LLI’s Holiday Wrap Up

On Sunday, December 2nd, LLI finished out the year with a bang, celebrating the holiday season at our Education Center with over 100 of our children’s program participants and their siblings.

Our superstar teen volunteer was Angela, who planned and led an event for the entire day decorating Christmas trees with the kiddos:

!Angela with kids!

A rotating cast of teens helped with the second project: Decorating a Christmas bell. Here Dylan, one of our nearly 40 new kids’ program participants this year, is very focused on making the most beautiful bell possible:

!Dylan with cup!

And, of course, a Peruvian holiday party is not complete without panetón (fruit cake) and chocolatada (hot chocolate). Here, our ex-teen participant turned local volunteer with the most number of hours this year, Rildo, lovingly stirs the hot chocolate prepared by one of LLI’s longest serving staff members, Queta.

!Rildo with his hot chocolate!

Meanwhile, over at the Teen Center, parents also enjoyed fruit cake and hot chocolate with their littlest children while they patiently filled out our annual survey, which helps us gauge parent satisfaction with our programs and the impact our classes have on their children’s development. Some highlights from this year’s survey: 98.5% of parents said that LLI has helped their children perform better in school, while 76.9% of parents said they were ‘very likely’ to recommend LLI to a friend or family member.
!Hot hot chocolate!

After the survey comes the fun part: Choosing a Christmas gift for their sons and daughters who are participants in our program. This is a special moment for the parents and something that many of them look forward to all year round. We know it is not always easy for families to commit the time to attending weekly classes in addition to all their other responsibilities. The holiday party is our way of thanking the parents for the commitment they show to their children’s education and participating consistently in our classes throughout the year.

Of course, our teen participants play a big role here, as well: Helping the parents choose the gifts and then wrapping the gifts for them so their kids will have a surprise on Christmas day.

!Good picture of gift wrappers!

And, that’s a wrap! A special thanks to our event coordinator volunteer Catherine Thompson who organized the fundraiser for the holiday party that collected over $3000 (well above our goal!) The extra funds will go directly towards providing more high quality classes for our children’s program participants in 2019.

In addition, Catherine worked with our teen center participants to plan every aspect of our holiday party. She planned it so well, that even though she was sick during the actual festivities, the event still went off without a hitch.

Thank you to all of you who support LLI. With your help, we are working hand in hand with the community of Huaycán to develop its future leaders!

A very happy holidays from all of us here in Huaycán. ¡Felices fiestas a todos!

!Señoras con su regalo!


LLI’s #1 Sought After Program: English

When someone knocks on LLI’s (many) doors, they’re often seeking out a rumor or a tip they heard. “Quiero que mi hijo aprende ingles.” // I want my child to learn English. Ingles_Lisa (6)

Our English program has a longstanding history within the community: we’ve been teaching it almost 10 years and have offered thousands of classes. It was the first program we launched, again because those who wanted educational support always responded with “English” when asked what they wished to learn! Our mission has always been focused on responding to the needs of the community. This need was one we could help support immediately in 2009.

Why is English so popular? The English languages permeates many aspects of Peruvian culture and teens and parents alike often recognize it’s value: if you learn English, you might be able to get a better job–or communicate with someone from another country–or simply, understand one of your favorite songs. It’s additionally offered in schools here, though the quality of the instruction is often very lacking, so parents are seeking out opportunities for reinforcement for their kids. Moving beyond high school, universities require English skills and employers highly value the skill. Simply put, learning English is useful!

Don’t take our word for it. We asked Yeni, our Education Program Manager, her opinion on why our English program is important. Yeni is a licensed teacher and is local to Huaycan. She works with volunteer teachers (working in all programs) to help them craft an effective lesson plan, handle classroom management, and cross cultural barriers in the classroom. Here’s what she had to share:

For me, the English Program is so important because during my experience with LLI, what I have seen is that every week there are always teens and kids’ parents coming to our Education Center asking to be part of this program and to take clases.

First of all, I can understand why always kids and teens want to take English classes. It is because nowadays English is an in-demand language and also English classes from their schools aren’t taught very well and they do not have well prepared English teachers at school.  Second, English it is important for kids and teens because it helps them to improve their academic performance in this language at school.”

teacher mtg (6)
Yeni, who joined LLI’s team in January 2018, works with volunteers during a weekly teacher meeting.

We currently work with 93 kids and teens ages 7-17 years old within the program, offering free after school and weekend classes often taught by native speaking volunteers. Thanks to these volunteers, we’re able to keep classes going year round (with a short break in December). One of these teachers, Leslie, joined us in late August. We asked her why she decided to join us as a volunteer:

After a long career in business my retirement day finally arrived! What next?  It had long been an ambition to volunteer but how and where? First step was to take a Teaching English as a Foreign Language qualification as learning English is much in demand. Knowing some Spanish, and wanting to teach, Latin America seemed a good fit.  After searching the web (as everyone does nowadays) I was drawn to a volunteer position to Teach English in Huaycan. LLI had a photo of an ‘older’ volunteer on their website (not seen so often when checking out volunteer sites) so I thought ‘this is for me’.  And so it is. Signed up for a full cycle (term) it’s been a very fulfilling experience teaching kids from 7-17 English, wrestle with my lesson plans each week, live a more ‘communal’ life than usual, and on days off take in the wonderful sights in Peru. Even in later years stepping outside your comfort zone is very life affirming!”

Leslie working with our Kid’s English program, which operates after school and on Saturday and Sundays

English is a phenomenal tool for anyone who speaks a different language, though we recognize as an organización it’s not the only thing that defines our work nor is it the only need found within Huaycán. We consistently encourage kids and teens to explore our additional programs, like music, coding, and reading, plus take advantage of our homework help hours which spans all subjects!

