A Fight for Women


Sometimes we have the privilege of having volunteers in our midst with special talents. Charlotte, who is our very own Math and English teacher and a taekwondo black belt, worked with the women’s program on self defense classes.
The ongoing class series continued with Charlotte as they practiced the most basic movements learned from previous classes. Local volunteers also participated to provide the women (to spar with as well) with something to punch at as well. The sporty session saw lots of laughter, but with November 25th also being the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, the workshop was followed by a 45-minute discussion on how as individuals and as a society we could prevent entering and creating violent situations.

The women, most in their 40s but a few participants in their 30s and 20s as well, very astutely recognized the connection between sexual violence and violence in general, and being able to teach our each other to think more critically about some of the harmful values that permeate our society, such as the glorification of violence, machismo and hyper-sexuality, is very important.
Learn more about how to end Violence against Women, visit UN Women.

Learning about “Los Niños del Mar”


On Sunday Nov 15th, we had the pleasure of having Israel Rivera from Casa Generación come and give us a presentation on homelessness and human trafficking to the teens in the teen center. Casa Generación is an organization dedicated to sheltering, feeding, and educating homeless youth, and providing outreach and support to youth who continue to live on the streets.

Israel showed the teens a movie about Casa Generación’s surfing program youth participants in its safe house near San Bartolo beach in Lima. The thirty-minute video, entitled “Los Niños del Mar“, illustrated the ways Casa Generación was able to offer the young kids therapy through surfing. The showing was followed by a discussion regarding the social factors that cause homelessness and human trafficking, as well as how these factors can impact the teens. Finally, the members wrote about what they would take home from the workshop – these thoughts were posted on our wall and shared with the entire group.

Take a look at the short film here!



A big thanks to Israel and Casa Generación for sharing your Sunday with The Light and Leadership Initiative!

For more information on Casa Generación and the great work they do, click here.

A Panchita Dinner

Chica morada (drink) and Peruvian food
The women enjoying some food and chica morada.

This past Saturday, LLI took a select group of our Women’s Program to a special dinner at Panchita, a restaurant in Lima’s Miraflores district owned by renown Peruvian chef Gaston Acurio. These women were rewarded for having consistently attended our classes throughout the year.

Accompanied by the sous chef, Leni Cruzmatute, the women were given a kitchen tour where they learned about the operational aspects of a kitchen, and got the opportunity to sample a majority of Panchita’s classic Peruvian dishes on the house: dishes like causa, chicha morada, anticuchos, and more were delighted our hearts as well as our stomachs. Sous chef Cruzmatute even shared with us the recipe for pastel de choclo (Peruvian savory cornbread), which was definitely one of the favorites of the night.

Leni showing the pastel de choclo
Ladies enjoying picarones

The evening ended with some picarones (pumpkin & sweet potato donuts) and a photo session with Leni. A big thank you to the Panchita staff for hosting us and giving us a fantastic and unforgettable culinary experience!

Civic Reflection- Ethical international volunteering

In recent years, the volunteer abroad “market” has exploded with a plethora of opportunities to help…however, not all these opportunities have an ethical backbone to guide the organizations, companies or agencies who are sending the volunteers.

At LLI, we do things differently. We are first a nonprofit offering community education programs, and we are second a volunteer program. Thus, LLI is constantly working to listen to the community and shape our programs to fit their needs. Volunteers are definitely needed to keep the wheels going round within these programs.

20150901_215115In order to raise the ethical standards of international volunteering at LLI, in August we began a series of monthly civic reflection discussions with both international and local LLI volunteers. The purpose of these discussions is to provide a place for those serving in Huaycan to work out difficult issues within the field of community service and development. Thus far, we’ve tackled complex questions like:

-What does it mean to serve?

-How important are perceptions when volunteering?

-How do we know who to give to and who not to give to?

Our group has included volunteers from Peru, the United States, Finland, France and Australia, making for a great cross-cultural exchange of ideas and opinions.


To get an idea of the materials we’ve used to guide us, check out The Lunch Date:


Stay tuned for more updates on our discussions!

