de mi parte.

Emma: I can’t believe you are leaving LLI .I am so happy that I got to meet you. You are so amazing ,smart and always with the biggest smile on your face. Thank you for everything ! You and Jorge are always welcome to visit me in Israel. Miss you. Noy

Emma, Oh wow – where do I start! You put such a wonderful document together for Brynn, Yara and I’s goodbye as the 2018-2019 managers. I’ll start with my some of my favorite memories. 

Games: Emma, you are so good at games! I have many memories of us I’m the volunteer house or in your apartment playing code names, resistance, salad bowl, and you are always creative, humorous, deceptive and competitive! I still remember that you ALWAYS one trivia. We had a deal that if your team one the final trivia night you could keep my treasured national park calendar in the lounge. And you of course won 🙂

Huaraz: Last July, ten volunteers and you and I went to Huaraz for the weekend. We had that tour guide you loved at the ruins of Wilcahuain we went to with Yara and Dominic and we had amazing food and juice at the little restaurant on the river. Then, you, Blaise, Yara and I watched Peru beat Chile 3-0 in the Copa America semis at the California Cafe (there were like 7 of us total going wild) and I remember you calling Jorge on the way home who was on the bus on some business trip and telling us that Jorge was crying the whole call 😉

Huaycan and Horacia (los perros): Or continued efforts to bring health to these two lovable street dogs were a major part of 2019. I will always remember carrying Horacia in a blanket late at night to the vet on a mototaxi and all the weird visits we had to the vet office (meeting a random Norwegian guy and his wife, the little chihuahuas in sweaters, quasi-sketchy injections, and the little calditos they would give the dogs stating overnight. Horacia on Ana’s roof. Huaycan in a little sweater. The random adoption of Horacia. That said, I feel very glad that we made all those efforts and will always cherish the memories of them running to us from the center or joining us on the cerro. 

Conversations: This isn’t one particular memory, but I will always cherish our conversations. Whether on combis, the P bus or other transport, or walking in Huaycán or Lima, I always felt that we had very high quality conversations about life, work, and other things. I really appreciated getting to know you outside of work as a friend in addition to a colleague. I feel like I would laugh often, feel heard, and generally be happier after our conversations 🙂 Ian

Emma: I am so grateful for the support and guidance and that Emma gave me throughout my year as a programme manager – as a supervisor, as a mentor and as a friend. I learned so much from her strong and caring leadership, which has helped me to become both a better professional and a better person. She really touched the lives of so many people, and I know she will be greatly missed by everyone she knew in Huaycán, Jess

Dear Emma, I hope you have taken the time to cheers yourself with a Pisco Sour or a glass of wine to celebrate all that you accomplished during your time with LLI. Your dedication to the NGO and its volunteers was beyond words and know that it did not go unrecognized. Good luck with all of your future adventures and endeavors once the world returns to “normalcy”. Sending you lots of hugs from California. Love, Caroline

Dear Emma, Imagino que esta no es la despedida que esperabas, el adiós que te merecías. Hoy teníamos que haberte comprado una tarta bien rica y escribirte una tarjeta con fotos de tus mejores momentos. Hubiésemos organizado una fiesta en la terraza de la casa de voluntarios, o en el Airbnb de Jill (que así bebemos vino). Hubiésemos cantado o bailado y yo habría intentado cocinarte guacamole como el de Jess, aunque seguro no hubiese tenido mucho éxito. Quiero darte las gracias por todo el trabajo que has hecho con y para la ONG. Gracias por dar tanto de ti a la organización, a cada uno de los voluntarios y a una comunidad que seguro ya te echa de menos y siente tu ausencia. Has dejado una huella enorme en todas y cada una de las personas que hemos tenido la suerte de trabajar contigo. No creo que haya muchos directores que se involucren tanto con su trabajo, con sus empleados, con cada detalle, por pequeño que sea. Gracias por hacernos sentir importantes, gracias por confiar y creer en nosotros, pero sobre todo gracias por ver siempre lo mejor de cada uno. Gracias por tu luz y tu optimismo, por tu humildad y generosidad. Gracias por tu alegría, sutileza e inteligencia. Gracias por tus ganas y empeño constante para que, con trabajo, todo lo que te rodea sea un poco mejor. Mucha suerte y muchos éxitos, vas a tener un futuro brillante, uno que ya ha empezado. Love, Anna Closas

Fue corto el tiempo que las conocí, me hubiese gustado participar más en las actividades para mejorar la calidad de educación de los niños y jóvenes, pero esta situación  nos obligó a cambiar nuestros planes. Espero que en un futuro, podamos seguir trabajando por el bien de la comunidad. Saludos; Kevin Zevallos

Os deseo lo mejor!! Erick 

Os deseamos la mejor de las suertes, we love you

The Challenge of Education During a World Health Crises

Online classes for Low Resource Families.

