TC Halloween Fiesta

This Halloween, the Teen Center put on it’s first ever Halloween party and haunted house. A group of teens planned for months in advance in order to pull off this awesome event. Setup began the day before Saturday evening with the help of our teens. Finally, Sunday the Teen Center was prepared for fun and filled with students from the Kids’ Center who came over to get the party started. They got to eat candy, play games, get their Halloween makeup done, and most importantly- get their turn to go through the haunted house. At 5:30pm we said goodbye to our 7-12 year-old friends and got the teen party going. By this time it was starting to get dark, so the haunted house was looking even spookier. The teens played limbo, wrapped each other up as mummies, and raced to eat donuts off of a string.

HUGE shout out to all of the people who donated by buying items off our amazon wish list, we could not have done it without you! From the eerily realistic bugs to the glow in the dark face paint, the donations really allowed us to make our first Halloween a hit. As the teen center coordinator, I would love to see this event turn into a tradition, getting spookier every year.

Este Halloween, el Centro de Jóvenes tuvo su primer fiesta Halloween con su casa de terror. Un grupo de jóvenes planearon este evento increíble por meses para lograrlo. El Sábado comenzamos decorando el Centro de Jóvenes. Domingo por la tarde el Centro de Jóvenes estaba preparado para diversión y lleno con estudiantes del Centro de Niños que vinieron para comenzar la fiesta. Los niños comieron dulces, jugaron, pintaron sus caras con maquillaje Halloween, y tuvieron su chance de entrar a la casa de terror. A las 5:30pm despedimos a nuestros amigos del centro de niños y comenzamos la fiesta para los jóvenes. A esta hora ya comenzó a bajar el sol y la oscuridad hizo que la casa de terror sea todavía más miedosa. Los jóvenes jugaron limbo, se convirtieron en momias, y compitieron para comer donas en un hilo.

Muchísimas gracias a todas las personas que donaron artículos de nuestra lista de Amazon, no hubiéramos podido hacer el evento sin su apoyo. Sus donaciones de maquillaje, hasta bichos súper realistas nos dejaron realizar este evento por primera vez y se lo agradecemos mucho. Como la gerente del centro de jóvenes, me encantaría que este evento se convierta en una tradición, mejorando cada año.

Rosa’s Monthly Blog-October

LLI’s Reading Program

Did you know LLI’s Reading Program offers classes EVERYDAY! We offer a total of 12 classes a week, which include over 65 students. (That’s more than half of LLI participants!)


In our “Biblioteca/Lectura” classes students are able to read a variety of books available in LLI’s library. Afterwards, they test their skills by answering questions to better comprehend what they have just read. Teacher and student correct comprehension sheets to earn a sticker to complete their passport level. Currently, we have students who are all the way on level 12 passports which include longer books, harder questions to respond, and mini projects to complete.

LLI is so lucky to have over over 1,100 books in our library. For a majority of our students this is their only opportunity to choose a book and bring it home.

An exciting piece of information: LLI has been able to include more lighting, floor pads, and bean bags, where our kids can read in comfort.

Interested in helping out our Reading Program? Become a volunteer:here or donate by visiting our amazon wish list.

LLI Thanks You!

On Saturday, Lara and Louella (LLI treasurer and mother extraordinaire) came in with some special gifts for our Kids’ Center. New collections of Legos had the kid’s extremely ecstatic. LLI students faces were filled with smiles during our board games class.

Here are just a few pictures of our students having a blast with their new Legos!

LLI is incredibly fortunate for all of the amazing people that have been able to donate to our Kids’ and Teen Program! Keep a look out for some pictures of our first ever Halloween haunted house.


Haven’t been able to donate yet? It’s not to late, donate here.

Clothing by Guillermina – a Huaywasi Artisan

Huaywasi is LLI’s artisan store and a branch of the Women’s Empowerment Program. One of Huaywasi’s artisans, Guillermina, makes beautiful clothing, incorporating traditional Andean fabrics into original clothing designs. Among these items are hand-made hoodies, dresses, skirts, t-shirts, and more. Watch this video, get to know Guillermina a bit better, and find out how she uses the income she receives from Huaywasi:

Check out one of Guillermina’s newest products, the Wawa Hoodie –

Shop ethically for more of Guillermina’s hand-made clothing now, like these super soft zip-up sweatshirts, with hoods lined in Andean fabric –


Buy Andean Zip-Up Hoodie (Pre-Order)

LLI’s 1st Open House!

Last Saturday The Light and Leadership Initiative held their first open house in Huaycán!

The Teen Center and Women’s Program partnered up to create our event, “Abierto al Público” to recruit new teens and women participants for LLI. The night was filled with presentations on each program, raffles, food, and tons of interest from the community.We had a great night with over 50 people coming into to hear more about what we do as an organization. Not only were the international volunteers there to run the event, but both local and teen volunteers were there to assist with presentations, raffles, recruitment, and childcare. Overall, we had a great turnout and an amazing time seeing so many new faces!