International Peace Day/Día Internacional de la Paz

Each Saturday evening at the Teen Center, we host special events, such as movie nights, board game tournaments, or Culture Nights hosted by volunteers from different countries. On September 19th, we decided to turn our attention to International Day of Peace, a UN-designated day of peace and ceasefire.

     IMG_6659 We began the night asking ourselves what other days we celebrate throughout the year (Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, Day of the Child, etc.), and why peace should deserve a day and be celebrated as well. After watching a video of Ban Ki-moon, the Secretary General of the United Nations explain the significance of International Peace Day and the importance of education in creating a more peaceful world, we divided into small groups to discuss what we knew about war (in Peru and in different parts of the world) and how conflict affects us in our daily lives. A huge range of topics came up, from conflicts surrounding territory disputes to family violence, from gangs and delinquency to machismo and racism.

IMG_4663IMG_4660At the end of the evening, we drew our own hands and wrote down thoughts or actions that we can take to be more peaceful in our daily lives, or bring peace to our communities. Ideas included no bullying, no racism, being more tolerant, and acting with patience. IMG_6663

On the 21st of September, the actual date of International Peace Day, our Program Director Katie read everyone a book about our human rights, and teens created art that showed the rights most important to them, or that spoke to them the most. IMG_4727

Several teens commented after the evening event that they hadn’t thought about these topics in this way, or that they felt like they wanted to learn more about what is going on in different parts of the world.  Some others had not thought about some of the human rights that were included in the book we read during the art time. Even though International Peace Day only comes once a year, we dedicate every day to bettering our communities through small actions of peace, and learning about and respecting our neighbors, both locally and all over the world.


Student spotlight: Mycol

Almost everyone who has spent time at LLI knows who Maycol is. One of two twins, Maycol has been with LLI since 2012 with his brother Josue. LLI loves these brothers! A great artist, Maycol cites Art as his favorite LLI class :) But look out, he’s planning to be an engineer when he grows up!

Maycol sends a shout out to former LLI volunteers Veronica and Kari!

maycol reading maycol maycolchess

Good bye, Mervi!

Dear Mervi, it’s a tough day at LLI today and we’re all a little sad because you’re leaving. For past eight months you’ve been a great asset to LLI since day one. We are all amazed at how seamlessly you ran the volunteer household with a firm yet friendly attitude. You’re independent, dedicated, patient, affable and immensely organized and have inspired, and touched almost everyone in the house with your presence. We’ve all seen a strong leader, passionate person and an excellent soccer player in you. It is extremely hard to say goodbye.

MervicollagePlease remember that here at LLI you’ve made friends for life and we all have something special to say to you :)

Heidi: Mervi, you’re the heart of the volunteer house of LLI in Huaycán. Before my arrival you helped me with a warm welcome letter, giving good instructions and saying that LLI is greatly looking forward to my arrival. You’re very organized and it was so easy to start the brilliant journey to volunteer work in Huaycán.

CaféPeruCacao4You’ve been taking care of the volunteers with warm heart and with genuine concern. You always had time to answer questions and talk and as well as ask, how things are with warm and unhurried way. You’ve excellent tips on how to travel in combis and collectivos, where to find coffee (I’m Finnish, we love coffee :) ) and Peruvian food and how to go to the Market. I had excellent time on the delightful and gorgeous trips you organized. I’ll never forget the time when you took volunteers to have a delicious cake in Chacacayo.

You’re punctual and strict in a friendly way to keep the volunteer house in order. The life in volunteer house would not run in an order with out you! You know a lot of things and are able to talk international affairs and speak many languages; you’re very smart person with a kind heart and a good sense of humor.

I am so glad that I got to know you, Mervi! Thank you for all care, advices and wonderful conversations in my journey in Huaycán! Hope to see you someday in the near future. Have a fantastic trip! Love, light and rainbows.

