Ethical Volunteering

Earlier this month, LLI’s Executive Director Lara DeVries, along with LLI treasurer Louella DeVries, made a pit stop in Minneapolis. LLI’s former volunteers Jess, Charlotte, Anna, Emily and Christina hosted a speaking engagement with Lara on Carleton College’s campus focus on Ethical Volunteering in ‪#‎Peru‬. Lara spoke for about an hour on her experience leading an ethical volunteer program and making some recommendations on what students should look for in terms of ethical volunteering standards when applying to volunteer abroad. Carleton students were also invited to purchase products from the Huaywasi artisan line, supporting female artisans from Huaycan.

It was a great two days thanks to our amazing and generous former volunteers and supporters in Minneapolis!
‪#‎ethicalvolunteering‬ ‪#‎volunteer‬ #Peru #artisan #handmade #Huaycan

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Women’s Discussion Club

Every now and then the LLI’s women’s program hosts a discussion club with themes relevant  to life in Huaycan and Peru. Here the women participants are reflecting their thoughts on  Peruvian identity and indigenousness in words.


Hospitality in Minneapolis

Earlier this month, LLI’s Executive Director Lara DeVries, along with LLI treasurer Louella DeVries, made a pit stop in Minneapolis thanks to the support of many former volunteers. On April 14th, the Ibri family hosted LLI at their home for a fundraiser with close friends. Thierry and Jess Ibri, father and daughter and both former and future volunteers, spoke about their experiences contributing to LLI’s impact in Huaycan, allowing for friends to hear personal stories from LLI. Afterwards, Lara did a Q&A session answering questions about LLI’s work. The result, lots of new donors and tremendous support!

LLI Gala 2016


On April 3rd, we held our LLI Gala in Chicago, Illinois. The evening, hosted at the Jackson Junge Gallery, was dedicated to continuing the efforts of Light and Leadership’s work in Peru.

Over one hundred guests enjoyed cocktails and appetizers as we celebrated the work of the Huaycán community and the volunteers. They were able to socialize, share thoughts, and participate in the silent auction by biding on various items ranging from Red Sox tickets to movie night baskets. On top of participating in the auction, attendees were also able to support LLI by purchasing artwork paid forward with 10% of art sales going to LLI!


LLI founder Lara DeVries took a moment to thank all of the donors, attendees, as well as give an update on what LLI has been up to. A big thank you to everyone that came out to support LLI and the great Huaycán community.



Volunteer Spotlight: Emmi Rautkylä


We had the chance to sit down with Children’s Program volunteer Emmi Rautkylä, and learn about her experience working with the organization. Originally from Finland, she’s been living in Peru and volunteering with us since February 2016.


  • Tell us a little about who you are and what brought you to volunteer in Peru?

I’m a 33-year-old lighting designer and rock climber from Finland. I’m lucky to have had the privilege of studying for free from elementary school all the way to my PhD in Lighting Technology. Now I think it’s time to give back, challenge myself, and see what I can do for other people’s education.

I have always known that I wanted to volunteer in Latin America at some point. Most people choose volunteering in their 20s, but for me the right time was now. What drew me to working with LLI was the fact that it seemed like you could really interact with the people and do a lot regardless of the length of your stay. The Light and Leadership Initiative program is well structured and managed, and easy to jump into: it offers activities to kids, teens, and women, which are demographics that need all the support they can get in Peru.

Apart for the organization, the country itself intrigued me because of its culture, its people, and let’s not forget the landscape. There’s no better way to learn about a country than by connecting with its people through education. My Spanish skills were at basic level prior to the program but they have already improved a lot thanks to the interaction with the locals in Huaycán.


  • What are your responsibilities at LLI?

My main responsibilities are with the children’s education program. I’m the lead teacher in chess and math and also build a structured sports curriculum for 7-12 year-olds. In math the goal is to strengthen the skills taught in school and help the kids with their homework. Chess involves teaching basic concepts and moves to the beginners and tactics for the more advanced students. Some of the kids are already very skilled in chess, so the program aims not only build good players, but also to improve logical thinking and the kids’ self-confidence. In all my subjects it is important to practice good sportsmanship between boys and girls with different backgrounds.

