Robots in the Classroom!

This is a guest article by long-time LLI volunteer, John Zorko

John Zorko sharing a smile with teen participant Rubi and Cue the robot

The kids in Huaycan have been learning Scratch for almost 5 years now. While Scratch is an incredible tool for teaching kids how to code using actual Computer Science concepts like loops, functions, conditionals, variables, processes / threads, etc., Scratch code can’t run anywhere but the Scratch website / desktop application. I thought it would be cool to introduce the kids who have already learned Scratch to something more advanced, that was more real-world while also retaining the fun element of Scratch.

Enter Cue, a small robot from Wonder Workshop. Cue can be programmed via a Scratch-like blocks interface, but it can also be programmed in JavaScript, which is a well-supported textual programming language that is used for everything from building websites to controlling devices (like robots). With 6 Cue robots and 6 more ChromeBooks, kids can now get a basic idea of robotics as well as textual programming.

While the first class was all about introducing the students to Cue and its programming environment, subsequent classes introduced more advanced concepts like functions and variables. Each class ends with an exercise where the students need to make their robots race one another, and the exercise – hence the race – gets more interesting as they learn these new concepts. Having each class end this way incentivizes the students to work together in teams of 2, using the concepts learned in the class to make their robot run and finish the race as fast as possible.

Kids get ready to race their robots

Some of my favorite moments include when I begin teaching a concept in a lesson plan, and the students immediately grasp it and begin exploring what else they can do with the robots, often jumping ahead of the lesson plan. One great thing about kids and coding is that they’re natural explorers, and coding is a very creative (as well as technical) endeavor. I’ve had to adapt the lesson plans to allow the kids plenty of time to explore after I teach them a concept, and I believe it really helps them to learn what’s possible much quicker.

Teens use Java Script to code their robot

One of the great things about Cue is that this class can serve as a jumping off point for either more advanced coding or robotics. Some students may really enjoy coding, perhaps in the future learning more JavaScript for other applications, or other textual coding languages like Swift, Kotlin, or C. Other students may really enjoy robotics in particular, perhaps in the future learning how to create their own robots, or learning how robots work for things like factories or self-driving cars. I’m hopeful that the Robotics / JavaScript class at LLI will allow students to further realize that technology can not only be a great career, but a lot of fun as well.


Thank You Brynn, Ian and Yara: Managers of the Year!

Thank you to our managers who are finishing their year with us: Brynn (2nd from left), Ian (3rd from right) and Yara (2nd from right)

LLI has always been fortunate to have so many good, kind, generous people join our organization in Huaycán, bringing their ideas, energy and dedication to provide high quality education for our kids, teens and women participants.

This past year, we have been triply blessed with three outstanding managers who have pushed to increase the impact of our programs, livened up the volunteer house with their smiles, and most importantly, have approached their time here with a drive to learn, commitment to the community, and love and care for our participants, for our volunteers, and for each other. We’d like to recognize their work, relive some favorite memories and wish them all the best of luck for the future. You will be dearly missed here in Huaycán, chicos!

Brynn has served as our Kids’ Program Manager since August, 2018. She hit the ground running after just a day of training and focused on improving the quality of our classes and increasing communication with the parents. Some of her innovations are Exhibition Day – where kids show off to parents what they’ve been learning at LLI – and helping teachers implement objectives, such as developing leadership skills and encouraging teamwork, into their lesson plans. Thank you Brynn for all you’ve done for our kiddos!

Ian is our International Volunteer Program Manager. From the beginning, he has excelled at finding great volunteer teachers for our programs, making sure that volunteers have an awesome experience once they’re here, and keeping LLI committed to the ethos of ethical volunteering. Thank you Ian for your empathy and enthusiasm for our programs!

Yara is our tireless Teens’ Program Manager hailing from Oaxaca, Mexico. Not only has she built strong, caring relationships with every teen who visits the Center, she has worked all year on developing a fantastic leadership curriculum that guides teens towards implementing their own project in the community. It will be a long time before teens stop asking “Dónde está Yara?” and you will be missed Yara, long after you return to your land of spicy hot sauce.

Photo courtesy of Heidi Wistrand, Finland

Here are some memories and well wishes from volunteers and staff who worked closely with our three special managers:

Ian: Ha pasado ya un año, que rápido pasa el tiempo!! Un año en el cual he aprendido de un gran compañero en el cual hemos compartido cosas divertidas en la ONG. Como olvidar cuando hice mi primer airport pick up, tenia que recogerte a ti. Estaba muy nerviosa, también como olvidar la noche de juego, cada lunes que realizaba con los voluntarios. También como olvidar los chistes que hacías en la casa o de cada cosa que hablamos. Extrañaré cuando conversábamos sobre la cultura peruana o algún acontecimiento que sucedía en Perú. Muchas gracias por ayudarme en mejorar en las reuniones  y también con el ingles.Te deseo lo mejor en lo que viene Ian. Siempre tendrás una amiga en Perú, te recibirá con los brazos abiertos si es que deseas visitar de nuevo Perú. Muchas Gracias Ian!!! – Ximena

Brynn: Ohhhh Brynn ya ha pasado un año,que rápido!!!! Recuerdo cuando estuve en la casa la primera vez y ustedes estaban haciendo una torta y buscando harina pero no había harina sino chuño hahaha. La pasé muy bien. Me gustaba ver cuando Brynn le gustaba cuando compraba mango. Muchas gracias por tenerme paciencia y ayudarme un montón en la casa con los voluntarios. Gracias por correr contigo aunque solo sea una vez. Te deseo todo lo mejor Brynn en todo lo que te prepongas que sigas viajando y puedas conocer toda latinoamerica. Muchas Gracias Brynn!!! – Ximena

Yara: Oh Yara que rápido pasa el tiempo, me siento muy agradecida por conocer a una gran persona que ha demostrado pasión en lo que hace, compartiendo ideas para ayudar a los jóvenes. También te doy las gracias por ayudarme en las cosas de las casa. Extrañare tu gran alegría en la casa con los voluntarios, también ver series con los chicos. Si deseas regresar a Perú recuerda que tienes una amiga que te recibirá con los brazos abiertos. Muchas gracias Yara! – Ximena

Our local team, Yeni and Ximena, will miss you all!