Quarantine has become part of our new normal. 

As an adult, practicing self-quarantine at home can play an important role in preventing the spread of coronavirus, we know this now. This is why most of us are following the rules and trying to practice social distancing the best we can. But this doesn’t mean that coping with the disruption in your normal routine is easy, and we also know that. We even feel it. 

Imagine how this is affecting kids. 

Quarantine and kids 

Many experts have talked about the importance of a routine for kids during the quarantine. It’s important to keep busy your children, have a sleeping routine and try to implement “normal” activities as well as a balanced diet for them to be mentally and physically healthy. 

Ok, we got this.

Focusing on the mental aspect, in some countries this is pretty easy. Schools are providing online classes, there are plenty of resources on the internet to keep your kids busy that parents can explore, and families have access to computers and other devices for their children to use.

But, what about Peru?

Peru is still under a state of Emergency. The quarantine will continue likely until the end of May. After this, we are still not sure what kind of measures the government will implement to step by step go back to normal. 

Obviously family realities in Peru are diverse and different from other countries. But let’s focus on Huaycán, which is where LLI works on the fringes of Lima. 

Huaycán Kids are confined at home with their families. We know from speaking to families and surveys over the years, many homes have few books at home. Some of them don’t have access to a computer. And most of them are struggling with their quarantine routines. 

They should be at school, and they know it. They miss their friends, going out, and we’ve been told by their families they miss coming to our Programs.

The government started a home school system through TV. Knowing that not everyone has access to a computer, but most of the peruvian families have a TV at home, that was the best strategy to keep educating children during these difficult times. 

At LLI, we started thinking of ways to also provide classes, materials and resources for our kids to be busy and keep learning and dreaming. But, how can we do that in Huaycán?

Let’s talk to Yeni, our Education Program Manager and the new woman in charge of our Online Kids Program!

Our New Online Kids Program

Yeni has been our Education Program Manager for the past three years. Pre-COVID-19, she was on the educational side of our programs, focusing on guiding our teachers and volunteers, leading workshops for them, completing our curriculums and much more. 

She is now working from her home in Huaycán and focusing on creating, supervising and leading our new Online Kids Program. 

Let’s chat with her about this!

So Yeni, What exactly is the Online Kids Program?

The Online Kids Program would be a combination of short videos made by me and a compilation of different online resources based on our curriculum content. The idea is to provide families with plenty of material for them to work at home with their kids. Fun activities focus on learning while improving their creativity, based on our participants interests. 

I will be sending the materials to every family on a weekly basis and monitoring the kids progress through eassy and short tasks the kids need to complete at home and parents will send them back to me. 

Why did we decide to implement this initiative?

We decided to start our Online Kids Program to stay connected to our participants. We have a very strong and close relationship with them and their families and we want to keep it that way. 

By offering them new and adapted ways to teach their kids during quarantine, we want to let them know no matter how difficult the situation is, we are here to bring quality education opportunities to their children  and this is what we are doing now. 

Some of the families already expressed their concern about their kids’ education. Public schools don’t have enough resources to help families to home school their children so this is our attempt to give them more materials. 

Also, we are aware of the different family situations of our participants, and not every parent has the chance to spend the day with their kids, so this is also a way to keep our participants busy through educative and healthy routines. 

So, what kind of content will LLI be sharing?

We have a long list of resources, but some of the content will be science experiments videos to do at home, short english story telling videos or reading material, activities to improve reading comprehension and create reading habits at home, small art projects to stimulate their creativity, yoga classes to help them meditate and remaining calm during quarantine and much much more. 

Who put together this content and with what criteria?

I personally choose all the content based on three different pillars.

  1. Our curriculums. Our Education Programs work based on educational curriculums that teachers, volunteers and me work at during the year based on our experience and knowledge. The main subjects are: English, Art, Reading or Yoga, but the curriculum also includes other topics like equality, empathy, leadership and much more. 
  2. Kids interests. Every year we ask our participants what kind of content they are interested in learning about. Based on their answers I tried to include their favorite topics and connect them to our curriculum
  3. Home friendly activities. Our kids and families might not have all the resources we have at our Education Center, so all the activities are simple and easy for doing at home alone or with their parents’ support. 