Interested in joining us as a volunteer? We’re searching for volunteers for our English program to begin in January! Learn more and apply here!

How Two LLI Volunteers Keep Giving the Gift of Yoga…!

Yoga has made a comeback at LLI thanks to the Yoga and Wellness company Unlocked …and it’s amazing! Check out how it all came together…


LLI has been lucky to have a few dedicated companies who support us each year (check out our annual Alpaca Club list here to learn more) and thankfully this year, we’ve added Unlocked to the roster. Unlocked is a company dedicated to educating and empowering individuals through yoga, travel, wellness and self-study.  They host wellness retreats in the US and Peru, and collaborate with local and international non-profits (a-hem, Light and Leadership!) to raise money for projects in the communities in which their retreats take place. Unlocked also has an accessible and affordable online studio, the Unlocked Studio, where they offer videos on yoga, nutrition, meditation, sound healing and more.  Visit their brand new online studio here!

So what’s the connection between LLI and Unlocked, you ask? Meet Kari and Shelby, two former LLI Volunteers (and staff member) and owners of the Unlocked Studio:


Karilynn and Shelby, co-owners and co-founders of Unlocked, both spent time working with LLI over the past several years, starting in 2015. They were inspired by their experiences teaching yoga to children, teens, and women in Huaycán, and received great feedback from the community on the yoga classes and workshops. They decided to incorporate fundraising into Unlocked’s mission so that LLI would be able to hire a consistent yoga teacher, allowing Huaycán community members to continue their practice of mind, body, spirit connection through yoga.

We’ve been fortunate to have had volunteers who have come through our programs since Kari and Shelby left Huaycan to teach Yoga (like Lisa, this year! Thank you!), but thanks to funds raised by Unlocked, we were able to hire a consistent Peruvian yoga teacher, Nissa, for this final program session (September – December). This aligns with our goals of sustainability and hiring local–a win-win!

Now, meet Nissa!

foto 2With the donations received from Unlocked, we’ve hired Nissa part-time to teach yoga in our children’s program on Sundays! Nissa is a certified yoga teacher with several years of combined practice and teaching under her belt. She’s originally from the North of Peru, but moved to Lima after high school to pursue higher education.

“Estoy muy agradecida por la oportunidad de conocer a estos niños maravillosos,compartir con ellos y la organización. // I am so grateful for the opportunity to meet this amazing kids, share with them and the organization.” – Nissa

Nissa’s classes with kids are focused on the following:

1. Improving flexibility
2. Increasing strength
3. Strengthening muscles
4. Improving coordination
5. Discovering body awareness
6. Improving concentration
7. Learning to keep calm
8. Relaxing the mind
9. Encouraging a deep connection with the interior self
10. Developing an intimate relationship with the natural world
11. Developing empathy, companionship and friendship
12. Promoting respect of the environment, peace and love

Yoga is always a favorite class among participants and families and we’re excited to see how Nissa will continue to work with our participants! Bienvenida, Nissa!

Unlocked plans to continue to fundraise for LLI in 2019, so stay tuned for more yoga classes in Huaycán 🙂 🙂 🙂 ¡Gracias!

Chicago’s Leo Burnett Office Visits Huaywasi & LLI!

Volunteers listen to Alejandra, Huaywasi artisan, speak about her skill and craft outside her home.

Just a few weeks ago, LLI and Huaywasi (why-wa-si) had the pleasure of hosting four professional volunteers from the marketing firm Leo Burnett and public relations firm MSL Group, both located in Chicago.

Jumping way back to November 2017, the connection to both the companies came about thanks to LLI’s partner Unearth the World (UEW)–Kathryn Pisco, co-founder of UEW, was working on an idea for a volunteer trip abroad with Leo Burnett and together, Kathryn and LLI’s Executive Director Lara DeVries presented to the company what a potential volunteer commitment could look like through the lens of LLI/UEW. The result: a decision to move forward with a volunteer marketing proposal solely focused on Huaywasi, LLI’s fair trade artisan project, with Leo Burnett and MSL Group employees!

Moving way ahead to September 2018, four volunteers joined LLI in Peru for five days of learning, brainstorming and creating. Volunteers Colleen, Diana, Jessica, and Lily (all from Leo Burnett/MSL Group) started their time with LLI by assisting with our educational programs, like art, English, and more with kids’ and teens. This gave the group a wider view of what LLI does and also what Huaywasi supports (all profits from Huaywasi are filtered back into the education programs!).

Volunteer Colleen assists with Art class

The next few days were spent digging deep into the entire Huaywasi project, from meeting artisans directly and visiting their homes to learning first hand from our Executive Director the history of the project, including its strengths and struggles over the years. Volunteers then got to jump into the Women’s Program activities in the evening, including providing childcare for the program or participating in our business plan mentorship night. The week finished up with discussing next steps for Huaywasi and the continued collaboration between the volunteers and their respective companies.

A visit to the talented Herminia’s home showed off her own screen printing workshop.

A great big thank you to the four incredible volunteers and Unearth the World! Stay tuned for bigger changes for Huaywasi coming soon, thanks to the time and dedication from these volunteers!

Interested in checking out more from Huaywasi? Shop Huaywasi’s latest fall line now and use the promo code LLIBLOG15 for 15% off your purchase! Hurry though, this promo code is only good until the end of October 2018. Click on the promo code to have the discount automatically added to your cart! Limit one per customer.


Farewell, Anthony!

Our beloved volunteer program manager, Anthony, will be departing LLI to embark on another journey in Utah for the next year. Anthony has been such a blessing to LLI and our programs and he will be dearly missed.

We have all shared our favorite memories and well wishes for Anthony below.