Yara, Brynn and Ian:
You have completed a big task by working in LLI for a year! It was nice to work on your side for a while. All the best for your future endeavors. Love and hugs – Auli

Yara and Auli preparing for the staff dinner
Auli the condor

It was a real pleasure living and working with Ian, Yara and Brynn.  I treasure memories of Ian strumming on his guitar, Yara practising Capoeira on the roof above our bedroom (!) and Brynn all energised from one of her runs.
I wish you all the very best with what comes next in your lives and every happiness in the future. – Lesley

Ian: It was a pleasure to have met you and been your room mate for those fantastic four weeks I spent in Huaycan. I will never forget our conversations about sports and the world in general! And of course the good times preparing the questions and answers for the quiz!I Learnt a lot from you and wish you all the best for the future!! – Guillermo

Brynn: Your permanent smile and your kindness with the kids are one of the memories I kept from my time in LLI! Also the time I spent with you and the rest of volunteers teaching kids in zona S is something I will always remember, especially the happiness they showed when they saw all of you arriving! Take care and good luck in your next steps!! – Guillermo

Yara: Fue un enorme placer haber contribuido con mi granito de arena a tu excelente labor como gerente del proyecto con los jóvenes! El dia de las olimpiadas y los concursos que organizamos son sin duda unos de mis mejores recuerdos de mi estancia en Huaycan! Eres una persona fantástica y como se suele decir… las mejores fragancias van siempre en frasco pequeño!! Cuidate mucho y mis mejores deseos para lo que el futuro te depare!! – Guillermo

LLI Staff Dinner 2018

Queridxs directorxs,
Gracias por todo el apoyo que me brindaron durante la recaudación de fondos para el festival del feriado. Tanto durante las semanas antes que durante el evento en si mismo, sé que no habíamos logrado tantos éxitos sin ustedes. Espero que lo que el futuro les traerá les sostiene tanto que toda la comida que nos compartimos en el Thanksgiving! 
Saludos, Cati 🙂 

Photo courtesy of Catherine Thompson, USA

Ian- from the minute Vanitha and I met you in our volunteer interview, we were so excited to come work with LLI. You were our first impression of the organization, and we knew we could not pass up the opportunity to come work with you all. You did an incredible job in your role at LLI, and you will be greatly missed. I can’t wait to see what you do next. Hopefully we will see you again for another adventure in the States soon! – Ellen

Brynn- we had so much fun working in the kids center with you at the beginning of this year. I am sure the kids are so sad that you are leaving Peru, but they sure were lucky to have you for the year. From pisco vineyards. to real life Mario Kart, it was so fun exploring Peru with you! Hopefully our paths will cross again soon. Best of luck in your next chapter! – Ellen

Yara- I can’t imagine what the teen center will be like without you. Just from the few shifts I worked in the teen center, it was so clear how much the teens enjoyed working with you. I loved talking to the teens and hearing the impact you have made on their lives. I know that you will be successful in whatever adventure is next for you. Please let me know if you are ever in the USA! All the best! – Ellen

Photo courtesy of Jana Rojčeková, Slovakia

Brynn, Ian & Yara, 
Thank you so so much for all your hard work and efforts with LLI! I remember coming to Huaycan and being so excited and a little nervous to be in such a different environment, but you were all so welcoming and fun, that it quickly became home. From playing fishbowl, to going over volunteer tasks, to our weekend excursions, your kindness, humor, and adventurous spirits were easily some of the highlights of my time in Peru. From each of you, I learned so much about community, diligence, creativity, in the space of non-profits, and moreover in regards to friendship & humanity. Thank you for being such wonderful, fun people, and best of luck in your future endeavors!! – Vanitha

In HuacachinaPhoto courtesy of Jana Rojčeková, Slovakia

Brynn, Ian and Yara:

I would love to wish all of you the best of luck in your lives and future plans. 
I hope you will find another beautiful project where you can put your hearts. And do not forget, all of you have an invitation to Slovakia, if you will be somewhere around or if you will have some desire to travel across the Europe you are always welcome in Slovakia! 🙂

It is not easy to pick just one memory. But I loved our trip to Paracas and Huacachina, also playing games in the evenings, and of course I would love to thank everybody for participating in my video, when I was trying to teach them some slovak words, it was so fun. – Jana

Photo courtesy of Jana Rojčeková, Slovakia

To all:
Thank you all for being so kind and welcoming. Being in Huaycán with all of you is an experience that means so much to me. Thanks for showing me around, traveling with me, and being there for me when I needed it. I miss you all! Please remember you always have somewhere to stay in Detroit! I’d love to write you a letter/postcard so please Facebook or what’s app me your new addresses 🙂 

Brynn, thinking back to our moment on the kayaks at Paracas is so special to me. Just talking and laughing about how we had no clue where to go. Thanks for all the surprises and love that last week for my birthday 🙂 I still think about that really awful game of pool we played at the hostel haha. You are a great friend and have made such an impact working with the Children’s center. Though I was working with Huaywasi (which I loved when you’d come visit me and Jill in our office), I’m so glad I could be there for some of the yoga classes with the kids and go up to Zone S a couple times. I’m so excited to hear about when your next journey is 🙂
P.S. Send me updated pictures of how everything ended up looking after the painting and updates! I’m sure it looks amazing. Keep in touch. Sending love! – Sarah

Kayaking in Lunahuaná – Photo courtesy of Mary Lord, UK

Yara, I am so inspired by the way you made the teen center such a warm and welcoming place for the teens. To see you put your heart into all you did gives me motivation to try to do the same in my work. For them to have someone like you making the teen center what it now is, is so special. I’m so grateful we worked out doing a yoga class towards the end of my trip. I know you will bring that love and passion to wherever you end up next. Thinking back I remember a moment sitting with you in the back of a collectivo, late at night coming back from watching the Super Bowl. Hearing a bit about your life in Mexico and how the food you miss most is a good quesadilla. I’m so excited to go there and try one some day!
P.S. I have to admit I definitely snuck a little bit of your Valentina hot sauce at times haha. I will be reaching out to hopefully meet up and hear some recommendations for when I make my way to Mexico! I wish you all the best. 🙂 – Sarah

Ian, you were the first person I met/talked to when arriving to Peru. I’m so glad about this because you took my nervousness away as soon as I arrived. Aside from all the great experiences in Huaycan, thank you for being part of making my birthday so special/helping me get the courage to go white water rafting. Me and you on the right side of the raft were such a team. From thinking back to sitting on the sand during the sunset at Huacachina to walking at night in Huaycán and getting churros, it was all so amazing. 
P.S. I saw The Thing Around Your Neck on my friends bookshelf the other day and thought of you. Such an amazing book. Please keep in touch, wishing you the best! – Sarah

Sarah teaching yoga on the roof

Yara: How invested and engaged you were with each teen. Your face would light up every time we would talk about them at 9pm after you came in late at night and just have random talks. I miss those conversations. Very inspiring and heartwarming. Sitting down to watch these well-planned movies at the Centro de Jóvenes. There was only one problem: NO TEENS! So it was just Yara, me, and 1 or 2 of the teens looking at their phones while anniversary preparations were happening in the other room. Meticulous mango cutting. Helping Dominic with his cards when we went to Avengers: End Game, which I know you and I wanted to see for the longest time. That was so kind. Wonderful.  – Miles