Check out some awesome pictures from the night:






A huge THANK YOU goes out to our amazing local and teen volunteers for all their assistance on such a busy day and their efforts to help LLI grow.

Interested in volunteering? Apply here.

Huaywasi Formula Breakdown : Fair Wages


Have you heard of Huaywasi?

Huaywasi is LLI’s fair-trade artisan store that started as a branch off of the Women’s Empowerment Program. Huaywasi staff members work with women artisans in Huaycán, who attend educational workshops with the Women’s Program. The artisans produce handmade, one-of-a-kind products that are sold in fairs around Chicago, IL and online at!

How does Huaywasi ensure that its artisans are making a fair living? 

The artisans are paid a fair hourly wage for each product that they create based on what a living wage is here in Peru. Huaywasi staff members work carefully with each artisan to calculate a fair price on each new product, based on the hours of labor and cost of materials spent making each item. Each product is handmade and designed either by the artisan or in collaboration with the Huaywasi team.

Several artisans work full time with Huaywasi, and a couple still work part time–we hope to get all artisans up to full time work in the future.

How is this different from other fashion brands, like H&M?

Brands like H&M are fast fashion brands. The goal of brands such as these is to get new trends on the market as quickly and cheaply as possible. The result is often (but we can’t speak for these brands) poorly paid workers and unethical working conditions.  Huaywasi is what is called a slow fashion brand. Our goal is not to pump out mass amounts of the same product while neglecting the well-being of our employees. Instead, we focus on high quality, uniqueness, fair wages and comfortable working conditions.

What do Huaywasi artisans do with the money they earn from their products? 

All Huaywasi artisans are mothers, and some of them are grandmothers as well. The earnings they generate from their product sales create financial stability and allow them to provide for their families while working comfortably from home. Huaywasi artisans commonly report using their funds to provide schooling for their children, pay bills and buy food from the market.

Here’s Huaywasi’s seamstress, Guillermina, explaining what she does with the income she receives from Huaywasi while making skirts, dresses and other apparel:

Rosa’s Monthly Blog-September

The English Program

Did you know that the English Program is LLI’s most popular program? In 2016, LLI started four new English classes: two at the Kid’s Center and two at the Teen Center. We now have 91 students who participate in English classes every week. This year we’ve also had English volunteers from four different countries: United States, United Kingdom, Poland, and Finland, who have helped us to complete LLI’s mission of educating youth in the Huaycán community. LLI is currently working on aligning its curriculum to the Peruvian ELL standards to better assist the needs of the students and their learning habits.

In September, an exciting English music hour has started for all participants at the Teen Center. The teens are enjoying this time to come together to listen and learn with one another. Students participated in various listening activities with vocabulary, including word sorts and stand-up/sit-down for repeated words. At the end, they were able to get the deeper meaning of the song based on what we learned from the vocabulary within the lyrical context.


This month we are really excited to have some amazing teachers with us.

Abbey attended Michigan State University and studied Human Biology/Nutritional Sciences, minoring in Peace and Justice Studies with a focus primarily on Social Justice issues in the realm of Public Health.

Jessica attended Northern Illinois University and studied Nonprofit and NGO Studies with a minor in Spanish.

I asked both Abbey and Jessica, “What made you come out to LLI and what do you like best about it?”

“I heard about LLI from my friends Shelby and Karilynn, who are former volunteers. I was in search of an opportunity to go abroad and LLI was the perfect fit to combine my love for Spanish, kids, yoga, education and even fair trade! What I have loved best is being able to build relationships with the the people of Huaycan. My volunteer experience abroad previously was always only a week at a time and I never was able to immerse myself into the culture. I’ve loved being able to stay for an extended period of time (although 6 weeks went by way too fast!) and really immerse myself in the culture here.” -Abbey

“I decided to come to LLI for the opportunity to learn more Spanish while also working with kids which is something I love to do. I also like to teach, but it’s something I haven’t had the opportunity to do often, so I thought I would enjoy the experience of being a teacher here at LLI. What I like most so far is getting to know the kids both in the classroom and outside of class and forming relationships with them. I also love when we play a fun games in class and all of the students just light up and have a blast.” -Jessica


Are you interested in becoming a part of the team here at LLI? Apply here.

New Huaywasi Product – The Wawa Hoodie!


Huaywasi just launched its newest and most adorable product yet – the Wawa Hoodie! “Wawa” means “baby” in Quechua – the native language of the Andes. Hand-made by Guillermina, this hoodie is a perfect gift for baby showers, nieces or nephews, or your own kiddos! Check out the Wawa hoodie in action –

Order yours now! –



Wawa Hoodie


Rosa’s Monthly Update-August


This month was very exciting, as we welcomed back two well-known past volunteers Heidi and John!

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Heidi hails from Helsinki,Finland. She has dedicated her time in the emergency room as a registered nurse for 25 years and now works for a social insurance association. During her time with LLI she has been assisting us with our Reading, Math, and English program as well as numerous activities in our Teen Center.


