BOO. Halloween at the TC!

The scariest holiday, Halloween, has now passed and  we at LLI celebrated it together with teens, kids and volunteers. The annual Halloween event took place in the Teen Center, both for the kids and the teens… everybody was in scary costumes, of course!


We started preparing the Teen Center for the Halloween party days before the event. It took us a long time to decorate the center, but it would have been much harder without the help of our teen participants! Starting at 10 am of the celebration day, the Center was full of teens that were eager to help with making sure everything was perfect for the Halloween party. Together we created a haunted house for the kids and put on halloween decorations the teens had made days earlier.

‘’The teens played a huge part in organizing and executing our Halloween Event. They especially enjoyed planning the Haunted House and scaring the Kids Program participants. I’m really proud of the teens for working so hard to put something together that would really get the kids excited.’’ – Giovanna, Teen Program Manager


Everything was finally ready when kids started to arrive. We had a lot of things prepared to them: the kids could get their face painted by the teens, do an art project with our art teacher, experience the haunted house full of teens ready scare them, or just spend time at the center enjoying snacks and each other’s company.

The Best Costume Winnter!

When all the kids were picked up by their parents, it was the time for the teens to enjoy the party of their own, which they had truly deserved. We started by playing Halloween-themed group game. After the game it was time to publish the winner of the costume contest. The competition was tough since many teens had put a lot of time and effort in their costumes. One of them was voted as the best of them all, and we wrapped up the evening with a scary movie that made sure it truly felt like Halloween.


The day was a success! Feedback given by the kids and teens were all positive, and we’re all looking forward to next Halloween. Thank you to our teens, kids and volunteers for making for making the Halloween party possible!

Blog Post written by Julia Salmi, Teen Program Volunteer


Spotlight: TC Guitar Classes

As a Teen Center participant, you are free to attend any of our classes we offer at the center. At the moment we have English, knitting, art and guitar classes. We want to give teens the possibility to share their interests and talents with other participants by letting them teach a class, and thus, they turn into a volunteer! If teens have an idea, time and can handle responsibility, they’re ready to take on their own project or class.

‘’Estoy muy emocionado por todas las clases que vienen y por todas las personas que conoceré.’’ // I’m excited about all the classes that are still to come and all the people I will meet.”

Following that idea, the guitar classes we have twice a week are happening all thanks to a Teen Center participant Rildo. Rildo first found his passion in guitar when an international LLI volunteer was teaching classes at the center about two years ago. Rildo kept participating in the classes, and now he knows how to play guitar well enough to teach a class of his own.

Rildo started by giving private classes every now and then and later, about three months ago, he started the official classes regularly. At first only few, maybe one or two, people came to Rildo’s classes. After a while more teens started to get interested and come to see if they too could learn how to play guitar, and nowadays there is 5 to 6 people in every hour-long class, held Mondays and Tuesdays.

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It’s easy to see that Rildo enjoys teaching music. Even though he’s one of the teens, during the classes others respect him and see him as a real teacher. When asking his students what they think about RIldo’s guitar classes, the feedback is only positive; the passion Rildo has towards guitar has transmitted to them as well!

What is Rildo’s favorite thing about playing guitar? He says he loves composing music of his own and the feeling connected to others when he is playing in a group. His favorite thing about teaching is that he feels himself useful and important when other teens learn to play guitar thanks to him.

In the future Rildo would like to work with music professionally, which he will achieve without a doubt if he maintains the same passionate attitude he has now. Go Rildo!

Blog Post written by TC Volunteer Julia Salmi

Two Big Moves!

You might have noticed there have been lots of positive changes happening at LLI: we’ve hired more staff (including more locals), become much more efficient internally, and now we’re making two big changes…

1) LLI has moved! This move is a really good one: we moved our education center (formerly known as the Kids’ Center) from the main street, Quince de Julio, back to our old neighborhood in Zone D. We’re no longer battling noise from the main road and have already attracted new women’s program participants now being back in our old stomping grounds. It’s a stones-throw away from our volunteer house and our teen center too, making this an ideal location for staff and volunteers alike. It also has a giant classroom, perfect for yoga classes, parent meetings, homework hours and more.