Ian: His distaste for my Red Sox hat. Yep, that’s the first memory. But seriously: adaptability and thoughtfulness. You always approached volunteering with an adventurous spirit and an open mind that made me consistently question my own work and my own motives for volunteering in Perú.    Unparalleled snacking.  Laughing incredulously when I was being ridiculous. This happened often, as others can attest. Related: Putting up with me and my idiosyncrasies. Many other things… for a later podcast, I guess. “Classic”  [insert other Mary catch phrase here as well] – Miles

Photo courtesy of Miles Anderson

Brynn: Zone S-ing. (Parentheses: Ken!)  A consistent and helpful presence, and a truly committed volunteer. You were always so organized and so on top of everything. The opposite of me. (I did put the popcorn in the fridge, I admit it, okay)   Teaching knowing you were sitting outside our kids classrooms waiting to assist when something went awry. And it did. A lot. Me waking up early looking for animal videos on Twitter so that I could share them with you on Instagram.  Laughing every day at lunch (with our regular Cycle 2 crew) and laughing at random Internet videos. And laughing. – Miles

Dear Yara, Ian and Brynn:

First, I want to thank all of you for being with me during my volunteer experience at LLI this last March.  You all made my involvement stimulating and insightful during my seven weeks in Huaycan. I especially looked forward to going to Zone S with Brynn every Tuesday afternoon to see the enthusiasm of the children.  They always seemed so happy, laughing and shouting while working on their art projects. 

It was energizing going to the teen center with Yara every Saturday to see them socializing in a safe environment. I also appreciated Ian’s thoughtful guidance throughout my stay.  He was someone who listened patiently, never judgmental in his approach.  

Overall, I hope to have the opportunity to return to Peru in the near future, which has a rich culture as well as a rich diversity in people. Somehow, I will not be surprised if our paths cross in the future.

Best wishes, Ken

Ken chasing Yamile during field day

Dear Ian, 

I think you are such a hard working, conscientious, kind hearted and open minded person. You think of others before yourself and you have such a generous heart. You have an incredible ability to make anyone feel at ease instantly which is a real skill. Your curiosity and incessant questions about the world and people you meet makes you the perfect First Dates candidate (it’s British a tv show, not sure if you’ve heard of it)…The work you’ve done at LLI over the past year has been amazing, especially with making all those new volunteers feel welcome and comfortable. You have such a gift with people.

I wish you all the best in the future and I hope it isn’t too long before we get to see each other! 

Sending you love and hugs from far away,


A seahorse! – Photo courtesy of Phoebe Murphy, UK

Dear Brynn, 

Oh Brynn, where do I start? You’re so amazing with your kiddos and you can really see how much they love and respect you. Your passion for putting good into the world and having a positive impact on the kids at LLI was really inspiring to watch. 

Your calming energy is something I really appreciated during my time at LLI and I always admired how good you were at handling any situation you were put into. Thank you for being like an older sister to me and looking after me. You’re so kind and warm and never fail to make those around you laugh. Never give up on pursuing what makes you genuinely happy, who knows, it could be in Europpee! 

I wish you all the best in the future; I know you’ll ace whatever you put your mind to. Btw, I’d really appreciate it if you managed to find that job in Europppeee!!! 

All my love and hugs,


Brynn, Mary and Phoebe – Photo courtesy of Phoebe Murphy

Dear Yara,

You’re a superstar. I admire your work ethic and how committed you are to everything you do. When I first went to the Teen Centre and met the Teens, I remember being struck at the connection and bond you had with them. They love you so much, hence why they are constantly asking where you are ahah. I’m so glad I had the opportunity to meet you and be inspired by your love and passion for everyone you meet. You’re such a beautiful human and there is no doubt that you’re going to carry on being an extremely successful and accomplished woman. 

I hope that one days our paths cross again, but in the meantime, I wish you all the best.

My love and hugs,


Yara and Patrick at the anniversary

Mary sent some photos!

Brynn finally gets a haircut! – Photo courtesy of Mary Lord, UK
Same sweater! – Photo courtesy of Mary Lord
A memory from Mary’s theater night at the Teen Center

To Brynn: Too many wonderfully bizarre memories to keep track. Thank you for the laughs, discussions, awkward dating encounters– you will be deeply missed in LLI and at my house (seriously I think the family I live with knows you by name now). I wouldn’t want to argue with national park tour guides with anyone else ❤ Your knowledge, cultural awareness, and (especially) niche pop culture expertise is continuously refreshing, I wonder often how you fit so many random things in your head. I think I was a bad influence on you because I brought out your gringa-ness in the most obvious ways, but please know that I will always have an open yoga mat for you to sleep on when you return! Un Abrazo Fuerte ~Jillian~

Jill and Brynn at the anniversary

To Ian: DUDE, I’m going to miss hanging around in office with you. Our discussions were unparalleled and I think everyone in the office was secretly jealous (or maybe annoyed that the two loudest people in the office were talking nonstop). Thank you for making such an impact on the organization and being the definition of a stand-up guy. My best days in office are when I get an Ian laugh and an Ian “claaaaasic”. Sending nothing but good vibes your way into the future and cannot wait to show up to visit you somewhere in the NW 🙂 ~Jillian~

Ian and his girls, Huaycán and HoraciaPhoto courtesy of Jillian Schneider, USA

To Yara: Yara! I’m sad to see you leave, but wanted to say thank you so much for what you’ve done in the organization over the past year. Your dedication to the teens was so evident and I’m only sad that we didn’t have the chance to work together more. Your work ethic will take you so far in the future–I can’t wait to see the amazing things you’ll achieve! ~Jillian~

Yara and her beloved waffle and muffin makers Photo courtesy of Jill Schneider

For Ian: From the beginning of the interview, to the last day of my volunteer experience – You helped me feel welcome and comfortable. Thanks to you I felt relaxed and could have an even better experience in Huaycan. For all the times I had questions, you could help me. Every single volunteer appreciates your qualities as a person and LLI will “lose” a very helpful, kind and strong organizing talent with your departure. – Dominic

For Brynn: I really enjoyed the laid back weekends we had, just chilling and watching movies and series. Thank you for all the good conversations about sports. I really enjoyed the tour of Barranco and Lima that you gave us. My volunteer experience would not have been the same without you. It was always a good energy when you graced us with your presence in the volunteer house. Keep that bright smile Brynn and may it guide you through life and all upcoming chapters.