Katie: Mervi, you have been such an amazing office buddy and travel buddy! I will miss so much our conversations about politics and culture, our camaraderie over coffee filters, and you being the DJ when we go to Chaclacayo for hamburgers. My favorite memory with you is when we went to Chinatown together and then got stuck in that colectivo with that ridiculous driver; despite the iffy ride home it was such a wonderful day. Please please please don’t forget to post photos of your travels because I can’t wait to see where you go next! And maybe next time we’ll see each other in Finland or Colorado ;)Mervi2-1

Charlotte: You are such an impressive person, I have no doubts that you will continue to do wonderful things for people and just generally seize life! You’ve a great competitive streak which is fun to see at soccer (which you’re a beast at) and when we were gearing up for the combi scavenger hunt.

We will miss you around the house, best wishes for whatever comes next!

Ennisofia: Mervi, I admire your passion towards combis :D, and how you’re such a reliable person to whom it is easy to talk to. Also it is unbelievable, how you have the map of Lima in her head, respect!IMG_0011

Christine: Even though we only overlapped for a few months, Mervi, I’m so sad to see you go! Thank you for helping me get oriented at the Teen Center and in Huaycan, for letting me tag along with you market shopping that one time, and always having good advice when I am frustrated or need help.My favorite memories with you, Mervi, are solving the puzzle in the Teen Center (you’re is so dedicated and patient!), and playing soccer on Sunday nights (it was always a good night if you were on my team!). Our house and LLI family will not be the same without you! Safe travels and have an amazing post-Peru adventure!IMG_6276

Sally: You came to LLI when I was about a month into my stay. You were so quick to figure out all the details of running the house and an asset to everyone from the beginning.

You remember the day we went to the mall to get some baggy pants that the other girls were wearing? Neither of us was comfortable wearing that style and couldn’t figure out how baggy was cute and how baggy was just down right frumpy! We certainly got a big laugh out of our day shopping.

So dear Mervi, you were always upbeat and a calm soul in the house. Thanks for that! If you get to Colorado, please look me up! Have fun on your next adventure!!!

Keeley: The funniest Mervi memory of mine was from a few months ago. It was a volunteer meeting, and somebody announced that a few of our volunteers would be leaving the next week. Everybody at the table said “Awwww” except for Mervi, who waited until the the “Aw” was over, and then said, “Well, some other people will be coming to replace them, like always” in the most matter-of-fact, non-emotional way. Everyone thought it was really funny at the time, the lack of sentimentality, all business.

Isabelle: That time you very literally associated me with a Kangaroo and that other time when you didn’t kick me out of the house for losing my house key, again! Goodbye and good luck Mervi! I hope you’ve loved your Huaycan adventure.

Sofia: Mervi, you’re a key member in presenting Finland in our community in Perú. It is good for the foreigners to understand that people of Finland do not find their silly jokes amusing. (Just kidding… possibly). You take care of the house and the people; you’re totally dependable, wise, and very much to-the-point. One can definitely tell that you have lived in Germany for many years… ;) Remember the MERVIL cake? :) mervi1

Tamara: Mervi, you have touched my life! Your companionship was and will continue to be precious to me. I know you will continue to do wonderful things!! Raise your glasses to Shawn the Polar Bear! My best memories are you and I hanging out on the rooftop in Huaycan talking and talking and talking.20150318_152808

Lara: Mervi, you will be missed here! I have been so happy to have you here in Huaycan for the past 8 months. You’ve become such a part of our family. Thank you for your hard work with the volunteer program, the amazing anniversary celebration and all the RUC work :) haha I know you won’t miss that…!

Teen Teacher: Pedro

Pedro, a long time LLI student, stopped by the Kids’ center yesterday to help out with reading class. He read with students in Spanish AND English. So great.

Teen- Pedro

Peruvian Potluck

Last Sunday we had an excellent time getting to know each other whilst enjoying the  foods prepared by our women’s program participants and volunteers. The guacamole was absolute killer, and the hit of the night crown went to Charlotte’s scrumptious trifle. Especially pleasing to the eye was Silvia’s beautifully presented Peruvian classic causa de atún, which is creamy tuna and vegetables covered in mash potato.

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