“Anthony! Mi pata, mi causa. Has hecho de Huaycán mi hogar, me has hecho sentir una hermana, compañera de conciertos y de risas. Compartir contigo un año completo ha sido un regalo que atesoro. Te has preocupado de mi bienestar y del todos y cada uno de los voluntarios que han pasado por LLI con un cariño muy especial. Tu labor ha sido inmensa y serás recordado por mucha gente con mucho amor, incluida yo. Sé que nuestros caminos se van a volver a cruzar, quizás en un concierto de Cuchillazo, quizás en una playa en España, quizás en una manifestación en Lima, quizás en Huaycán de nuevo. Te quiero como al pollo broster. Sigue luchando, sigue sonriendo, nos vemos en el camino hermano!” – Irene

“Hi Anthony! I am so glad I was the first volunteer to offer you a Pisco already at the airport pickup. A kickstart for my 3 months in Peru, during which you where always there to help me. Like lending me your bicycle with which I went to ride the streets of Huaycan, battling with the dogs and mototaxis. And after few weeks of hesitation you got me playing soccer on Sunday nights. It was hard but it really did me good. It really helped me feel more at home in Huaycan. And then we went rocking in Vivo X El Rock! Cuchillazo es la bestia! All in all, I really admire you being so young and living life to the fullest. Keep on going, dude, hyvää työtä!” – Juha

Anthony Sandra and Juha en la puntaAnthony, Sandra and Juha doing an after work climb to “la punta”. “I consider myself to be in good shape but Anthony sure knows how to climb the hills.”- Juha

“Gracias por estos días en Huaycan, lo he pasado muy bien disfrutando de tu compañía. Cómo ya te conté fueron pocos días pero bueno. En mi país hay un dicho que dice: lo bueno si breve, dos veces bueno”. Creo que tu labor fue ejemplar des del primer momento, viniéndome a recoger al aeropuerto a las tantas de la mañana, siempre estando por la casa para resolver todo tipo de dudas… Estoy convencido que te va a ir muy bien en USA. Espero que puedas disfrutar mucho además de trabajar.
Lo pasé muy bien contigo subiendo el cerro, en la excursión a Matucana y jugando a fútbol. Me llevo unos lindos recuerdos a casa.
Un abrazo desde España,”
Igor Rodríguez-Acosta Docio
“Querido Anthony, te deseo con todo mi corazón que puedas alcanzar tus metas en la vida, y aunque no puedas, igual que seas feliz. Tienes un alma grande grande y el poder de cuidar las otras personas como si fueran hermanos. Los recuerdos más lindos que llevaré conmigo de todo un año de trabajo contigo, son las pequeñas cosas diarias pero que podían cambiar el trascurso de todo un día: las granadillas, la música, las canciones y la bulla que siempre venía de nuestra oficina, las bromas y las risas. No podía esperar en un compañero de cuarto más divertido! De aquí en adelante cada vez que escucharé Vilma Palma te pensaré! Jejejeje Un abrazo fuerte y mucha mucha suerte!” – Elisa
“Anthony! Thank you for making my time in Peru so special. You were the first person I met, and the first person so many volunteers meet. You welcomed us into the amazing country of Peru and made us feel so at home. I don’t know how you managed to be there for every volunteer in the house, but somehow you were there for everyone, whenever they needed you. Even though I was there for a short time, I was able to get so many memories with you. The Women’s March in Lima, Sunday night soccer, long talks around the house, and walking through town, were all moments I’m really grateful for. My favorite memory of our time together was when you walked with me to make sure that crazy dog Gringo wouldn’t kill me. Thanks for that! You made sure everyone was safe, and also made sure people explored the beautiful country of Peru. I couldn’t imagine my time there without you, friend! I know you will be greatly missed, but I’m also glad you’re coming to the States for a year!!! I’m ready for our road trip. See you soon”- Alyse
“Dear Anthony,
Thank you so much for the time we had together. You’re such an amazing person! Also I like your taste in Music. Not all of it.. but some..:)  I think our most funniest moment together was, when you clicked the toilet and no one realized until the whole first floor was deep in poop water! That was awesome.  You will make a great job over in the states! I truly believe in you! But don’t live there to long..you know they have this weird looking bird man, with the funny hair.  I hope you come to Europe soon so that I can take you to a festival!  Thanks for all your clothes at marcahuasi!”- Leni
“Bonjour Anthony, je suis tellement contente que tu puisses suivre ton rêve de retourner aux Etats-Unis ! Tu mérites les meilleures choses dans la vie car tu es quelqu’un d’exceptionnel. We’ve had a few adventures together that I will never forget and I will always keep those memories close to my heart. Me encanta conocerte y decir que somos amigos. ¡Suerte! Kisses to you both and the rest of the gang as well.” – Justine
“I remember a much younger Anthony when I first started volunteering in Huaycan. To see him mature into the individual who worked with LLI to help others was a very uplifting experience. I am _very_ proud to have worked with him, and I highly suspect that those fortunate enough to work with him in his new endeavors will feel similarly. Many congratulations, Anthony, for being one of the people who have re-affirmed my trust in humanity! You’ve made my life better in doing so 🙂 “— John
“Dear Anthony, thank you for the warm welcome and a good care, which you gave to me, when I arived to Huaycan! The 4hours trip from Lima’s Airport will stay in my mind for long time 🙂  All my best wishes to your future life, may it be rich in every way!!
Love, Auli”- Auli