For Yara: You have your way with the teens. I’ve learned a lot just by observing you, how you manage groups and the way you talk to them. I hope you will find a job one day where socializing is the main part of it, as you really understand how to communicate with them. I wish you the best of luck as you depart from LLI and embark on a new chapter.

Perfect selfie of Dominic (center) – Photo courtesy of Emma Livingston, USA
Dominic dancing

Thank you all so much for volunteering in Huaycan, and making such a huge impact on the community. Things wouldn’t be the same without you. It’s inspiring how selfless, humble and caring each one of you are. I wish there were more people like you in the world. Good luck on all of your future endeavors!

My favorite memory with Ian: Trivia game night. Brynn: going to Zone S with you!! Yara: hanging out in the teen center with you and all the teens – Jasmine

For Brynn: Thank you Brynn for always being so helpful and kind. You’re so great with the kids, you set a great example. I’m really glad I had the chance to work with you, I had so much fun and learned so so much! I wish you all the best in the future! – Reetta

For Yara:Thank you Yara for all the help with the teens’ classes and being so understanding and kind. I admire how hard working you are and how well you work with the teens. I wish you all the best in the future! – Reetta

For Ian: Thank you Ian for good conversations, sharing thoughts about sports and music, taking me to the piano place (!!!!) and for all the help and everything. I really admire your ability to connect and communicate with people. Being around you is so easy – you really make people feel welcome. Continue being so great! Wish you all the best in the future!

Yara: Working with you was tons of fun! Your impact on the leadership program and the teen center is amazing. The teens love you and it was so nice watching you connect with all of them. I know that wherever you end up next, you’ll do great things! Best of luck in the future! Best, Isabelle 

As a Huaywasi intern, I did not work directly with Ian, Brynn, or Yara, but each one of these amazing individuals made my time with LLI so much more special! I would like to thank these three people for sharing their positivity with not just me, but all of the other wonderful volunteers at LLI. Yara was absolutely amazing with the teens & I will always remember her smile and love for animals. I will always remember the fun times we had at our game nights & watching La Casa de Papel. It was great sharing an office space with Brynn & Yara even if it was only a week. I will miss hearing about Brynn’s adventures and her passion for volunteering. It was great seeing how amazing Brynn is when interacting with the kids and their parents and I am soo glad we both shared a mutual appreciation of Post Malone and traveling. Ian was the first person I spoke with from LLI and I remember how nervous I was in our interview. Through all of our conversations before I arrived in Huaycan, and our crazy stories once I was in Huaycan, I will always have a fond memory of Ian helping others and going above & beyond to reach his goals. He always had a positive attitude about everything & I appreciate all the help he was able to give me even before I arrived to LLI. Most people dread going to work everyday, but these three beautiful people made me dread going home from work and Huaycan 🙂  – Deb

Perfect teamwork in free time by Brynn & IanPhoto courtesy of Heidi Wistrand
Photo courtesy of Heidi Wistrand

Brynn, Yara & Ian: you’re amazing and I miss you. Thank you to all of you for making my visit with the Light and Leadership Initiative unforgettable and amazing this year. You made it so easy to jump along and be part of the high quality education with LLI as welcoming was so warm and orientation was so great. You’re so good at your work and I couldn’t have been happier as this time when I could take part of the time with kids and teens in the Education Center and Teen Center.  You also have a genuine interest in taking others into consideration. That makes me smile and I have warm thoughts when remembering our conversations, games and puzzles and time spent together. Thank you for so many experiences and travels too! Hope to see you again soon. We have a spy or two here in Finland as well 🙂 .  Until then find lots of perfect moments and have exciting game nights where ever you will be! – Heidi

Yara and Ian are too good at all kind of games – Photo courtesy of Heidi Wistrand

Yara Yarita estoy muy contenta de haberte conocido por medio de esta organizacion maravillosa, espero algun dia crucemos nuestros caminos de nuevo, eres una chica super . Gracias por invitarnos al restaurante Mexicano y me gustó “el burrito chingon”  estaba PADRE jajajajaja Deseo los mejores exitos en cada meta que tienes para tu vida, cuidate mucho Yara y quiero que sepas que tienes una amiga en Peru. Somos las que sentimos mas frio que el resto de gerentes o voluntarios y siempre estamos quejandonos de eso jajajajajaja – Yeni

BRYNN Hola my dearest Brynn 🙂 Estoy muy contenta de haberte conocido y trabajar contigo. Hiciste un buen trabajo con cada uno de nuestros participantes, sé que ellos estarán muy agradecidos contigo cada vez que te recuerden, gracias por poner un granito de arena a una causa buena como lo que hace LLI. Te deseo los mejores exitos en la vida, quiero que te cuides mucho my dearest y recuerda que tienes una amiga en Peru. Recuerdo: Compañeras de viaje a la zona S 🙂 Brynn, recuerdas nuestra reunion de padres de esa zona y solo asistio una mama jajajajajaja Siempre a Brynn le gusto que le llamara “My dearest Brynn” – Yeni

IAN Hi Ian 🙂 Estoy alegre por haberte conocido, eres una persona maravillosa y alegre, espero que siempre asi sea tu forma de ser. Gracias por todo el apoyo que brindaste a cada uno del staff, voluntarios y participantes de LLI, eres una pieza mas que se unio a esta causa buena que realiza dia a dia LLI. Te deseo los mejores exitos en la vida, cuidate mucha a donde vayas y espero que no te olvides de tus amigos de Peru 🙂 Uno de los recuerdos que siempre voy a tener de ti es que te gusta mucho en español usar los diminutivos jajajaja Otro recuerdo es cuando queria yo decir grasshopper en ingles, pero decia incorrecto ” gras-shoper” jajajjaja gracias por corregirme teacher Ian. Casi parecido te pasó con el español, una tarde tenias mucha hambre y querias decir ” quiero matar el hambre” en vez de eso dijiste “quiero matar el hombre” y yo me quedé sorprendida preguntandome a quien hombre quiere matar Ian jajajajaja. 
Ian te dejo una trabalengua del burrito barrigon, yo sé que te va a gustar mucho 🙂 – Yeni

Burrito barrigón

El burrito barrigón
ayer se dio un resbalón.
Por andar detrás de un carro,
se cayó dentro del barro.
¡Qué burrito picarón,
el burrito barrigón!

Foto de recuerdo de nuestros gerente – Photo courtesy of Yeni Delgado, Peru

Thank you Yara, Ian and Brynn for a great year. Welcome Caroline, Jamie and Estefanía! I’m looking forward to another strong team committed to effecting positive change in Huaycán. Bienvenidas!

And now, for the best part of the blog: Fun pictures we couldn’t find a place for anywhere else! Enjoy!

