Teen Leadership: Human Rights

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On Sunday evenings, a group of teens gather each week to discuss, debate, and learn about a range of important topics. This module’s theme has been Human Rights, so last two Sundays the topics were Death Penalty and Women’s rights. Heavy stuff, yes… but the teens were ready.

We approached the Death Penalty in the form of a debate. Teens were divided into two groups, one in favor of and the other against the argument that Death Penalty should be legal in Peru (it’s currently illegal here). Both groups were given 20 minutes to search information from internet so that after that time they would be able to defend their given opinion.

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The result was great! Everyone was engaged and it wasn’t difficult at all to create natural discussion about a topic as difficult as death penalty. It was evident teens had done a great job searching information: they knew how to respond the other group’s arguments and base their responses on facts. Even though we were running out of time, the teens wanted to keep going. All in all, the debate was very successful.

The following Sunday we talked about Women’s rights. We started the event with a game where everyone could tell what they wanted to do when they grow up. They could also think if the career they chose was as suitable for women as it was for men.

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We imagined a world where women were in charge of everything and where the roles between men and women were put upside down. This really clarified and made more realistic the theme we were dealing with. Feminism and women’s rights may come across as difficult and controversial topics, but our teens tackled it well. The conversation turned tense at times, with a mix of opinions present. However, we learned from each other which is the most important!

Blog post written by Julia Salmi, LLI teen program volunteer.

Stay tuned for more updates on our leadership program! Learn more about our teen program at http://www.lightandleadership.org


New Updates, New Video: Women’s Empowerment Program

LLI’s women’s program has had a great year thus far and we’re looking forward to more! Here’s a quick update on what all has been going on, plus check out the new video at the end of the post to see it all in action:

1) We’ve offered three certificate courses (going on four very soon) in the areas of financial education, nutrition and women’s health. Each course has been 4-5 weeks long and requires steady attendance to receive a certificate at the end. It’s been an excellent addition to our educational repertoire!

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2) English classes: comin’ up! These classes are top of the list of what our participants ask for and the course has 
been in the development since the beginning of the year. This course will last 8 weeks in total and will be offered on Sundays and Tuesdays. Check out what our Women’s Program Manager, Caroline, has to say about the new certificate course, which started this week:

“English is always a highly sought-after class and very well attended, so we are excited to announce the new certificate course in English for the Women’s Program! The new English certificate course focuses on basic conversation abilities as well as listening and speaking skills.  We have been busy adapting the curriculum to best fit the needs of the women, and are super excited to start this class twice a week!”

3) We’re only in September and we’ve already seen over 80 women come through our programs. This is exciting to us–we’re confident we’ll reach 100 by the end of the year, expanding educational opportunities to more and more women!

As promised, check out the new video to see it all in action:

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Huaywasi is Hiring!

Join Huaywasi & LLI as our Huaywasi Program Director!

Huaywasi is searching for the next Program Director for our growing fair trade artisan project! Huaywasi (why-wa-si) is an extension of the Light and Leadership Initiative’s (LLI) Women’s Empowerment program. Profits from Huaywasi sales are directly invested in our women’s empowerment program, making it 100% sustainable and accessible to more women each year.


We’re in search of a new program director, someone to take the reigns of the project on-site in Huaycán, Lima, Perú. Our program director works directly with seven female artisans, ensuring our program grows and becomes even more sustainable for our organization and the artisans. Here’s a full list of responsibilities:

  • Work directly with Huaywasi artisans to place monthly orders, give feedback and complete artisan payments.
  • Hold quarterly meetings between artisans, interns, and the program director.
  • Oversee production, design and quality control for each product within the required timeline
  • Manage Huaywasi.com utilizing the shopify platform
  • Create and execute a marketing strategy for Huaywasi.com and for in person sales in Lima.
  • Manage up to three interns within the program, delegating tasks and encouraging a positive work environment.
  • Work at pop-up shops, fairs, etc in Lima, Peru.
  • Export products to the US (training provided)
  • Communicate with the Women’s Empowerment Program manager about artisans and educational needs
  • Report directly the Executive Director on a weekly basis
  • More duties may be assigned as the program grows.

We’re searching for someone who…

  • Has an entrepreneurial spirit
  • Is passionate about fair trade, women’s empowerment and education
  • Has an understanding of the North American consumer, but also an insight into traditional Peruvian culture.
  • Has a strong design background—is confident sketching, constructing and overseeing the design process from start to finish
  • Speaks near fluent or fluent Spanish.
  • Is ready to grow a project: we’re at an exciting point with Huaywasi!
  • Is able to live in Huaycán, Lima, Peru with a stipend to cover housing costs and then some.
  • Is a U.S. or Peruvian citizen (or has the legal right to work in Peru)

The benefits:

  • An opportunity to lead a fair trade project, while being a part of a high impact non-profit.
  • A living stipend to cover costs while working with Huaywasi
  • Free meals on work days (Friday through Tuesday)
  • 3 weeks paid time off a year

This position is a contract position for 18 months, with the possibility of extension and begins on January 15th, 2018. We cannot offer flight stipends at this time.