“Antonio 🙂 – Aunque a veces puedas ser muy malo la mayoria de las veces sos muy bueno. Gracias por aguantarme estos ultimos casi 8 meses en Huaycan… aunque espero que Ximena me trate como la reina que merezco (y que me de mi arroz con leche una vez por semana..)… Ha sido todo un placer trabajar con vos y encima disfrutar de un monton de actividades fuera del trabajo juntos, sobre todo subiendo al cerro querido 🙂 Los primeros meses por unas razones fueron algo duros para mi, pero conociendo a gente buena siempre ayuda a uno levantar el animo. Y eso justamente sos, una persona muy buena. Ya se que vas a tener mucho exito en el futuro, no solo porque sos un chico inteligente y trabajador pero porque sabes crear tus propios oportunidades y aprovecharte de ellos. Vencer el miedo y aprovecharse de las oportunidades es algo que no todo el mundo puede hacer (eso sabemos nosotras las señoras…), y me alegra mucho saber que justamente es eso que vas a hacer, ir hacia lo desconocido en Estados Unidos 🙂 Gracias por el tiempo que pasamos juntos en Huaycan y ojala sigamos siendo amigos por muchoooos años más, Te voy a extrañar un montooon :)”  –Sandra

“Felicidades Anthony! Congrats on taking the next step! La segunda parte de mi tiempo trabajando en LLI cambio totalmente gracias a ti. Tu lo hiciste un super buen trabajo de bienvenir a cada voluntario que vino. No importa de donde pais son, o que idioma hablan, conectaste con cada persona.  Me siento muy afortunada haberte conocido. Your positivity and humor touches everyone everywhere you go. Thank you for being such a great friend and always correcting my Spanish!! I cannot wait to see you and Cindy in the US!  Un abrazo fuerte”-  Caro




“Hola, Anthony🤗❤
Te he conocido hace muuchos años “Enero del 2012” y ahora estamos “Septiembre 2018”.
Estoy muy feliz de conocerte, eres un joven maravilloso y humilde. También estoy muy contenta de haber compartido tiempo como en las clases y en el trabajo de LLI, lo cual me llena de mucha felicidad. Gracias por todo lo que hiciste en LLI. También, gracias por la paciencia y amabilidad que tuviste con todos nosotros que aún nos quedamos. Te deseo muchos éxitos en todo lo que te propongas hacer y cuídate mucho.
Te vamos a extrañar un montón mi querido Anthony.”
   😎 – Yeni DS
“Since the moment I started at Light and Leadership, you have been the first person I went to when I had a question, when a sink exploded or when a door wouldn’t unlock, basically to solve any problem, big or small. You are so caring and dedicated to the volunteers, always remembering birthdays, goodbye cards, organizing nights out or hikes up the mountain or football Sundays. Also, I am so happy with all that you have done to revitalize the local volunteer program. You have worked hard to make local volunteers feel more integrated with Light and Leadership and understand our goals and values. I think the relationships you have helped develop with local volunteers will continue long after you are gone.  It will be so hard to replace you, Anthony. I miss you already and I hope you have an amazing, incredible time in the US! Also, I couldn’t close without sharing with you my favorite memory of our time together: The time we rescued Bridget from the bathroom…I will never forget the look on her face when we finally got the door open 🙂 Un abrazo fuerte mi amigo. Y gracias por todo que has hecho para mí y para la organización!” – Emma
“Anthony, thank you so much for your incredible work at the Light And Leadership initiative. I felt more comfortable when you assisted picking up at the airport. We made some great memories and my favourite were playing football every week, singing at the karaoke bar and our camping trip with señor and señorita caca! I wish you the best in your future. Best wishes!” – Charlie


“Anthony! I feel so lucky that I got to know you and spend so much time with you during my time in Peru. My best memory I had with you are definitely all those times we spent watching Friends and Disney movies and just hanging out at the VH. Also I will never forget the day we spent in Mistura with Bryan eating all those samples of chocolate… I’m sorry if sometimes we made fun of you, but you know it’s only beause we u. (The house- and Huaycan-tour you gave me were unforgettable!!!!) Enjoy your new adventures in USA and thank you for all you’ve done for us volunteers. And most importantly, thank you for being a friend.”- Julia

“Oye bacteria! Gracias por tanto: basicamente siendo nuestro papá a todas nosotras chicas, cuidandonos, orientando los que están perdido por la 15, santa clara, chaclacayo, chosica y más, dandonos risa por lo que te importan de la casa (“frutas bien bonita arreglado en el bowl por favor”), y por tu elección de karaoke (“I’m gonna fucking tear you apart” *screaming*), apoyando a todos los voluntarios de LLI, y enseñandonos las jergas más importantes. Cheers for looking after us this year and for looking out for me the 5 months I was here, I wish you all the best in the USA, keep rockin’!!”- Lisa

“Anthony, thank you for being the most self-less volunteer and friend any of us could have asked for. Your determination to make sure that we all felt supported, understood, and happy was truly one of a kind. Eras una de las personas con quien me senti mas comoda y mas como mi misma durante mi tiempo en Huaycan. Eres super gracioso, y tus ganas de compartir tu cultura y aprender sobre otras culturas son unicas. LLI is lucky to have had you, and all of us who got to spend time with you in Peru are even luckier!! Se que no te gusta nada que siempre te diga esto, pero: YOU’RE THE BEST!” – Gia

“Anthony, I’m so happy that I worked with  you this year again, at once when picking me up at airport I felt like coming home to see good friends. Thank you for good conversations, teaching me Spanish patiently, letting me join you to go to the big market, listening stories with interest and especially every time we listened to Coldplay! I’m so sure this is not goodbye, just to see you later. Until then I wish you all the best in your future! – !Que tengas buena suerte en todas las cosas!” –Heidi

Anthony, our dear Anthony! You will be sorely missed here. I have known this day would come, but it’s hard now that it has finally arrived. You have been such an amazing team member and ambassador for LLI’s programs, I just can’t thank you enough. You are an excellent example to the kids and teens in our program, as well as our entire volunteer group and staff. You have given beyond what was asked for you within this position and took it on to be your own. I’m grateful for the extra hours you put in week after week and the “extra mile” you always go for a volunteer to welcome them to Peru.  I know I will see you many times again in the future, but wish you the utmost success in the U.S. and whatever comes after.  Thanks again and I’ll see you in Chicago!!!! -Lara

Thank you for all you have given to LLI, Anthony!  We hope to see you again in the future!