Photo courtesy of Mary Lord
Photo courtesy of Yeni Delgado
Frenemies – Photo courtesy of Jill Schneider
Llama rock!
Brynn and Valeska
Yara and Brenda
Ian and Angelo
Last cerro climb with the managers!
Ximena’s so mad you’re leaving! Come back! We miss you already!

Olinda and Yennifer…One Year On!

If you are a regular reader of the LLI blog, you may well remember Olinda and Yennifer, the winners from the Women’s Program 2018 Business Competition. 

Olinda and Yennifer receiving their certificates at the business competition last year

The Business Competition is the biggest event in the Women’s Program calendar. We invite all the women who have been attending our business and finance classes to compete to win a 1000 soles (about $330) investment for their businesses. During the competition, they give a short elevator pitch to a panel of judges and submit their business plans. Last year, Olinda and Yennifer impressed the judges with their creative business ideas, compelling speeches and thorough business plans. So what are Olinda and Yennifer doing now? We caught up with them to find out what they have been up to the past year and how their businesses are going. 


Olinda pitching her ‘Insectivida’ product at the business competition

Olinda’s passion is plants and the environment. Her business, Biodri, offers an organic pesticide product called ‘Insectivida’ made from natural substances such as garlic. She also offers a service where she examines the customer’s plant to help identify the pest and advise them on what product they need.  Olinda invested her 1000 soles in bidones (large containers to make her product), the bottles to sell her product and the labels for her product. 

This year, Olinda has managed to increase her customer base and has regular customers both in Lima and Huaycan. Recently, she can be found in the fair in the main square of Huaycan, promoting and selling her product. Olinda has also done a two-day course at the Agrarian University of Lima to learn more about her field. 

Olinda says a challenge for her has been finding the money to pay for promotional costs such as leaflets and business cards, but she has finally saved enough and will be getting her business cards done next week.

Olinda says the next step for her business is offering other products alongside her insecticide, such as compost and hummus.  Olinda says “My favourite part of running my business is knowing I am helping to take care of the plants, the environment and people”

Olinda selling her insecticide at a recent fair in Huaycan


Yennifer presenting Baby Ecology reusable diaper 

Yennifer noticed a gap in the market when she had her baby boy last year and now her business, Baby Ecology, makes reusable diapers from ecological materials. Yennifer invested her 1000 soles in the materials to make the diapers such as cloth, elastic and fasteners. She also used the money to make flyers and business cards to help promote her business and for the registration fee to participate in fairs.

Yennifer has been very busy this year selling her product at various fairs including the closeby town of Chaclacayo, and the bohemian neighborhood of Barranco. She has another fair coming up in the mountain town of Huancavelica. But the year has not been without its challenges. Yennifer says that a big challenge has been getting her company known in the local area and to convince people to make the switch from regular diapers to reusable, more environmentally-friendly ones. However, Yennifer decided to offer one free diaper to mothers as a trial to see if they were happy with the product. After this, many mothers decided to make the switch and little by little, Yennifer’s company is becoming more well-known in Huaycan. In addition to this, Yennifer’s products are also being sold in shops in Pucalpa and Pichanique, in the jungle part of Peru.

Yennifer says the next stage for her business is to improve her product so that the diapers can be used for longer and to make them even more ecological. She also wants to formalize her business and find more suppliers to stock her products. 

Yennifer says that she loves working for herself and managing her own business because she is in control of her own hours, which allows her to take care of her one year old son. 

Yennifer participating in movement exercises to prepare for the business competition

Would you like to help women entrepreneurs in Huaycán gain valuable business skills? Volunteer with us as LLI’s Women’s Program Assistant! Email for more information!

6 Opportunities To Work With LLI Volunteer Openings Starting From September!

Have you been looking at LLI and wondering a bit more about our positions? Are you looking for ethical volunteering opportunities? We have a wide range of positions available in Huaycán, Peru, and this blog post is going to dive into 6 different positions. Check them out – one of them could be the perfect fit for you

1. Reading Program Teacher

One of our most requested classes from participants: English. We have kids and teens with a range of English abilities who are looking to improve their skills. Our English program caters to both volunteers with teaching experience (we’ll talk about implementing your own ideas and experience!) as well as new or novice teachers (we have existing lesson plans and curriculum!). This is a great opportunity for those who have no Spanish (some Spanish doesn’t hurt either!) and are willing to make at least a six week commitment to volunteering in Huaycán. 

Finnish volunteer, Reetta, using music to educate

Meet Reetta (Finland), one of our current English Teachers!

“My best experience as an English teacher with LLI has been seeing how students have learned new things and increased their self confidence. It’s been really rewarding to notice that, as a teacher, I can help the students to improve not only their English language skills but also their social skills. In addition, I’ve gained a lot of teaching experience which is also very valuable.”

2. Reading Program Teacher

Did you know LLI’s Kids’ Center has a library with over 1000 books? Kids love to read at LLI and our reading program volunteers are in charge of providing a fun, nurturing space for kids to enjoy their favorite books as well as challenging them to think critically about what they are reading. If you have at least intermediate-level Spanish and are excited to challenge kids through reading, this is the position for you. 

Meet Amelia (USA/PERU), our current Reading Teacher!

“I like teaching with the kids. I like that they’re always eager to learn. If you treat them with love and respect, they will treat you the same way. Kids are easy to handle when they can see that you care about them. They always treat me like a teacher. Even though I tell them I’m not a teacher, they say, yes you are! They even gave me a chocolate for teachers’ day. Kids can change the world. When I taught them about plastic waste in the environment, I asked them how can we make a change. And they told me, ‘I am the change.’” That’s why I love working with kids.”

Kids’ Program participant enjoys a book in the LLI library

3. Art Teacher

LLI students often cite art as their favorite class… it’s a time when kids and teens get to be creative, explore something new and socialize with each other. Plus, LLI’s art program operates on the generosity of others: we receive almost all supplies from incoming volunteers, which makes are our art program easy to sustain! If you want to share your passion for art with our kids and teens and have basic Spanish skills, come join us as our next volunteer art teacher!

Kids work on a group art project as part of LLI’s art program

4. Women’s Program Manager

Looking for a unique opportunity to facilitate empowerment for women? Are you passionate about issues facing women? LLI is looking for our next Women’s Program Manager to start on January 10th, 2020 and stay until December 9th 2020. The position entails the oversight, management and development of our women’s entrepreneurship program (Mujeres Empredadoras). This includes overseeing financial education programs, managing the program budget, promoting the program in the community and much more! We are looking for someone who can think creatively to grow our program in line with our Program Goals. Advanced Spanish, leadership experience and a passion for women’s issues and education required.

Women learn to feel more confidence in themselves in public speaking class.