John comes to us from San Francisco, California. He works for Zillow Group  where he is a Senior Mobile Software Engineer, coding iPhones, iPads, and Androids. This is John’s fourth time volunteering with LLI. He has been teaching in our coding and app inventor classes at the Kid’s and Teen Center.

The LLI team wanted to thank Heidi and John on their continuous commitment and we also appreciate your hard work and dedication to our kids!

Here are some kind words from our current volunteers to Heidi and John:

“John has been an amazing addition to LLI’s family. It’s great to see him here, now in his FOURTH volunteer opportunity, and making Coding a permanent part of LLI’s programming. And plus, he loves to share cakes and pastries, so who can deny that? Thanks John for being you.” -Lara
“Heidi is one of the most genuine and loving women I have ever met in my life. We are lucky to have her yet asecond time in Huaycán and I know her calming presence and her dedication is infectious to the rest of us. We love you Heidi!” -Lara
John and Miguel jamming out at the Teen Center! -Patricia
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Heidi has a great way of connecting with every person she meets; from the students at the kids’ center to Dina and Queta in the house. Heidi, I loved dancing with you, come back soon! -Pam
“I’m so glad to have Heidi and John with us this month. They are amazing people with such a great passion for the organization. It’s awesome to be around two inspiring people!” -Rosa
“What strikes me most about John is how generous he is. This is his fourth time volunteering with LLI in Huaycan. Not only does he give his time, but he is always doing kind things for others, like surprising the kids with ice cream and showing up to the volunteer house with a bag of pastries. He gives so much to this organization and is a joy to be around.” -Janae
“I love Heidi’s adventurous spirit. She is not afraid to try new things, like eating anticuchos and teaching Finnish to the kids during childcare, and I have loved all of our game nights and outings with her during my time here. She is so patient and helpful with all the kids and I know they will all miss her so much when she leaves! She truly brings a smile to everyone’s face.” -Janae
John: “I think that returning year after year from his home in the Bay Area of California just shows how committed John is at supporting an organization. He is one of the only individuals I know that balances financial support, with his technological donations, and the other kind of support, that requires teaching that student how to use technology. He’s one cool dude.” – Olivia
Heidi: “She’s exactly the kind of energy you need: for kids, for parents, and for volunteers, as well. A person like Heidi re-energizes you with her kindness and generosity. She reminds me why we do the work that we do. I hope if she returns a third year, we can have her start a Finnish club, because language learning is so important and Heidi is exactly the kind of language learner you want in the classroom: she is someone who consistently tries.” -Olivia

Meet Our Teen Center Coordinator

Returning for more! Meet Jess our Teen Center Coordinator, who is a returning LLI volunteer that will be with us for one whole year. Thanks for your continued support Jess!


Get to know all about Jess with this Q & A:

1. Tell me about yourself. What school you attended, major, what you were doing before this, hobbies, etc.

I went to Carleton College and majored in International Relations. During my time there I worked as a Gender and Sexuality Center Associate and was involved in the Latin American Student Organization and the Collective for Women’s Issues. I studied in five languages throughout my time at Carleton as language has always been a passion of mine, and I’m always looking for people to practice my French or Arabic with! Growing up, I moved around all the time and ended up spending three years in Santiago, Chile and five years in D.F. (Mexico City), Mexico. During college I studied abroad in Amman, Jordan and Lima, Peru, where I first heard about LLI. These experiences have given me essential language skills and fueled my drive to do my work at LLI.

2. How does it feel being back on the LLI team? Any changes?

It feels great! After being here last year for a little over two months I was so aware that it wasn’t long enough. Since I’ve been back most of the people I work with have been new, but it’s been nice that during my time two people I worked with last year also came back to volunteer, which I think speaks to the commitmpasted image 0ent people feel to this organization. In terms of changes, there’s a lot of new art up on the walls at the teen center, which I love! Last time I was here, we moved everything from the Zone D classroom to the Kid’s Center and everything was still getting set up, so it’s nice to see the Kid’s Center in full swing.

3. Why Teen Center Coordinator?

While I was here last time, I was doing a little bit of everything. I taught math for the kid’s program, taught basic computer skills for the women’s program, translated for a researcher conducting nutrition research through LLI, and worked at the Teen Center. I loved everything I did, but the Teen Center really stood out to me as a unique place for young people who care about their community. As the Teen Center Coordinator is a fairly new position, I feel like there’s still a lot of development to be done, and I’m excited to continue developing the leadership program and organizing a program to help the teens think about their plans after they graduate from the Teen Center.

4. What do you like most about Huaycan?

One of my favorite things about Huaycan is definitely Sunday night futbol/soccer. Every week a group of LLI volunteers, local volunteers, and friends get together to play for an hour or two and it’s such a nice way to get to know people, have fun, and get a little exercise. I also love the street food, and getting to try everything from anticuchos (cow hearts) to bombitas (fried dough sweets).

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