HUAYWASI SALE- Last Chance!!

Don’t miss out on the opportunity to take advantage of Huaywasi’s big summer sale and save on some of the gorgeous summer styles handcrafted by our talented artisans.  Here are some of my favorite picks from the sale!  Find yours before it’s too late!


Correa Tank- Only $25.00!


Victoria Jumpsuit- Only $40.00!


Alba Handwoven Headband- Only $16.00!

Find your favorites here and get them before the sale ends on August 31st! https://www.huaywasi.com

Did you know that all profits generated from Huaywasi go back into the Women’s Empowerment Program as well as our other educational programs for children and teens?


Want to learn more about the talented artisans behind our beautifully handcrafted products?  Check them out here: https://www.huaywasi.com/pages/the-artisans




A Heartfelt Goodbye and Warm Welcome

Today, we want to express our deepest gratitude and warmest wishes to two of our dedicated and cherished volunteers who will be leaving us this month.  Elisa and Irene have given countless hours over the past year, making a tremendous impact on LLI and our programs.  We’d like to highlight some of their work, share some of our favorite memories with them, and send them off with our best wishes!

Irene has served as the Kid’s Program Manager for the past year, not only taking charge of the day-to-day tasks, but also overseeing the major aspects of the Kid’s programs. Working with volunteers and staff to carry out programs like homework hours, chess, English, sports, reading, and more, Irene has had a HUGE impact on our organization, but most of all, on the amazing LLI kiddos we work with!


Elisa has been serving as LLI’s Volunteer Communications Manager. She joined LLI before this position even existed! She carved out a spot for herself on the LLI team, making her role now indispensable to the future of our organization and setting the tone for the next program manager. Elisa was the first contact for all of our volunteers since August and helped welcome them to Peru, and thus, making sure our programs continued without interruption. Plus, her lightheartedness and laughter made working with her presence on LLI’s team pure joy.


Here are some special memories and well wishes from some of us who have worked closely with Elisa and Irene!

Irene: You have an amazing talent with kids and I am ever grateful that you shared that talent with LLI. So many kids have been impacted by you, day in, day out. You’ve been an incredible addition to our team and I can’t imagine the E.C. without you now! A heartfelt thank you for what you have done for LLI and I hope to one day visit you in Madrid (si te encuentras por allá, ¡quien sabe..!) – Lara

Elisa: I will greatly miss your laughter and your incredible personality. You have added so much to our organization and I think we will definitely feel it when you are gone.  I am personally also grateful for the opportunity to work directly with you and the patience you demonstrated while creating this new position. You didn’t have much guidance other than weekly check ins with me and I am so impressed how you took the work on to be your own. Gracias por todo, ¡nos vemos en Torino, pues!- Lara



Irene, mi chula bonita:

Tu sabes cuánto te quiero y admiro. El impacto que has tenido en Huaycán, no es más que prueba de tu enorme presencia a donde quiera que vas. Nunca dudes de que tus huellas dejan marca, y nunca te  olvides de que lo que mejor sabes hacer, es dar amor. Para que lo sepas, tu personalidad, tus opiniones y la pasión con la que vives la vida, me han inspirado profundamente, y me han reconfortado y ayudado a seguir en tiempos difíciles.

Gracias por eso, por todas las pláticas en la azotea, las risas, los apapachos y confidencias, pero sobretodo, gracias por ser mi hermana de vida.

No sé que siga en tu camino, pero estoy segura de que las personas que te rodeen en la siguiente etapa, serán de lo más afortunadas por tenerte cerca.

Te mando todo mi cariño. A 25 horas en bus de donde te encuentras, hay una mexicana que te lleva en el corazón.

Te amo Irene. – Lorena 

Bella Elisa:

He sido muy afortunada de conocerte, aunque haya sido por un corto periodo de tiempo. Eres una mujer fuerte, hermosa y apasionada. Admiro mucho tu compromiso con todo lo que haces y tu enorme corazón.

Estoy segura que la vida te tiene preparadas muchas buenas sorpresas. Ojalá una de ellas sea que volvamos a coincidir jajajaja.

Un abrazo fuertísimo y que venga lo mejor.- Lorena

Irene: Muchas gracias por estos meses que pasamos juntas (Homeland sobre todo..), ya se que te va a ir muy bien estes donde estes. Adelante las feminazis 🙂 – Sandra

Gracias por toda la buena onda Elisa !  Va a ser muy raro sin vos aca. Que te vaya muy muy muy bien en el futuro 🙂 – Sandra

Amigas siempre y saludos de Finlandia- Paula

Irene, I am so grateful that you were here with me throughout my first year at LLI. You have been a wonderful coworker and I have learned so much from you. You have also, from the very beginning, been committed to the well-being and development of our participants and their families. I know that every single parent has felt how committed you are to the success of their children. I will never forget the last parent meeting we had when more than 50 parents filled the EC…you have truly increased the effectiveness of the Kids´ Program and especially the outreach to our families, and I believe your impact here will be felt for a long time to come. I will miss your honesty and your clear understanding of the importance of high quality education for the future of our participants. Also your radical feminism 🙂 I know you will find an incredible job that will take full advantage of all your skills and where you can make an even greater impact. –Emma
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Elisa: My favoirte Italian! I will miss your humor, your wild laugh, your positive attitude, and your unique way of looking at the world. I can´t imagine Luz y Liderazgo without you. My favorite memory with you is when you read those beautiful poems in Quecha during the talent show at the Teen Center.  You have such a sensitive outlook on the world and a nuanced understanding of culture and the ethics of international volunteering. I wish we could keep you around longer, but I look forward to seeing where you end up in the future…and also of visiting you in your native land! Ciao bella!-Emma
Elisa MC con Maria Puma

To you both: I am so happy that both of you were here when I arrived. I have loved watching your beautiful friendship and the way you interact together and I have so appreciated both of your support while I was learning about the organization and figuring out how to position Luz y Liderazgo for the future. You two are both very special people and I hope you keep your strong bond of friendship for the rest of your lives. -Emma

Girl power! That’s what these beautiful girls have brought to me, house and everybody!