Want to know the bonus? LLI gained some serious office space. By that we really mean it: LLI now has four offices, one meeting room and two storage rooms, all above our new Education Center. Former interns and volunteers know what this means to us (and might have twinge of jealousy?)–it’s big news for us and was a long time coming. Needless to say, we’re all happy.


2) Our Executive Director, Lara, is moving! It’s true–some of you may have heard a few rumors, but our E.D., after nearly a decade in Peru, is jumping across the gulf of Mexico pond back to her native city of Chicago, IL (USA). Lara will focus on sustainable funding in Chicago–fundraising, getting more grants for LLI and growing LLI’s Fair Trade Project, Huaywasi. She’s definitely looking forward to connecting with current and upcoming donors alike about all the good things LLI is up to, and most importantly, where LLI is headed.

But don’t worry… LLI’s programs will still keep working for the Huaycán community with the guidance of our new on-site Managing Director, Emma.  Emma comes to LLI with a strong background in global management and non-profit project administration experience, in Peru, the U.S. and elsewhere. We’re in good hands.

When is this big move happening? Emma has just recently joined us and Lara will stay in Peru until late Peruvian Summer (about April or May). We look forward to lots of new ideas, growth and positive change for LLI’s future!

University Fairs, Resources, and more: LLI’s Higher Ed. Project!

The teen center is now in its third year and we’ve seen it grow exponentially ever since August 2014. As we’ve gotten to know the teens better, we started to notice a gap in our programs and a need that was present among teens: How do I get a scholarship? Where can I look for info about universities? What is it like to be an engineer?

Fast forward to 2017, we now have a Higher Education project! This project, which is run by a local staff member Marvin, includes assisting teens with questions about higher education, providing information on schools and scholarships, taking trips to events like career fairs in Lima, and, starting last week, workshops on Sundays. Teens and their parents can book an appointment with Marvin and they can discuss together about the teen’s future plans. Marvin himself studied philosophy of education and he’s currently working in a secondary school as an educator and the evenings he spends teaching at a University.  You’ll see him working in the teen center with us now about two or three times a week.

Meet Marvin! You’ll find him either at the Teen Center or the office.

During he’s time working at the center, Marvin has become familiar to all the teens: they recognize him in the hallway and are already asking questions regarding scholarships, choosing a career, etc. Some of the teens have already reserved an appointment to meet Marvin with their parents, something we hope all teens will do during their tenure at our programs.

Our leadership program is even getting involved. As a new leadership module, Marvin is starting to lead workshops where the teens can learn about working life. Throughout the module, Marvin will teach the teens about learning what skills teens already possess, the difference between vocation and profession, and how one should choose a career. The last session of this new module will involve doing something more practical, like creating a personal CV.

Marvin’s thinks that LLI teens are very much willing to build their future and keep learning. As we know, being a teenager can be stressful and teens have a lot of things on their minds… and getting a higher education some day is one of them. The fact that Marvin offers LLI teens an opportunity to achieve their goals is very important. He can’t choose a career for anyone, but he can lead them towards a good education. And because the teens are so full of enthusiasm, they are already halfway there.

Higher Ed project participants at a University Fair last month.

In Huaycán, there are many challenges parents and teens alike face regarding sending their children onto higher education: finances, lack of information and resources and general misinformation all pose problems for parents, but we are so happy to have Marvin and the Higher Education project working toward better futures for LLI teens! Gracias Marvin!

Blog written by Julia Salmi, LLI volunteer

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

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 utilizing the shopify platform
  • Create and execute a marketing strategy for 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, Learn more about us at and

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



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 and social media, promoting our mission and products
  • Send out mailchimp newsletters on a weekly basis
  • Design publication materials for and for fairs
  • Contribute to’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 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!