Mother’s Day

Over the Mother’s Day weekend, LLI welcomed our new Women’s Program Manager: Patricia from Brazil! She saved the day for her first workshop–leading a lesson on origami when we had a last minute cancelation.


Teens & Guitar

The youngsters at the Teen Center love learning guitar. Some of the more experienced players enjoy helping those less familiar with the instrument! That’s the spirit smile emoticon
‪#‎lightandleadership‬ ‪#‎music‬ ‪#‎teenspirit‬


Teen Entrepreneurs in making

The Teen Center finished up a first ever workshop series of the “how-to” of creating a business plan. Teens met for two weeks on Monday afternoons to learn the basics of a business plan led by experienced business leader (and LLI volunteer) Scott.  At the end, teens created business plans that were presented on health food, athletic clothing and fast food. As a bonus, everyone enjoyed pizza:) Way to go, teens!DSC_0696DSC_0703DSC_0707Lara

Self Reflect Art

LLI had the privilege of welcoming back Gladys, a former LLI volunteer from 2011, to teach an art workshop in the Teen Center during her visit to Peru. Gladys is a high school art teacher in the U.S. and was in Lima visiting with her family in Peru.

The workshop focused on identity: encouraging teens to self-reflect on character traits that best represent them. It also utilized their English skills, working through some known and some now new vocabulary. After a few activities to narrow down words that describe them most, like creating a I am Poem, teens chose a word that best describes them. Check out the words that best describe some of our teens below!


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.

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  • 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!