Please do not apply if you do not meet the Spanish language requirements.

How To Apply

Please send your resume and cover letter to Lara DeVries, Executive Director, lara@lightandleadership.org. Learn more about us at www.huaywasi.com and http://www.lightandleadership.org

Meet LLI’s Newest Staff Member: Anthony!


The Light and Leadership Initiative is excited to introduce LLI’s newest staff member: Anthony.

Anthony joined our team on August 1st as our on-site Volunteer Program Manager, a position that was typically held by an international intern for the past seven years. This year, we were excited to make plans to create a paid position with the main goal of hiring a local, adding more Peruvian staff to our organization. We couldn’t be happier with this big change and look forward to all the good things Anthony will bring to the table!

Who’s Anthony, then? If you’ve donated to LLI over the past years or have volunteered with us, you might already know or recognize him. Anthony is a former LLI student who started learning English with LLI in 2011 when he was just 14.  He joined his sister, Marleni, in receiving private English classes way before LLI was able to open our teen center. His niece, Monica, also participated for 4+ years in our Children’s Program.

Check out the photo from 2011– a pic snapped at our “Top Performers Field Trip”  for students who had the best attendance above anyone else for the year. Can you spot Anthony? 🙂

Anthony (back row, the second person from the left) with many friends of LLI.

Anthony is now studying tourism and hotel management at the Universidad Nacional de Educación “Enrique Guzman y Valle – La Cantuta in Chosica. He’s finishing up his last year and is balancing LLI work with his studies.  His new role within LLI will give him a perfect opportunity to practice English, work with visitors to Peru, and more.

When asked why he wanted to work with Light and Leadership, Anthony responded,

“Me gustó la idea de ser parte del Staff de Luz y Liderazgo por diferentes motivos. Primero, porque esta a 10 minutos de mi casa caminando, tal vez no parezca gran cosa pero en la ciudad de Lima es casi un privilegio vivir a unos minutos del lugar donde trabajas. Segundo, practico mi ingles todo el tiempo, de hecho, siento que este lugar es un mini Estados Unidos. Y por ultimo, porque esta organización me ayudó muchísimo cuando era adolescente ya que me abrió la mente, me dio la oportunidad de conocer a personas que a la edad de 20 ya hablaban 2 o 3 idiomas (quería ser como ellos) y me ayudó mucho con el ingles, entonces trabajar con ellos y es una forma de agradecerles por todo lo que hicieron en mi.”

“I liked the idea of being a part of Light and Leadership’s staff for different reasons. First, because it’s ten minutes walking from my house. It may not seem like a big deal, but in Lima it’s almost considered a privilege to live just a few minutes from where you work.  Second, I practice my English all the time and I feel like this place is a mini U.S.  And lastly, because this organization helped me so much when I was a teen, it opened up my mind.  It gave me an opportunity to meet people who were in their twenties and spoke two or three languages (I wanted to be like them) and it helped me so much with English. So, working for them is like a way to say thanks for everything [LLI] did for me.”

When asked if there was anything else he would like to share, Anthony added:

“Quiero terminar invitándolos a visitar el Peru. y mejor aun, ser partes de Luz y Liderazgo porque de esta manera conocerás a profundidad la verdadera cultura peruana así como muchos voluntarios que regresan una y otra vez. El Peru no solo es Cusco y Machu Picchu, El Peru es mucho mas! Muchas Gracias.”

“I wanted to finish inviting everyone to visit Peru and even better, join Light and Leadership because this way you’ll get to know deeply the real Peruvian culture, like so many volunteers who come back again and again. Peru isn’t just Cusco and Machu Picchu, Peru is so much more! Thanks a lot.”

Welcome Anthony!

Join Huaywasi, LLI’s Fair Trade Project!

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“Huaywasi is an incredible project. It’s so unique to work directly with the artisans, live through the mistakes, share successes, and watch the whole process unfold from beginning to end. The artisans are some of the most amazing women I have ever met and they truly are the backbone of this brand.” – Zach, Huaywasi Business Development Intern

Looking for an internship opportunity in design, digital arts or business development? The Light and Leadership Initiative is searching for intern support for our Fair Trade artisan project, Huaywasi. We’re searching for individuals passionate about fair wages, economic justice and education.