We asked our current Women’s Program Manager, Jess (UK), what is the most fulfilling aspect of her position: “Definitely seeing the women use what they’ve learned in the classes both in their businesses and also in their everyday lives.  I love seeing them come to class with so much enthusiasm and seeing them learn more and more each week, whilst growing in confidence.”

5. Women’s Program Assistant

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is ZVgZQoJa_n7gxSyxFmDXKoJ44HtersIflMS9cVPb0DXrZM6uBpSCpqFmoj_tWXfBqqZxknPRPkkYFeKN3a3EbDmOIfF620JEph135smwyo6rc5E2bzkM-aA25ezGuhgIGhG73Tfn
As Women’s Program Assistant, you could have the opportunity to teach basic computer skills to our Women Entrepreneurs

Would you love to help empower women in Huaycán but can’t commit to a whole year? LLI is looking for a passionate manager assistant for it’s Women’s Program! The Women’s Program Assistant plays an integral role as the right hand of our manager, Jess, in carrying out projects and tasks related to the management and development of the Women’s Program. This includes but is not limited to registration assistance, promoting the program, carrying out community surveys and interviews, and potentially assisting with program evaluation. Jess says, “We are looking for someone who is organized and a team player, with a demonstrated interest in community development. Spanish skills are a must and research skills are a plus!”

6. Teen Leadership Program Facilitator

This is a super cool position in which a volunteer is directly involved with one of our most exciting and important programs – our Teen Leadership Program! Volunteers facilitate leadership classes and assist in developing leadership curriculum and leadership projects! If you are passionate about leadership, have advanced Spanish skills, and are looking to make at least a 6-week volunteer commitment – this is the position for you!

Teens participate in a campaign to clean up a historical landmark of Huaycan

Meet Isabelle (USA), our current Teen Leadership Facilitator
“During my freshman year of high school, I created a tutoring program to help underprivileged kids with learning disabilities. I enjoy helping others and making a difference in the community. So far, the most gratifying experience for me at LLI has been helping the teens strive for excellence and seeing them continue to want to do well while maintaining a positive attitude despite any obstacles some may have.” 

If any of these positions sound like a good fit for you, contact us at

Ethical Volunteering: The Why and the How

At LLI, the principle of ethical volunteering is central to the ethos of our organization. The idea behind it is intentional and thoughtful volunteering that focuses on impact and the sustainability of the project for the local community rather than focusing on the volunteers themselves. Volunteer Communication Manager, Ian, is focused on ensuring that this principle is implemented throughout the organization.

LLI is about telling the stories of the participants, and not those of the volunteers. We want to avoid perpetuating the tendency to glorify the volunteer experience, instead choosing to focus on community-led development. LLI uses a number of measures to ensure proper follow-through on this principle, such as a strict social media policy and recruitment of volunteers based on whether their experience and skills are good fits for the positions that are needed within the organization. Before arriving, new volunteers are given resources to inform themselves about the community of Huaycán, giving them context to what they will experience here. Another key component is adequate training of the volunteers when they arrive. They receive Cultural Awareness, Sensitivity and Appropriation (CASA) training which gives them tools to think about and react to cultural experiences they may encounter. This training encourages them to operate from a position of curiosity rather than judgement.

Ian and Ximena facilitating CASA training to a new volunteer, Blaise

Recently, at Huaycán Cultural, which is an open event that takes place every Saturday offering a space to learn and discuss about cultural topics relevant to the community, Managing Director Emma and Education Program Manager Yeni presented a version of CASA training, adapted to be more relevant to the local community.

Emma at Huaycán Cultural discussing the principles of CASA with members of the community

LLI is committed to developing our local volunteer and local staff base to create a more sustainable and stable volunteer team.  So far, we have a number of paid Peruvian teachers including for science, math and technology classes. Our science teacher, Andrea, has been working with LLI for 5 years now! In addition, we have volunteer teachers, including former teen program participants Miguel and Rildo who teach guitar classes, and Dario, who teaches public speaking for the teens and women.  These teachers are extremely valuable as we can count on them to teach for a much longer term than the international volunteers, which in turn allows us to provide a more permanent educational experience to the participants.

We also believe that it is important to constantly develop and deepen our understanding of what it means to be an ethical volunteer. We do this through monthly Civic Reflection meetings, which are led by one of the managers and is a time for us to reflect upon a piece of art, a photo or a video and how it is related to our volunteer experience in Huaycán. This is an opportunity to discuss why we are here, what we are doing, and inevitable problems that we face. The most recent civic reflection meeting was led by Emma. We discussed the complexity of the conversation surrounding cultural appropriation vs cultural appreciation sparked by a debate about Louis Vuitton selling a product based off market bags.

Kids’ Program Manager Brynn and others discussing an article about Caroline Herrera using indigenous Mexican designs in its latest collection

This sharp focus on ethical volunteering is very important, especially given that volunteering abroad has given rise to a billion dollar industry in which third party vendors send individuals abroad, making money off of this exchange. When asked why Ian believes that our focus on ethical volunteering is so important, he said, “I believe it works to challenge some of the existing tropes of cultural differences and stereotypes and that it works against neocolonial tendencies that may exist in the volunteering industry.”

We asked some current volunteers why they chose to come to LLI and why ethical volunteering is important to them. Dominic, a new member of the LLI family, pointed out how he liked the transparency of money flow on the LLI website and so he felt that his money was being used in a responsible and honest way and he was not being taken advantage of. For him, the transparent money flow was an indicator of an NGO that was grounded on ethical principles. Mary, the current Women’s Program Assistant, also pointed out the fair volunteer fees and the overall transparency of the organization as important factors in deciding to volunteer for LLI.

Would you like to be part of the LLI ethical volunteering team? We are currently looking for a Fair Trade Program Manager (with living stipend) year-long manager for our Kids’ Program (free room and board included) as well as shorter term volunteer teachers who would like to spend September through November with us. Please email Ian at for more information.

Parents’ Day: A New LLI Tradition

This year, LLI hosted our first Parents’ Day to give the parents of the participants an opportunity to see what their children have been doing in classes as well as to take a look at other classes that we offer. As the Education Program Manager, Yeni believes that Parents’ Day is important because it shows the parents how we teach at LLI as well as what the children are learning. For Brynn, the Kids’ Program Manager, Parents’ Day is an important way in which the teaching program has implemented one of this year’s project goals, which is to involve the parents and families of participants more with LLI. It offers a social space for parents to meet other participants’ parents and meet those who work and volunteer for the organization, a very important aspect to what we do at LLI.