Thank you Elisa for picking me up from airport. Thank you for Santa Clara visits and having lunch on a leaf there! Elisa you always help in everything! Thank you for morning walks on mountain down on vegetables field! And for teaching to buy small eggs from a lovely lady in the corner of 15. ♡♡♡

Thank you Irene for playing the best the Fish bowl and Game of resistance. You are my best partner within as we understand each other so well! Thank tou gir being the best of the best bosses for me at Kids centre in Reading, homework, games and chess!

I love you both, I will miss you so much if I can come to be part of the Light and Leadership again next year! Elisa & Irene; love and light and rainbows to you. -Heidi


Thank you again, Elisa and Irene!!!

We would also like to give a warm welcome to Ian and Brynn who will be joining us in Program Development and as our new Kid’s Program manager!

Interested in volunteering or interning with LLI? Check out our volunteer program here and apply online!

LLI Collab With MAC!

Over the past several months, LLI has been fortunate to work with Galerie Younique, French artist and photographer Georges Rousse and the Contemporary Art Museum in Lima (MAC: Museo de Arte Contemporaneo)! See how it all came about below!

In February, the Galerie Younique team and Georges Rousse joined LLI in Huaycan to check out the Zone S community building, where LLI has held weekly classes since 2011. Artist Rousse was on the hunt for an inspiring building to photograph and utilize has his feature piece in an upcoming exhibit at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Lima. The Zone S building turned out to be it! They spent the day photographing and documenting the experience.

Fast forward to May, when the collaboration between Rousse and Galerie Younique resulted in a new donated community building for Zone S! The old building was transported to the museum and installed for Rousse’s exhibition (more on that later!). A replacement building was much needed, especially when considering LLI’s classroom experience… it had many years of good use, but things like a broken lock/door, a hole in the wall letting dogs in to the classes, etc, were getting to be a bit much for the learning experience!

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LLI’s team checking out the new building in Zone S!

The community hosted Rousse, Galerie Younique and the LLI team for the inauguration of the new building, complete with delicious (and traditional) Pachamanca, prepared in the ground. It was an amazing gesture on behalf of the community and a great way to celebrate Rousse’s donation. The building is complete with drywall (!), a complete roof.

In late May, LLI’s team joined Rousse and the Galerie Younique team at the “Puntos de Vista” exhibit opening night, in celebration of Rousse’s work and in addition, his generous collaboration with LLI. We are beyond grateful for the donations collected that night as well from museum go-ers, all of which will be supporting the Zone S community.

The Zone S building transported to the Museum! Amazing to see!
A peek inside Rousse’s work with the Zone S building.

Two months later in July, thanks to Galerie Younique’s connection to the Museum of Contemporary Art, Zone S kiddos were invited to view the exhibit and experience the museum! In total, 17 LLI participants plus 5 adults had the amazing and exciting experience of the field trip (Barranco is far from Huaycan!), all provided by the Museum. We are so grateful!

Irene, our dedicated Kids’ Program Manager who led the field trip, explained, 
“The visit was wonderful. They (the kids) were fascinated by the art, they wanted to touch everything and see everything… the kids had never had the opportunity to go to a museum. They didn’t even know such a thing as an art museum existed, they expected bones and dinosaurs!”

A heartfelt Thank You to Georges Rousse, Galerie Younique and the Museo de Arte Contemporaneo in Lima for their generosity and collaboration to benefit LLI, Zone S, and all of Huaycán!

LLI Volunteers Stay Involved: Facebook Fundraising!

This month, we want to recognize some of our amazing volunteers! Volunteers are essential to LLI’s success.  Not only do they help sustain our various programs, but they also help raise awareness and support for our organization.  These awesome volunteers below did both! Learn more about their volunteer experiences in their own words (and photos) and their decisions to fundraise for LLI via Facebook below.

Meet Sarah! 

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Sarah is a Ph.D. student studying Sociocultural Anthropology and her research is based in Huaycán.

What made you decide to volunteer? What did you do with LLI and when?

What really attracted me to LLI was the description for the House Manager position. I loved the idea of working with volunteers from all over the world, while also supporting LLI’s programming in Huaycán. Huaycán in itself was also a big attraction. I had previously lived on the coast of Lima and was overwhelmed by the size of the city. Based on the videos LLI produced, I imagined Huaycán would be a smaller neighborhood, with a deeper sense of community. Fortunately, that assumption was spot on.

During my first year with LLI, as the House Manager, I took on a number of tasks. First and foremost, I was responsible for taking care of the Volunteer House. This meant making sure that bills were paid and that volunteers had food, toilet paper, and any other daily needs. I also picked up volunteers from the airport, ran volunteers excursions, and ensured all was good with our local staff. Additionally, I was heavily involved in LLI’s programming. Working with Franzie Weil, I helped restart our Women’s Program. I also started the first computer course and began the first consistent English class up in Zone S. During several return trips, I helped teach English in Zone D.

What impacted you most or stands out to you most from your volunteer experience?