We are also looking for remote spanish speakers volunteers who are interested in gathering educational online resources to complete and complement ours. If anyone is interested they can contact us to vcm@lightandleadership.org.

How will we share the resources with our families and why this way?

This is a very good question and a difficult one. 

When we were thinking of restarting the Kids Program we weren’t sure how to do it. Online is the best  way to prevent our participants from getting the virus or spread it among other participants. Our priority is to keep them safe. We were also aware that not all of our families have access to a computer or a printer. 

However most of our participants’ families count with at least a member of the family who has communication tools like Whatsapp or Facebook. Probably this is not the easiest way to provide educational content and monitor our participants’ progress but we need to adapt to their possibilities and the situation.
We asked them if they will be interested in this format of online education for now and most of them said yes. 

What will happen with these participants who don’t have access to the internet at all?

We are also working on paper educational packages for those families who won’t be able to join our Online Kids Program. However, we won’t be able to get them to the families until the situation gets better. We are talking about a very vulnerable community, and as I said before, our priority is to keep them safe and healthy. 

I love this idea, Yeni. When is the Online Kids Program starting?

The Online Kids Program started last week and hopefully we will be able to provide the physical educational packages to the rest of the families in the coming months. 

Looking Ahead: Re-opening our Educational Programs. 

Probably most of you are wondering what will be happening with our Programs as we knew them before. As an organization we decided to focus on reopening our Kids’ Program on the short term. Hopefully this will be happening next September. 

Obviously we will have to adapt to the public health measures mandated by the Peruvian government. But we are very positive, and we think we will be able to provide our participants with English, library and technology classes. 

We are excited to see them!

We are still sad that we won’t be able to reopen our Teens’ and Women’s Program in 2020, but we are anxious to rebuild all of LLI when the time is right.

This world health crisis is affecting our organization a lot in different ways, and even though we are trying to learn from the situation and with your help we are now financially able to keep working in Huaycan, we still need to be sure that our educational programs are sustainable and adapted to Huaycans’ community needs.

Do you want to be part of all these changes? Get involved, volunteer with us!

You can start volunteering from home, help us keeping our participants busy during the quarantine! As soon as Peru opens up its borders we will restart our International Volunteering Program. If you want to come to Peru, keep posted through our social media or idealist, or send us an email to vcm@lightandleadership.org

You are not able to volunteer but want to support, consider donating to our COVID-19 Relief campaign. Follow us in our social media and share our posts to help us reach more allies. 

Stay home, stay healthy, stay engaged!

Why and how you can help LLI get through COVID-19 crisis?

March 15th was the day quarantine was announced in Peru. Our international volunteers gathered in the living room listening to the President and not knowing yet how this would affect us and our programs. 

Lots of meetings happened after that. Lots of hard conversations were held and a lot of difficult decisions were made. 

Our only goal: keep LLI going

If you know us already, then you know we have been working in Huaycan for almost 11 years. We have grown so much during the process, hosting between 400-500 participants each year in our programs between Women, Teens and Kids with the help of more than 400 international volunteers over the years and countless dedicated local volunteers.

We’ve learned a lot from this community and, with time and through a lot of listening, we became one. Huaycan is now our home. 

Education is still a priority for this community and, unfortunately, there are not many free, high quality extracurricular options in Huaycan and its surroundings, which can be tough for families who are seeking extra support for themselves or their children. This is why closing our programs is simply not a permanent option for us. 

It’s obvious that these past two months have been different and extremely complicated, not just in Huaycan or for LLI, but around the world and for everyone. 

We had to suspend our programs without knowing when we will be seeing our participants again. Letting go of our international volunteers was one of the hardest things we’ve ever done as an organization. 

But again, our only goal:  keep LLI going

This is what we repeat to ourselves every day and our mantra during our meetings. 

And so far it’s working. Together we came up with lots of ideas that are helping us secure LLI’s future. You also prove to us again and again that we can count on you. Our supporters: former and current volunteers, donors, followers, families, friends… everyone who is giving it all for us. 