Miles, a Reading and English teacher, is showing a number of parents the books that children have been reading

The classrooms of the Kids’ Center were set up with tables and at each table, a few members from each class presented a topic or did an activity to demonstrate what they have been learning  this cycle. For English class, there were games for the parents to participate in, for Chess, students challenged parents to play against them and in Art class, the students presented work they had done tying in with the theme of looking after the environment.

Aymar, Gabriel and Reyna talking about healthy living as a part of their Sports class

When asked what she thought of Parents’ Day, Guadalupe, an older cousin of one of the participants, said, “I liked it a lot as I could see what all the children had been doing in class and I learned a lot about the classes.”

Pedro Tipacti Ojanam, a parent of a participant, also pointed out how it was a sociable occasion which was beneficial for the children as they had an opportunity to share ideas and practice public speaking. In his words, “This event is beneficial for both parents and children and an opportunity for them both to learn more.”

One of the participants who was presenting, Yamile, told us that she enjoyed the day as she liked showing her mom what she had been doing in class and she also learned a lot more about the pollution of our planet through the process of presenting.

Yamile, Valeska and Stephany presenting their art work based on looking after the environment

Overall, Brynn was very pleased with how it went but was eager to reflect on what could be improved so that next cycle, it is even better. She was particularly happy with how organized and prepared the teachers were and the fact that lots of parents came to see their kids and seemed to enjoy learning more about LLI’s classes. We hope to have many more Parents’ Days to continue building upon these relationships with the parents and their children and we only hope that next time, even more parents come to see what we’re up to in our classes!

LLI’s 10th Anniversary Celebration–A Fruitful of Fun!

After more than two months of planning, painting, bunting, stringing, and running all around town for supplies, Light and Leadership’s 10th Anniversary has finally come! Let us set the scene for you:

The decorations were hung on the carpa with care, 
Followed by fun activities that we did prepare.
The weather was perfect; hard to tell it was winter here
The sun beating down upon us, and not a cloud in sight to fear.

Everything came together beautifully after lots of hard work moving tables and chairs and setting up the enormous tent that spanned the majority of the court on which the anniversary celebration took place. Teen, local, and international volunteers, as well as staff members, prepared for the event starting at 6am (!) until welcoming program participants at 2pm on the toasty Sunday afternoon.

Leaders all among us!

Our teens got to practice the leadership skills they’ve learned throughout this session of classes as they led the kids’ program participants in activities based on this year’s theme: Musical Fruits!

Pictured below are just a couple of the several activities offered during the day:

Adivina la fruta (Guess the fruit)
Manzana Colgante (Hanging Apple)

Don’t worry, we did do more than just eat fruit all day! Other activities included a photo booth, trivia, musical chairs, bobbing for strawberries, and many more. Participants had the opportunity to learn about the Brazilian martial art of Capoeira that dates back to the 16th century. It combines elements of music and dance, and quite frankly it looks like a whole lot of fun.

More than just the kiddos

Meanwhile, on the other side of the cancha, our women’s program participants got to partake in bracelet-making, hair braiding, and nail-painting. Viky, pictured below, is one of our longest-running Women’s Program participants and participated last year in the Mujeres Emprendedoras program. New participant, Emma, owns her own bracelet business and taught her craft to many of the other women on Sunday. Another participant, Yanina, brought some of her co-workers along to volunteer to do hair and nails in hopes of refining their skills and pampering the other women present.

Recognizing talent of all ages

Several participants from each of our programs (women, teens and kids) were recognized during our awards ceremony. It was no easy task to select the winners though. We have so many hard-working participants in the children’s program for example, that three of them were selected for the hardest worker award. What a great problem to have! Above we have the lovely Valeska (winner of the 2019 Ray of Sunshine Award) and our fearless Managing Director Emma Livingston, showing off their 10th anniversary t-shirts and Valeska’s award certificate.  

Shoutout to our donors!

We had a chance to recognize our local donors at the event, and we’d like to give another huge thank you to all of our international donors! We COULD NOT have done this without you, and we hope to continue celebrating the accomplishments of our participants and LLI for many years to come. Here’s to the next decade of educating the future leaders of Huaycán!

Donate to LLI’s 10th Anniversary Celebration!

LLI is turning 10 and here in Huaycan it’s time to celebrate! (cue dance music!)

For our historic 10th Anniversary, Light and Leadership is hosting our annual party on June 2nd. And we desperately NEED your help.

Our hard-working participants deserve to go home happy with fantastic memories, smiles on their faces and wearing student-designed and custom-made LLI t-shirts. Our ambitious goal this year is to raise $1200 for our celebration in Huaycan. The theme for this year’s bash, you ask? Well, naturally—Musical Fruits! Be a peach and donate, please! Any amount you can squeeze out of that metaphorical lemon: $5, $10, $20 would be positively groovy!

Keep in mind that these are no ordinary t-shirts. They are specially designed by one of our talented teens and handmade locally by our Huaywasi artisans. Each of the t-shirts will be made in accordance with Huaywasi Peru’s fair trade policy. In other words, they will be sustainably and responsibly made in addition to supporting our talented artisans.

It’s a win-win, really!

So please donate using the link above and look on our social media feeds for more updates and information.

Our participants have worked very hard this cycle. Just ask one of our volunteers (and author of the current post) Miles Anderson. He says, “I have been an English teacher for most of our kids and students. Just finished grading papers actually, with great excitement for my students’ progress! Please let the fruits of their labor be celebrated by donating and continuing to support Light and Leadership.”

No more fruit puns we promise.

Miles explains the colors of the rainbow to art students in Zone S

Please be a part of our non-profit and help make a difference in each of our participants’ lives. The women in business courses, Huaywasi artisans, and students of all ages really deserve it. We know we’re repeating ourselves at this point like the chorus of a good pop song, but it needs to be said, celebrated, and cherished. In the meantime, check out our social media channels and website for more details on what is sure to be a legendary 10th anniversary!

Mujeres Emprendedoras: The importance of self-esteem for women entrepreneurs

Starting a business takes more than a good business plan. It takes a whole lot of self confidence.

It’s been an exciting couple of weeks at the Women’s Program, as we have started our second year of financial education classes in Huaycán. The goal of the program is to empower women to achieve economic independence by starting their own business. We have welcomed twenty-one aspiring female entrepreneurs to the program, who want to learn new skills to either start a business or expand an existing one. Their business ideas include handmade bracelets, Huaycán themed T-shirts, and natural cosmetics.

This year, for the first time, we have incorporated a self-esteem course into our program. This came from the initiative of a local volunteer, Maria Huallpa. She believed the self-esteem classes would be an excellent addition to the finance program. Last year, we did a small self-esteem workshop as part of the preparation for our yearly business competition and received great feedback from the women, who said the workshop helped them feel much more confident during their presentation.  We then realized we should make self-esteem classes a bigger part of our program.

