A Leader in All of Us


On Saturday January 23rd, the Teen Center hosted an intercambio, or exchange, with a group of teenagers from Villa el Salvador, Peru. They participated in Voces de la Juventud (Voices of Youth), a Building Dignity youth leadership program.

A community development organization in Villa el Salvador, Building Dignity provides community education, empowers local leaders, and supports neighborhood-led development in marginalized areas. Villa el Salvador is located in the southern part of Lima, and like Huaycán, is another pueblo joven that originally sprung up from informal settlements in the 1970s-1990s.

The Voces de la Juventud teenagers used the theme of leadership to facilitate an informative and fun workshop for the LLI members. The session began with a fun ice-breaker, where each person was able to introduce themselves by shouting out their names and sharing a favorite memory from their time at their respective organizations.



The students then divided themselves into small groups that facilitated discussions and debates about different types of leaders, and what it takes to be one. The talks were followed by a presentation from the young individuals; through skits and songs they were able to represent what they believed showcased the perseverance of a good leader. With the help of the teenagers, the LLI teens learned that the traits of a leader weren’t only present in those with authority, but in ourselves, and young people living everyday lives. A thorough debrief of the presentations allowed students to reflect on what surprised them and what they had learned, and the exchange closed with another fun activity with everyone involved.

We are so grateful to Building Dignity and the teens of Voces de la Juventud for taking the time to come to Light and Leadership and Huaycán and facilitate the workshop. As we begin our own leadership program at Teens Without Limits in March, we hope in the future to be able to return the exchange and plan a visit of our own jóvenes to Villa el Salvador.

New Science and Technology Program



With the start of the new year, LLI has launched a Science and Technology program this month! This was made possible with the hiring of a local science teacher, Andrea, whose classes are held four times a week at the center.

Excited to be able to join the LLI team and help the children, Andrea is teaching them about Astronomy. And her new students are truly enjoying learning about galaxies, comets, dark matter, among many other things. One class included the children learning about the different types of galaxies. The class also got the chance to get creative when they made a galaxy pinwheel.

Andrea has said that she loves teaching because of her passion for helping and guiding children through the learning process. She’s eager to use her skills to motivate the kids and cultivate their minds.


In the coming year, students will engage with more technology lessons, including program coding and more.

Special thanks to the generous donor who made this program possible.

A Lesson on Belonging

A lesson on belonging
Photo credit: TVO Channel on Youtube.

Our international and local volunteer team gathered for the first Civic Reflection Discussion of 2016. The discussion, held monthly, is a component of our volunteer program that started in August 2015.

Recently, the class watched Andrew Moodie’s short speech on Belonging and Otherness. In the clip, he uses an analogy to illustrate the struggle most children of immigrants face trying to assimilate in a culture other than their own.

Afterward the volunteers held a discussion on cultural identity, racism, and global citizenship. They also suggested possible solutions to the many problems related to multi-culturalism. These dialogs have given the participants the occasion to speak about complex or difficult issues related to volunteer service or development work. It’s also tied to our initiative to improve ethical standards within our organization. Through this, volunteers and staff alike are challenged to grow, and reflect on the different perspectives shared with an open mind.

So we ask, what helps you view the world with an open heart and mind?

A Potluck to End the Year!


On December 5th, the Women’s Program held their last event of the year, a potluck to which all participants shared different meals they had prepared such as causa and potatos with ají, as well as traditional Christmas pastries and cookies.

Local volunteer Luis joined in to play Christmas songs on his guitar and accompany the dancing that later occurred. Later on a raffle was done for those who had assisted the most favoured old-timers Herminia and Guillermina, but also newcomer Cipriana, who since joining us in September had assisted the most workshops out of everyone. The evening was full of entertainment and a lovely chance for the women and their children to get to know each other some more, and of course to wish each other happy holidays.

Potluck (1)

A Fight for Women


Sometimes we have the privilege of having volunteers in our midst with special talents. Charlotte, who is our very own Math and English teacher and a taekwondo black belt, worked with the women’s program on self defense classes.
The ongoing class series continued with Charlotte as they practiced the most basic movements learned from previous classes. Local volunteers also participated to provide the women (to spar with as well) with something to punch at as well. The sporty session saw lots of laughter, but with November 25th also being the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, the workshop was followed by a 45-minute discussion on how as individuals and as a society we could prevent entering and creating violent situations.

The women, most in their 40s but a few participants in their 30s and 20s as well, very astutely recognized the connection between sexual violence and violence in general, and being able to teach our each other to think more critically about some of the harmful values that permeate our society, such as the glorification of violence, machismo and hyper-sexuality, is very important.
Learn more about how to end Violence against Women, visit UN Women.

Learning about “Los Niños del Mar”


On Sunday Nov 15th, we had the pleasure of having Israel Rivera from Casa Generación come and give us a presentation on homelessness and human trafficking to the teens in the teen center. Casa Generación is an organization dedicated to sheltering, feeding, and educating homeless youth, and providing outreach and support to youth who continue to live on the streets.