So I’m going to give you 5 reasons we should keep supporting LLI during the COVID-19 crisis and whatever comes after:

  1. In our eleven years of work in Huaycan we’ve hosted more than 19.000 languages classes for free.
  2. Last year, our Kids Program participants read more than 2100 books
  3. In 2019 alone, we welcomed 107 new Teens Participants into our Programs. 
  4. In the past two years, we’ve hosted nearly 60 Finances classes for women entrepreneurs
  5. Our Programs host participants from diverse areas in Huaycan and its surroundings, including the highest zones, Ñaña and Horacio. 

I could keep and keep going, but I think these 5 reasons give you a great understanding of why we should keep supporting LLI.

And now, you probably wonder how you can help us weather the COVID-19 storm. Here are5 easy ways to support LLI during global Stay At Home orders:

  1. Donate to our COVID-19 Relief campaign!

Our largest challenge during this crisis is keeping LLI financially viable. As you might know, LLI’s funding sources are the following three and have been severely compromised:

  1. Donations from individuals and businesses (we need your help!)
  2. Program Fees (our volunteer program is currently closed until further notice)
  3. Huaywasi Sales (any sales events have been cancelled for the foreseeable future)

Don’t let the Coronavirus stop LLI!

Donate here! 

  1. Join us in our FIRST LLI ONLINE GALA

This Saturday, April 18th we will be hosting our First LLI Online Gala: Todos con Huaycan. 

“Come” and “join us” for only 20$ 

Enjoy music from artists all around the world, experience exciting workshops AND play live Bingo. PLUS we’ll be raffling off fair trade Huaywasi products!

You can buy your tickets through this link until the very day of the event.

  1. Bid in our online Gift Card auction

This is the perfect way to double your impact supporting not just LLI but also local and national businesses in Chicago which are also struggling during the coronavirus crisis. The online auction has already started and will end on April 18th at 8 PM Central time

Bid Now! 

  1. Buy Huaywasi!  

We won’t ever stop repeating this. BUY-HUAY-WASI! 🙂

If you still don’t know our fair trade brand, you need to check out the website. Support Huaywasi, help us get funds to keep open our programs and do it looking great and comfy in your #WasiMade outfit

Check our products! 

  1. Consider volunteering with us in the future

Quarantine won’t last forever. COVID-19 will be gone. And we are sure that with your help we will be back and running at some point in the coming months. 

Please, consider coming to Peru and volunteer with us (again, maybe?). Keep posted and follow us on our social media for any updates on the opportunities available likely later this year.

Now that you know why and how to support LLI, don’t forget to share, share, share!

We need more allies and sharing our this blog or our newsletter is a great way to support us.

Help us reach people that still don’t know about us! Follow us on our social media and don’t forget to share.  Did you know that your friends are more likely to give to LLI if they know already you do? After all, sharing is caring! 

Stay at home, stay safe and see you at our online gala!

To be or not to be a manager at LLI

It’s been almost two years since I left Huaycan for the first time and finished my time as Kids Program Manager. 

It’s been almost two years, and here we go again!

My name is Irene and I was the Kids Program Manager a while ago…

In 2016 I finished my master’s in Community Development and I was ready to “eat the world”, to fight injustice, to support strong women around the globe, to be part of the change. 

TO BE THE CHANGE!

A year later I was working for an outsource and drowning in the routine of a role that it was just not for me. Working to pay the debts while waiting for the perfect job to knock on my door. 

Spoiler alert, that never happened. 

It was time to take a risk, to explore the world and try something different. Volunteering wasn’t ideal because “hey! I have a master!”, but a change was needed and I knew it. 

That’s when I found LLI.

And changes came. 

I found LLI through the site Idealist. I saw a brief post, clear ideas, strong statements about ethical volunteering and community development. I liked that. Free food accommodation! I loved that. 

So I took the risk, I packed all my stuff and flew all the way to Peru. My first night at Huaycan was awful. 

Noisy Huaycan, which I love so much now. 

I was ready to start but I wasn’t sure how, what, when. This was when I realized that doesn’t matter how many years you spend at college, you still have lots to learn. And I did. 

LLI gave me the chance to prove myself and develop my own skills while learning about the insides of a grassroots NGO. It was the perfect balance between responsibilities and guidance. I grew so much as a professional and I couldn’t have enjoyed it more. 

I built strong relationships with the kids, their families, and the community. I knew them, what they wanted from me and what I was able to provide them. 

I learned about sustainability, about community… I even learned about myself. 

Needless to say, I met amazing people along the way. LLI’s team welcomed me with open arms (I can’t stop mentioning my great friend Rosa, or Lara, who taught me so much.), and all the people who came later (Lore, mi hermana; my cara amica Elisa; mi causa Anthony, and many many more).