Classes in self esteem, like this one, help women find their voice and feel confident in promoting their business

Self-esteem is extremely important for entrepreneurs. The decision to start a business requires entrepreneurs to believe in themselves and to believe that they are capable of running a successful business. All business interactions, from sales to networking to delivering a pitch, require confidence and self-esteem. Entrepreneurs have to be able to sell themselves as well as their product. They need to be able to trust their skills and abilities to be able to make good decisions, take risks when appropriate and recover from setbacks.

Self-esteem is even more critical for female entrepreneurs, as many women face stigma and discrimination in both their personal and professional lives, which can cause their confidence to take a knock. Studies have highlighted self-esteem as a major barrier that women face when setting up their own businesses. Many struggle to start their business because they do not believe they have the capability to do it, and if they do start one, lack of confidence makes it harder to access the initial capital, making women more likely to discontinue their businesses. This is what we are striving to change with our self-esteem classes.

Participants in LLI’s Mujeres Emprendedoras program will share their business ideas in front of a large group of friends and family at the end of November

Our self-esteem classes are led by local volunteer Maria Huallpa. We will have three sessions on the following themes: the role of women, leaving our comfort zone and learning to love ourselves. Last Sunday, we had our first session, which explored the different roles women can have – a mother, an entrepreneur, a professional, an artist, a sportsperson. We reflected on how women are not confined to just one role and that we can excel at many different things. We also spoke about the importance of setting goals for ourselves in the different areas of our lives, and how achieving these goals helps us to feel better about ourselves and improve our self-esteem.

LLI’s Mujeres Emprendedoras program encourages women to leave their comfort zones and explore different roles and talents they may not have considered before

Maria Huallpa explains “It is so important that the women know they are capable of playing different roles, that these roles have the same value as what they do in their role as mothers. This will enable them to feel stronger, more sure of themselves, and their self esteem will improve as they feel more fulfilled. They will also understand that they can be a source of change and inspiration for new things”

It was particularly lovely to see many of the women sharing, in the supportive environment created by Maria Huallpa, not only their ideas, but also their personal experiences they have had in these different roles.

In our next class we will reflect on what is meant by ‘comfort zone’, what happens when we stay inside it and the benefits of leaving our comfort zone.

Mujeres Emprendedoras helps women build confidence through sharing their thoughts and ideas in a safe setting, supported by other women.

Interested in helping out in the women’s program? We are looking for a Women’s Program Assistant starting in June.

Listening to the Community: LLI’s Community Forum

Community members discuss Huaycán’s future in LLI’s community forum

What is the community forum?

On March 30th, LLI hosted a community forum at our Education Center, inviting members from the Huaycán area to come and share their thoughts and ideas about their community. These community forums are held twice a year and they are an important way we put into practice the idea of ethical volunteering. We want community members as a whole to help shape what we do as an organization, not just those who participate in our programs.

Emma, LLI’s Managing Director, believes that the forum is important as “It’s nice to get a fresh pair of eyes to look at what we do from the Peruvian cultural perspective. And, the forums help us stay current in the issues that matter most to the community of Huaycán.”

One of teens, Sait, who attended the forum said that he enjoyed the experience as “it was interesting, educational and everyone had a good idea on how to improve Huaycán.”

Huaycán, City of Hope

Since the founding of LLI, we have invited the community to shape our focus as an organization. The original community forums that our founder, Lara, held showed her that equitable access to high quality education in Huaycán was what community members felt was most lacking in their city and that’s why, since the beginning, LLI has focused on offering high quality education free of cost to the kids, teens, and women of Huaycán. Now, we want to continue to listen to the community as we move into LLI’s 10th year and work together to determine how LLI can use the structure and expertise that we have in place to help solve Huaycán´s most pressing problems. LLI believes that we can accomplish so much more when we work hand in hand with community leaders towards shared goals.

This most recent community forum was the first of 2019 with the theme being: “Sueño mi Huaycan.” This year, the idea was to have the community members share their thoughts on what they like about their community, what types of things they’d like to improve, and then come up with possible ways to make those improvements.

The planning process:

Brynn, the Kids’ Program Manager, helped plan the event with our Teen Program Manager, Yara, our Volunteer Experience Coordinator, Ximena and Emma.

They began planning about a month in advance by having weekly meetings primarily discussing how to create a community forum that would be useful not only for the community as a whole, but also that would give us here at LLI an opportunity to check in with community members in what they want and need.

Here’s Brynn’s comment on the planning process:

“The purpose ultimately, was to take time to reflect on how we can stay relevant to the community’s needs through the work we do here.”

We personally invited key community leaders and also promoted the event through Facebook and outside of our centers to encourage as many people to come as possible.

The day itself:

As a result of Emma, Ximena, Brynn and Yara’s hard work in promoting the forum, 30 community members attended, both teenagers and adults of all ages. The positive aspects of Huaycán that were highlighted included the main park, the canchas (soccer courts), Huaycán de Pariachi (the archaeological site), the unity of the community and its organization, the schools and the shopping areas.

Yara revealing which aspect of Huaycán was deemed to be the one that needs the most improvement

The community identified 5 key areas in Huaycán they believe need improvement: Security, cleanliness, organization, hospitals, and the environment / green areas.

They discussed improving security by educating the children and implementing more safety measures, such as street cameras. Cleanliness they thought could be improved by instilling the idea of looking after the community among its members, and emphasizing the importance of looking after the local environment.

Discussing strategies for improving the highlighted areas as a big group

The final discussion point of the forum was how LLI could assist the community members in achieving these improvements. They proposed more educational trips and cultural events for the teenagers as well as encouraging empowerment and self-confidence through workshops and films, access to books and materials from other countries, specifically on the topic of feminism.

As Maria, another teen, pointed out, LLI helps the community members improve Huaycán because “they provide a place for meetings to be held which is very valuable to the area’s progress.”

Smaller groups discussing methods for improving Huaycán

How will we follow up?

LLI is an education-based organization, so our response to what we learned in the community forum is to explore ways that we can use our education programs to focus on topics that are important to improving the community. Through our leadership program, we will encourage our teen participants to give workshops to our kid program participants on the topics identified in the community forum as key for the future of Huaycán. We are also discussing the feasibility of longer term projects such as organizing a community clean up or painting murals encouraging people to care for the environment in outdoor spaces around Huaycán as part of art class. Additionally, we will hold a follow-up community forum in October to discuss in more detail how we can use education to help solve Huaycán’s most pressing problems.

We will be keeping our ear to the ground to make sure we stay relevant and engaged with the community here in La Ciudad de la Esperanza (the City of Hope), Huaycán.