My most valued experience as an LLI volunteer was running the computer class with seven truly amazing women: Dina, Queta, Ana, Silvia, Margarita, Violeta, and Ruth. Those hours were filled with endless amounts of laughter and sharing. It was also an important learning experience for us all. I was happy to focus on a topic which provided a practical skill to the participants and it was my first experience designing and teaching a semester-long curriculum.

How did volunteering inspire your decision to raise money for LLI via Facebook?

Since first finishing my position as the House Manager in August 2011, I have returned to Huaycán on six different occasions. Each time I return, I am able to chat with local friends who are either participants themselves or have children in LLI’s programs. The value they place on LLI never ceases to amaze me. It is for them and our local staff that I wanted to try the fundraiser. I am not available to volunteer at the moment, but it’s an important way I can continue to contribute to LLI’s educational goals.

What kind of response did you receive from your fundraiser? Did the fundraiser spark any interest in LLI from others?

I was shocked by the success of the fundraiser. I was initially hoping to raise $100 in contributions, but this goal was surpassed within a few hours. In the end, the fundraiser brought in $481. What was most exciting is that I received several donations from people who knew nothing about my long-time relationship with LLI. This would suggest that these Facebook Fundraisers may be an important tool for raising small amounts of money, while also bringing important awareness to LLI’s mission in Huaycán.

If you could tell people one thing about LLI or your experience, what would it be?

What constantly brings me back to Huaycán are the people. I have learned more from our program participants then I will ever be able to offer them as a teacher. Nonetheless, I’m grateful that the skills I do have, have been able to facilitate a reciprocal learning experience both inside and outside of the classroom.

Meet John! IMG_7294

John has been a volunteer and supporter of LLI since 2014 and has volunteered in Huaycán through LLI 5 times! John plans to return to Huaycán and continue his volunteer journey with LLI next year.

How did you learn about LLI?

I’ve always been very interested in children’s education, especially those with the least access to it despite being just as bright / capable as any other child. I quite like traveling and experiencing different cultures and peoples, and in 2013 I started looking for opportunities where I could see a different part of the world while helping in a more personal way than just contributing to the local economy as a tourist. So, I asked Google about places I could go where I could help kids, and LLI was one of the first search results that jumped out at me. To this day, I’m very glad that it did. (We are too, John!)

What impacted you most or stands out to you the most from your volunteer experience?

The most impactful experiences were with the kids, seeing how their eyes lit up when I showed them how to write a video game in Scratch, or how to make an Android app that let them doodle on their friends. They had a great time, and I got the impression that they had never considered that they could make their own video games or Android apps before. Seeing them realize that they were as smart as any other kid in any other part of the world, and were just as capable, continues to lift me.

How did volunteering inspire your decision to raise money for LLI via Facebook?

I  deeply believe in the vision and mission of LLI, as well as every one of us participating in making said vision real. I will continue to use any avenue at my disposal to support it.

What kind of response did you receive from your fundraiser? Did the fundraiser spark any interest in LLI from others?

Many friends contributed, and many others said that they finally had an idea of why LLI and Huaycan were so important to me. Though I’ve several friends who have expressed interest in volunteering, many of them have families or other obligations that limit their ability to do so, while others are interested but still uncommitted. Still, I often talk about Huaycan and my experiences there, so I’m hopeful that they’ll make the decision to volunteer themselves eventually.

If you could tell people one thing about LLI or your experience, what would it be? 

I would (and do) tell people that the kids in Peru can create and have created Android apps. Some express disdain for, or look down upon, the people of developing economies or countries that are nowhere near as wealthy as the USA, and I then ask these people how many Android apps they’ve made. The response is always telling, as those who believe in the power of humanity and children everywhere cheer, and those who don’t are suddenly very quiet and skulk away.

I know it’s a big decision to volunteer in Huaycan. I know it’s likely way outside of your comfort zone and current experience, and that you’re maybe not sure if you can do it. I say: you _can_ do it, and if you’re genuine, the kids will love you for it. If for whatever reason you can’t volunteer in person, your support of those same kids does wonders for them. These kids will make discoveries that we can’t yet fathom, and they’ll face problems – and find solutions – that continually vex us. The world will be theirs soon enough, and these kids are worth _every_ affordance we can give them to make the most of their passions and skills to make said world a better place for everyone.

Meet Javier!

“I taught them how to say ‘I am happy’. They taught me what it meant.” Javier shared this photo of the kids celebrating passing their English exams.

Javier is from Pittsburgh, PA and a proud Colombian-American. He is a program manager for a small non-profit in Pittsburgh where graduate students design and implement community service projects.  He loves traveling and, in addition to his time in Peru and Colombia, has volunteered in Cameroon as well as Arizona for a year with Americorps.

“My mother, who is from Colombia, has always been my number one inspiration in life. Along with my family in Colombia, they have had an immeasurable influence on me, instilling in me values of hard-work, being grateful for what I have, and putting others first.”

What made you decide to volunteer? What did you do with LLI and when?

Upon learning of LLI’s work, it fit my ideal volunteer experience. I’ve always loved working with kids, and prefer working with grass-roots organizations where one’s work is magnified. There’s no “hiding” like you might be able to in a larger organization, and it demands hard-work and commitment every day. So in that sense it was a match made in heaven. During my time with LLI (I think 8 months in 2014, and I went back just for a brief visit in 2015), I taught a myriad of subjects to all age groups. I naturally taught a lot of English classes, a few math classes or private math tutoring, and even some chess classes.

What impacted you most or stands out to you most from your volunteer experience?

Looking back on the whole experience years later, the thing that strikes me the most is how welcomed LLI volunteers were by the community. Parents of the kids I taught would always invite me to their home for a snack or a meal. Almost immediately upon arriving, I began playing soccer 2-3 times a week with the students around my age. Other folks like the house security guards and I would chat for hours at night, or go out for some food on their off days. I could list examples all day, but they truly treated us strangers like family.