Israel showed the teens a movie about Casa Generación’s surfing program youth participants in its safe house near San Bartolo beach in Lima. The thirty-minute video, entitled “Los Niños del Mar“, illustrated the ways Casa Generación was able to offer the young kids therapy through surfing. The showing was followed by a discussion regarding the social factors that cause homelessness and human trafficking, as well as how these factors can impact the teens. Finally, the members wrote about what they would take home from the workshop – these thoughts were posted on our wall and shared with the entire group.

Take a look at the short film here!



A big thanks to Israel and Casa Generación for sharing your Sunday with The Light and Leadership Initiative!

For more information on Casa Generación and the great work they do, click here.

A Panchita Dinner

Chica morada (drink) and Peruvian food
The women enjoying some food and chica morada.

This past Saturday, LLI took a select group of our Women’s Program to a special dinner at Panchita, a restaurant in Lima’s Miraflores district owned by renown Peruvian chef Gaston Acurio. These women were rewarded for having consistently attended our classes throughout the year.

Accompanied by the sous chef, Leni Cruzmatute, the women were given a kitchen tour where they learned about the operational aspects of a kitchen, and got the opportunity to sample a majority of Panchita’s classic Peruvian dishes on the house: dishes like causa, chicha morada, anticuchos, and more were delighted our hearts as well as our stomachs. Sous chef Cruzmatute even shared with us the recipe for pastel de choclo (Peruvian savory cornbread), which was definitely one of the favorites of the night.

Leni showing the pastel de choclo
Ladies enjoying picarones

The evening ended with some picarones (pumpkin & sweet potato donuts) and a photo session with Leni. A big thank you to the Panchita staff for hosting us and giving us a fantastic and unforgettable culinary experience!

Civic Reflection- Ethical international volunteering

In recent years, the volunteer abroad “market” has exploded with a plethora of opportunities to help…however, not all these opportunities have an ethical backbone to guide the organizations, companies or agencies who are sending the volunteers.

At LLI, we do things differently. We are first a nonprofit offering community education programs, and we are second a volunteer program. Thus, LLI is constantly working to listen to the community and shape our programs to fit their needs. Volunteers are definitely needed to keep the wheels going round within these programs.

20150901_215115In order to raise the ethical standards of international volunteering at LLI, in August we began a series of monthly civic reflection discussions with both international and local LLI volunteers. The purpose of these discussions is to provide a place for those serving in Huaycan to work out difficult issues within the field of community service and development. Thus far, we’ve tackled complex questions like:

-What does it mean to serve?

-How important are perceptions when volunteering?

-How do we know who to give to and who not to give to?

Our group has included volunteers from Peru, the United States, Finland, France and Australia, making for a great cross-cultural exchange of ideas and opinions.


To get an idea of the materials we’ve used to guide us, check out The Lunch Date:


Stay tuned for more updates on our discussions!

International Peace Day/Día Internacional de la Paz

Each Saturday evening at the Teen Center, we host special events, such as movie nights, board game tournaments, or Culture Nights hosted by volunteers from different countries. On September 19th, we decided to turn our attention to International Day of Peace, a UN-designated day of peace and ceasefire.

     IMG_6659 We began the night asking ourselves what other days we celebrate throughout the year (Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, Day of the Child, etc.), and why peace should deserve a day and be celebrated as well. After watching a video of Ban Ki-moon, the Secretary General of the United Nations explain the significance of International Peace Day and the importance of education in creating a more peaceful world, we divided into small groups to discuss what we knew about war (in Peru and in different parts of the world) and how conflict affects us in our daily lives. A huge range of topics came up, from conflicts surrounding territory disputes to family violence, from gangs and delinquency to machismo and racism.

IMG_4663IMG_4660At the end of the evening, we drew our own hands and wrote down thoughts or actions that we can take to be more peaceful in our daily lives, or bring peace to our communities. Ideas included no bullying, no racism, being more tolerant, and acting with patience. IMG_6663

On the 21st of September, the actual date of International Peace Day, our Program Director Katie read everyone a book about our human rights, and teens created art that showed the rights most important to them, or that spoke to them the most. IMG_4727

Several teens commented after the evening event that they hadn’t thought about these topics in this way, or that they felt like they wanted to learn more about what is going on in different parts of the world.  Some others had not thought about some of the human rights that were included in the book we read during the art time. Even though International Peace Day only comes once a year, we dedicate every day to bettering our communities through small actions of peace, and learning about and respecting our neighbors, both locally and all over the world.


Student spotlight: Mycol

Almost everyone who has spent time at LLI knows who Maycol is. One of two twins, Maycol has been with LLI since 2012 with his brother Josue. LLI loves these brothers! A great artist, Maycol cites Art as his favorite LLI class :) But look out, he’s planning to be an engineer when he grows up!

Maycol sends a shout out to former LLI volunteers Veronica and Kari!

maycol reading maycol maycolchess