Huaywasi: Handmade in Peru provides fair wages and safe working conditions to seven female artisans, all whom are part of LLI’s women’s empowerment program. Profits from the sales of Huaywasi products go directly to support our women’s empowerment project, making it 100% sustainable.

Ready to join Huaywasi? See your different placements below and apply by sending your resume and a brief cover letter to huaywasi@lightandleadership.org.



Business Development Placement (Opportunities in September 2017 and flexible dates in 2018:

  • Developing social media strategy to increase followers and engagement
  • Sending weekly MailChimp newsletters to subscribers
  • Working with program director and executive director to establish a marketing timeline
  • Managing Etsy Store or other similar outlets.
  • Researching ways to bring more traffic to online website
  • Finding stores, boutiques, etc. in and around Lima that will sell artisan products
  • Finding fairs and markets in Lima to sell products
  • Assisting or leading product photography shoots

Digital Arts Placement (Opportunities in September 2017 and flexible dates in 2018):

  • Oversee, coordinate and lead photograph all product/model shoots
  • Photograph artisans and document their craft processes
  • Photograph artisans in educational workshops through LLI’s women’s empowerment program
  • Provide innovative and engaging images for Huaywasi.com and social media, promoting our mission and products
  • Send out mailchimp newsletters on a weekly basis
  • Design publication materials for Huaywasi.com and for fairs
  • Contribute to Huaywasi.com’s blog

Fashion Design Placement (Flexible dates in 2018):

  • Working directly with seven female artisans to develop new products (design, sketching, locating materials, etc.)
  • Researching new techniques (i.e. screen printing, natural dyeing) to teach artisans
  • Assisting in product pick up (from artisans) and inspection; maintaining quality control standards on incoming products.
  • Researching and implementing trends.
  • Developing size charts and patterns as needed.
  • Assisting or leading product photography shoots

After all this, it’s not a good fit for you? Don’t worry, you can still support 🙂 Check out Huaywasi.com now for a sale going on until August 15th!

LLI Does Hot Yoga!

This past Saturday, 12 of the Light and Leadership Initiative’s women’s program participants had a new experience: Bikram (Hot) Yoga. Thanks to Bikram Yoga Peru (BYP), our twelve top attending program participants got the special treat of a 90 minute active meditation with 26 different poses, all done of course, with an intense dose of heat.


Yoga workshops remain a top favorite among LLI program participants and it was an amazing experience to finally do yoga in an actual yoga studio!  Throughout the 26 poses, there were plenty of laughs, lots of learning, and most importantly, moments of meditation and relaxation. We were joined by four active BYP yogis in the class to help us learn the poses. Afterwards, we all came together and enjoyed some vegan ice cream on the beautiful terrace.


Special thanks to Angie, BYP director and instructor, and Leonor, maker of heavenly-delicious vegan ice cream for making this experience possible!

Photo cred goes to Lucero, our faithful Kids’ Program Coordinator (who just left LLI after seven months–we miss you!!!). Thanks to Caroline, Women’s Program Manager for making the coordination happen!

LLI Hosts Community Forum

The Light and Leadership Initiative (LLI) hosted its second community forum this past Saturday! We were excited to see 28 people join us (in addition to international volunteers) from the community–participants ranged from current teen students, parents of students in our children and teen programs, women’s program participants, current and former local volunteers, among others. It was a great turnout and exciting to see the level of interest on behalf of our teen students.

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So, what is a community forum exactly? The goal is to have a space for an open dialogue between the organization (LLI) and community members–allowing both parties to ask questions, learn more about each other and on LLI’s behalf, become more financially transparent. At this past community forum, we discussed ways LLI could better communicate with schools and the wider community. We also discussed the importance of English vs other subjects, like math or guitar–is there a reason we should be emphasizing one over the other?

Moving forward, LLI will take the feedback we received and utilize it to improve our programs! We’re excited to see what changes we can bring about to better serve Huaycán.


8 Reasons Why This Anniversary Was Space-tacular.

On Sunday, 113 kids and teens showed up to participate in our annual anniversary celebration for Light and Leadership, in addition to numerous parents, women’s program participants, artisans, local & international volunteers and LLI neighbors.