It was one of the best experiences I ever had. 

I even came back!

Since my first year at LLI, I’ve been working in small grassroots NGOs in Peru. Almost three years later, I am the Communications and Development Manager at LLI. None of this would have happened if I hadn’t clicked on that Idealist link while procrastinating in my old, unfulfilling job in Madrid.

I could forever thank The Light and Leadership Initiative and its community for that opportunity. But I would rather work with them to keep providing free and quality education to Huaycan’s families. 

So, if you ever ask me if you should come and volunteer as a manager at LLI?

Please remember that I believe in LLI as much as they believed in me!

Go now to Idealist and apply!

We are looking for Kids, Teens, and International Volunteer Program Manager!

2020 Goal: Sustainability

Local volunteering and its impact

2019 was a very productive year. 

We’ve grown and learned from all of our Managers and Volunteers – Thank you all!-  and we are very proud of what we achieved. 

A goal that I’m really happy we achieved in 2019, led by our incomparable Education Programs Manager, Yeni, was training teachers to implement our objectives from the logical framework into our Kids’ Program classes. This means that instead of just teaching art classes or English classes, for example, we are working with teachers to make sure that their lesson plans are focused on developing our kiddos’ creativity, their critical thinking skills, and their leadership skills”  Emma Livingston, Manager Director

However, 2019 is over and it’s time to focus on what this year holds for us.

We have big plans for 2020 and we are already working on one of our biggest goals: improving our Local Volunteer Program.

You might wonder why?

Sustainability and Local Volunteering

At LLI we firmly believe in sustainability. And we think working on improving our Local Volunteer Program is a big part of it. 

You’ve probably already heard about sustainability. With time, this concept has become essential in the international developing field and we are glad that more and more NGOs have started incorporating this idea into their programs. 

Sometimes sustainability refers to the creation of sources of income that can be maintained over time and that continue to provide quality services to the community in the long term. However, income is not everything in the non-profit field and sustainability can refer to other areas in a program like ours.

At LLI, sustainability is also about connecting with the community and working along with it to build a strong base for the future. Working on our Local Volunteer Program is a big part of this process.

We want to make our local volunteer program as strong as our international volunteer program has always been.” Emma Livingstone, MD

This year, our amazing Onsite Volunteer Manager, Ximena, is implementing a program to train and accompany our Local Volunteers throughout their volunteering experience at LLI. 

We want them to feel part of our family and feel comfortable enough to teach, lead workshops, and participate in LLI decisions.

The Local Volunteer Program will be an opportunity for local people to improve their skills as leaders while leading a change in their community. Is not just about volunteering, it is also about getting to know the needs of your own community and how to address them” Ximena Venegas, Onsite Volunteer Manager

The new Local Volunteer Program started two weeks ago and we already have been contacted by almost 20 people who are interested in becoming or continuing as an LLI volunteer. 

If you want to learn more about this or other of our programs, subscribe to this blog and don’t forget to follow us on Instagram and Facebook.

¡Hora de leer!

Did you know that children who have a home library with as little as 20 books of their own complete three more years of schooling than children who don’t have any books at home?

It’s crazy how reading can improve our lives, and at LLI we are very conscious of this. 

However, not all of our participants have their own home libraries. Some of them only have access to books through school or other extracurricular activities. Having a space such us our little (but growing) library where they can read and, even better, take books home and enjoy reading with their families, can make a big difference. This is why we believe deeply in our Reading Program. And so do our participants’ families. 

Last year, we asked our families what we should fundraise for in our Holiday Fundraising Campaign. 60% of our participants’ parents agreed that we should fundraise to get more books for our Programs on top of money for our Holiday Event. 

So we did it!

Actually, you did it!

Thanks to our donors’ support we fundraised a total of $2,807.40, surpassing our initial goal by $807.40. And we couldn’t be more grateful.

Reading is, beyond a pleasure, a necessity especially in a country like Peru where the national illiteracy rate average is close to 6%. This is why creating safe spaces for reading that can be accessed for those who do not have the resources to buy books or access public reading spaces is so important. 

Last week we bought the latest books and now our library is so big that we can hardly handle it.

Big thanks to those who took the time to donate or share about our fundraising campaign, especially to Don and Ula, who are not just former volunteers (as if that is not great enough), but also went above and beyond to help us achieve our goal.