Sports_general1 Sports_with_kids

  • What’s an example day like for you at LLI?

My typical day consists of preparing the classes and teaching them. In the evening I might have a shift in the Teen center or look after the kids when their mothers are attending classes. Every other week I grade chess exams and if there’s a parent meeting coming up, each teacher is responsible for giving individual feedback to his/her students. Outside of work hours I like to visit the dairy farm, go jogging, or do some others sports. We also play soccer once a week with the locals.


  • What has been a highlight for you living in Huaycán?

Being with the kids and teaching them is a daily highlight for me. When a kid comes to greet you with a kiss and says “Hola Miss” or “Ciao Miss”, my heart melts! I had to learn how to play chess before coming here, so I can sympathize with them and the pain they might feel when learning new concepts. As a result, I get the most joy out of those moments when a kid accomplishes or learns something new. You can almost see the light bulb on top of their head which is of course delightful for a lighting designer.


  • How do you feel LLI is having an impact in the community?

I truly believe that LLI has a positive impact in the community in Huaycán. Due to the poor quality of education in Peru, kids need support in their studies as well as an atmosphere that encourages them to try new things and build their self-esteem. Some of the kids need special attention that they are not able to get in a public school; LLI’s smaller class sizes facilitate that. In addition to the free education, it provides the kids an international learning environment and adult friends that are there for them and their benefit.

I hope the kids continue to the teen programs and join LLI as local volunteers in the future. Hopefully they learn to appreciate teaching as a profession; maybe LLI will inspire them to even become teachers themselves.

One String at a Time


For the past few months, the Teen Center has offered guitar lessons for any teen that would like to learn, no matter the level. Now home to four beautiful second-hand guitars, the Teen Center students have enjoyed learning the basics, and practicing both simpler and more advanced songs with the help of local volunteers.

One of the local volunteers, Luigi Rafael, sat down with Teen Center coordinator Christine to chare his story and talk about his experience with LLI. He generally spends his Mondays offering guitar lessons at LLI, which he says has been a unique and extraordinary experience seeing the teens gradually learning the art.

LLI volunteer, Luigi Rafael

Tell us about yourself–-Where do you live, what do you do currently?

I’m 27 years old, and I live in Huaycan. For a few months I’ve been able to travel a bit throughout my native country, and have the opportunity to spend a few months in the United States visiting family. I loved the experience. Now I am starting to study Clinical Lab and Pathological Anatomy at the university.

How did you find out about LLI and decide to give guitar classes?

My sister Ursula actually told me about her experience volunteering with LLI, and how much she enjoyed being there.
Also, when I was in the United States I saw a video on Facebook that talked about an organization that looked for people to support youth culturally, socially, and/or artistically in Huaycan; since I live there I thought it’d be great to be a part of their work. I didn’t realize that it was the same organization that my sister had volunteered with.

How are guitar classes going? What are the teens learning?

The guitar classes are going very well! Sometimes it’s a bit complicated because new students come each Monday, and we have to review material from previous classes and grow while also helping the newcomers learn the basics.
Right now we’re learning a bit of basic theory, as well as chords. I’m concentrating heavily on practice, and I’m interested in them being able to master the instrument in a quick and fun way.And since there’s always more to learn, so I thought adding a little bit of signing would be nice considering how much the teens are interested in playing the guitar and singing along.


Learn more about our Teen Center and the work being accomplished by our team!

Why I Love My Job

Being part of the LLI team involves a lot of researching, interacting, planning, and coordinating from our volunteers. Moreover, finding innovative ways to introduce tools and resources to help our community members grow can be stressful and time-consuming. But that doesn’t stop them from being the best they can be.

When we asked Sofia Perhomaa, our Women’s Program Manager, to tell us about her responsibilities at LLI, she chose a unique way of describing what she does. Her short comic “I Love My Job” shows why she loves her job, and what it’s really about.


A Leader in All of Us


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

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

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



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

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

New Science and Technology Program



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

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

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


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

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

A Lesson on Belonging

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

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

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

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

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