This anniversary celebration had so much going for it–and we like to think it’s a direct reflection of where we are and where we’re headed as an organization:

  1. The anniversary was Space Themed. Yeah. It was awesome. Even more awesome was that the t-shirt design was created by our very own teen participant Bryan. Check it out.FB-8thAnniversary
  2. This anniversary was entirely funded by friends and family of our current international volunteer team. That means, every t-shirt, every sticker, every piece of cake that kids shoved in their mouth out of pure excitement was made possible due to generous people we all surround ourselves with. That’s incredible. Thank you.
  3. We had the most teen volunteer support we’ve ever had.  Our teen center has been going strong since opening it’s doors in 2014, but this past event truly showed our teens are ready to step up and serve their community. Considering all the anniversary prep nights held weeks before the event at the teen center and then showing up (on time!) at the actual event, our teen participants blew us away.DSC_1812
  4. Our coordination team was dynamite. Spanning countries like the U.S., Canada and Peru, our coordination team was not only international, but they were serious about making this event incredible–and super fun. These smart and talented women could have held their coordination meetings in Spanish, English or French, you know? We’ll just let you guess which one…
  5. The photo booth was just too great. Thanks to donations from our Amazon Wishlist, we had a fun set of props (space themed of course) for kids to choose from and have a blast. DSC_1565
  6. Our women’s program is growing and is getting recognized. Not only did this anniversary boast its own “women’s program section” where women could help put together posters for their education programs to be used as signage, but they also could relax and get their nails painted by some pretty great teens. Plus four women this year won special awards within the program (see #8 for more info!)
  7. Olaf came to visit. One of our local volunteers jumped in an Olaf suit near the end of the anniversary for some pretty great photo opts. Check him out below. Oh, you didn’t know snowmen hang out in space sometimes? Well, neither did we 😉DSC_1787 (1)
  8. The Awards, oh the Awards! As always, LLI recognized some of our most stellar and outstanding participants. Each winner received a certificate and a special prize. Check out the full list below:

Outstanding Participants, Children’s Programs:

English: Jhosman, Science: Mailee, Math: Fiorella, Homework Hour: Esmeralda N., Chess: Maycol, Biblioteca: Belinda, Sports/Yoga: Briggithe, Art: Jeremy H., Typing: Alessandra, Coding: Erick

Outstanding Participants, Teen Program:

English: Susy C., Eduardo T., App/Coding: Bryan R., Art: Thaiz Pizango, French: Angela Q., Leadership: Kevin Z., and recognized for teaching their own classes to other teens within the teen center: Miguel M. and Rildo C (Guitar class) and Naydu J. (Dance class)

Outstanding Participants, Women’s Program:

Best Participation: Sara M., Best Attendance: Viky C., Best New Participant: Elizabeth E.

And last but certainly not least–the big awards:

“Participant of the year” awards are given to the most outstanding participant per general program. These participants reflect LLI values such as a strong commitment to learning, dedication to their respective program, willingness to help others, demonstrated leadership skills and more. Each participant receives a special field trip within Lima to a place of their choosing!

“LLI Kid of the Year”: Lindsay S.

“LLI Teen of the Year”: Diego G.

“LLI Woman of the Year”: Cecilia V.

And there you have it! Thanks for supporting LLI’s 8th anniversary. Come visit for #9!

English Teachers Needed!

Join LLI’s team and volunteer abroad in Lima, Peru with an ethical, community-focused volunteer program. Right now, we’re searching for volunteer teachers to join our English program on the following dates:

June 28th, 2017, August 8th, 2017, and January 11th or 12th 2018

You’ll teach in children’s, teens’ and/or women’s programs with the support of our Education programs manager, giving training and guidance on lesson planning and how to best utilize our curriculums. A love for education and a desire to teach is all we ask, though prior classroom experience in whatever capacity is a bonus.

A minimum of 6 weeks is required, but long term commitments of several months are especially valued.

Ready to learn more and apply? Check out www.lightandleadership.org for more information. Internships available for long-term commitments (10 weeks or more), just ask!


Anniversary #8… Comin’ Up!

Shola Shaffer-Young and Allison Malet are two borderless world volunteers currently studying at McGill University in Montreal, Canada, and volunteering with LLI this summer! Check out what they’ve been up to this May. Hint: the Anniversary will be amazing thanks to these two!

We arrived here in Huaycan, Peru on May 3, just a little over 3 weeks ago, and have already grown to feel at home. We have found the enthusiasm and dedication that LLI’s volunteers have shown, along with the determination and positivity reflected among the teens, kid’s center students and women’s program participants to be truly inspirational.

Our primary focus has been centered around creating a sustainable fundraising campaign (here’s our plug…donate here!) and organizing for this year’s 8th Anniversary Event, as well as the ones to follow. Every year, LLI holds this event in order to celebrate the hard work and accomplishments of all of LLI’s participants.

We are ecstatic about this year’s space-themed event, which will take place on Sunday, June 4th, 2017.  Open to all families and community members of Huaycan, we will be hosting a variety of interactive games for the children to play (related to our educational programs in English, Math, and Art) and other games just for pure fun and laughs! We’ve had a blast planning and preparing for the event with fellow volunteers and some of our wonderful teens in our teen program. We are excited to gather as a community and celebrate the many achievements of the participants in our programs with awards, games, cake, and more!

Check out the design, created by Brayan, Teen Center Participant!