“To learn to read is to light a fire; every syllable that is spelled out is a spark.” – Victor Hugo

Just Breathe: Yoga at LLI

Here at LLI, we are proud to be one of the only places in Huaycan to offer free Yoga courses for kids aged 7 to 12! To kick off 2020, we offer you a guest blog post from 2019 English volunteer, Don Fiene and his interview with our rock-star Yoga teacher, Nissa Huerta. Enjoy!

I had the privilege to interview Nissa, LLI’s Kids’ Program Yoga teacher.  All during our discussion she radiated a calm, peaceful and content manner that sold me on the benefits of practicing Yoga more than any words could do justice. 

Nissa is trained in the Vinyasa, Aerobic and Thereaupeutic disciplines. She has been practicing Yoga for over 5 years and teaching for 2 years and is passionate about the benefits she has received from it. It helped her personally during a particularly difficult time in her life and she likes to share the practice that has benefited her with others.  Throughout the interview she emphasized that Yoga is a way of life, not just an exercise program.

She starts her day by meditating for 15 minutes. Throughout the day, she practices being conscious in the present moment and not letting her thoughts drift negatively to what happened in the past nor towards being anxious about the future. She regularly teaches 8 to 10 classes per week and studies yoga every weekend.  But yoga to her is something you practice all day long and can’t be quantified just by the number of classes you take. 

As for teaching children at LLI, she said she feels she has learned as much from them as they have from her.  At first she struggled with their shorter attention spans and playfulness. But she learned to adapt her class to their mentality, which made it less trouble, and more fun for both her and the students.  She feels like a girl with them, playing, jumping, rolling on the floor and having a good time together. She now loves teaching them and is considering taking courses in how best to teach yoga to children.

When asked what her favorite Yoga exercise was she said it was the camel pose, which is a kneeling back-bending asana (posture).   She likes it because it opens up and works so many parts of the body. It stretches and strengthens the shoulders, back and hips, and results in improved posture. 

Nissa has incorporated several objectives from the Kids’ Program Logical Framework into her Yoga classes. She has her students create their own poses such as the elephant and pig, stimulating their creativity.  She has students take turns directing the others, stimulating their confidence and leadership skills when playing the leader role as well as cultivating a respectful attitude when following. A key aspect of Yoga practice is to develop empathy for others, which is another objective of LLI’s Kids’ Program.

When asked to give her sales pitch for practicing Yoga, Nissa had much to say. Although people usually think of the physical benefits achieved while practicing Yoga, such as flexibility and balance, she stressed the mental benefits more.  She said that before she began practicing Yoga she had been a very anxious person and that Yoga has calmed her down, helped her maintain focus and helped her create more awareness in all activities throughout the day. She says it brings focus and balance to your life and helps you to be empathetic for others.  After completing the interview and hearing her words and witnessing her calm peaceful, content manner, I was sold.

It’s a Wrap! Our 2019 Fundraiser and Holiday Event

Holiday cheer was felt by all during our 2019 holiday party! On Sunday, December 1st, we celebrated the season with over 100 children and their families at our Education and Teen Centers. 

As always, the teens were a huge help, leading activities for the children and wrapping gifts for the parents! 

With their help, as well as that of local volunteers, the children were beaming as they participated in the dynamic activities from wreath making to holiday dancing! 

As they played, they made wishes on a Christmas Tree for books they’d like to have in the libraries in the coming year. We look forward to using our funds raised during the Give the Gift of Reading: LLI’s Holiday Event 2019! Fundraising campaign to fulfill their wishes. 

A huge thank you to all who contributed to the campaign, giving us a total of $2,807 towards the holiday event, gifts, and future book purchases!

As they played, their parents picked out gifts for them and had them wrapped at the teen center. 

The parents of the children from our program in Zone S will get to deliver an extra special surprise. The children in this program requested 1 gift each in a letter to Papa Noel (Santa Claus), which the Event Planner and Kids’ Program Manager then picked out for them at a market in Lima! 

Parents from all zones gave us their feedback in the form of a survey. Here are some highlights: 

  • 90.8% of parents believe LLI offers services that cannot be found anywhere else in Huaycán
  • 100% of parents say that LLI has improved their child’s performance at school 
  • 97.3% of parents are “very satisfied” with LLI

Overall, our party was filled with food, light and joy, which is what we wish for your holiday season as well! 

Sincerely, 

The Light and Leadership Initiative 🙂