How did volunteering inspire your decision to raise money for LLI via Facebook?

Obviously a first-hand experience like volunteering with an organization is the easiest way to be inspired to continue to support that organization. Getting to know everyone who works for LLI, seeing first-hand the impact that is made, etc. It’s also important to me, in any non-profit that I support, knowing that my donation or the donations of my family/friends aren’t going towards an executive director making an outrageous salary. Equally as important is knowing that LLI supports the local economy by hiring within the community. I know the donations are going directly to the cause that I want to support.

What kind of response did you receive from your fundraiser? Did the fundraiser spark any interest in LLI from others?

As for the response my birthday fundraiser got, it was certainly more than I expected, both in terms of the amount raised and the number of donations received. What touched me the most though, was the diversity of those who donated. One donation I received for example, was from a friend who I literally had not talked to since high school, and that was well over a decade ago!

If you could tell people one thing about LLI or your experience, what would it be?

As for anyone thinking about volunteering, I can’t recommend the experience enough. It’s an experience that will set you apart, professionally and personally. You will make a difference, and you will be inspired. Take the leap, I promise you won’t regret it.

Wow!  How exciting to learn about some of LLI’s different volunteers and the great work they are doing! Do you want to help support LLI through a Facebook fundraiser like Sarah, John, and Javier? Learn how below!

How to create a Facebook fundraiser: 

  • Click Fundraisers in left menu of your News Feed
  • Click Raise Money for a Nonprofit Organization
  • Click Get Started
  • Under Select Nonprofit, start typing Light and Leadership Initiative into the search bar until it pops up and then click on it
  • Choose a fundraising goal and share why you are fundraising for LLI
  • Start your fundraiser!

Here are some tips from Sarah and Javier for fundraising on Facebook:

“When you create the fundraiser, personalize your story, explaining from your heart why LLI is important to you (but don’t make it too long). Also, people value aesthetics…use a strikingly beautiful picture.”- Sarah

“As for anyone who would like to do the same, my advice would be: fundraising essentially rests on your ability to tell a story. Tell your story with sincerity. Tell it with passion. Tell your audience why the cause is important to you. If you’re a former volunteer, it’s easy. Tell your audience why you volunteered, and why you continue to believe in the organization.”- Javier

Fundraisers are essential to keeping LLI’s programs up and running!  One area where LLI needs funding is for their children’s programs.  Funds raised would help provide the much needed supplies and resources for reading, art, science, sports, and so much more!

Thank you Sarah, John, and Javier for volunteering, fundraising, and for sharing your stories with us!

Needed: YOU! Volunteer Needs Coming Up!

LLI is searching for Volunteers! Join us in a wide array of opportunities, from fashion design to English teaching to working with teens and events. Check out our current opportunities listed below, from June 2018 and onwards and get the full run down of our volunteer program here.

Kids’ Program Manager

Looking for an internship and a long term commitment with LLI? We’re searching for a strong Spanish speaker who has experience working with kids, preferably in an education setting. Join us in late July and commit 12 months! Email vcm@lightandleadership.org for the full position description and to apply.

Reading program

Join us in our reading program as a lead reading program volunteer! Help us manage our library, which offers kids the opportunity to read books at our education center several times a week. Encourage a reading for pleasure environment, share your passion for reading and help improve students’ reading comprehension! At least intermediate Spanish skills are preferred. There are opportunities available to help in other programs as well, in addition to this placement. Ready to apply? Do it here.

Dates: Either from 4th of July – 29th of August or 29th of August – 5th of December (or both!)

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Sports/Phys. Ed teacher

Be ready to get involved with our physical education program! Do you have experience in the physical education field, either playing, coaching or working as a professional? This could be the placement for you! Help our LLI kiddos learn new skills and teamwork, all while being healthy outside! At least Basic Spanish skills are strongly encouraged for this placement. Join us and apply here.

Dates: either 25th of July – 29th of August or 29th of August – 5th of December

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English Teacher

The Light and Leadership Initiative is in need of English teachers to start in late August. You’ll be teaching several English classes a week to kids and teens in our after school programs, plus play games, read, and do other fun activities with our students! Previous teaching or tutoring experience is a big plus for this position, though no matter what you’ll receive bi-weekly lesson plan support and check-ins from our amazing local staff. Apply now, limited spots available!

Dates: 29th August – 5th December

Chess teacher

Description: Chess is one of LLI’s longest running programs and has one of the most dedicated groups of students. LLI works with students ages 7-12 years old and teens ages 13-17, teaching skills ranging from the absolute basics to more intermediate/advanced skills, depending on the group of students. Apply here!

Dates: 29th of August – 5th December

Teen Program Assistant

Do you speak intermediate Spanish and enjoy working with teens? This placement might be just right for you! Join our teen center program and help out in everything from leading special events (like movie nights or culture nights, pictured!), assisting with our leadership program, running our front desk, and of course, hanging out with some of the coolest teens on the planet. Join us by applying here.

Dates: Flexible. Join us in June, July, August or onwards! Ideal commitment is minimum 8 weeks.

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Huaywasi Fashion Design Intern

Did you know LLI has a fair trade project, called Huaywasi? We’re calling all fashion designers to join us in Huaycan and learn first hand what it takes to design and work alongside some amazing female artisans. High beginner Spanish is strongly encouraged as you’ll be working with our Peruvian artisans and staff. Ready to apply? Do so here.

Dates: Flexible. Join us in June, July, August or onwards! Ideal commitment is minimum 8 weeks.

Questions? Contact Elisa, Volunteer Communications Manager, at vcm@lightandleadership.org. We hope to see your application!

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