Months of preparation for LLI’s 5th anniversary was all worth it when we saw the Zone Z kids rushing out of the bus to the registration table to receive their shirts, Yanela and Thalia balancing eggs on spoons between their teeth, or Eduardo’s face when he received the Light and Leadership Award. The 5th anniversary marks a grand milestone for LLI hence this year’s theme “El Gran 5” or the big 5. On Sunday June 8, we celebrated the culmination of five wonderful years to what is now a lively and formidable force for community development in Huaycán.

Kids line up for registration and to pick up t-shirts

The first half of the anniversary was the Activities Program. Neighborhood kids and students alike were invited to enjoy the wide variety of fair activities scattered throughout the field. The stations ranged from Limbo to a Sponge Race and even a Cake Walk. The gray weather was brightened by smiling, face-painted kids zipping from station to station with their activity passports hanging from their necks. After the kids finished all the activities, they were directed to the photo booth where they got to take pictures with loads of goofy props and signs. There was also an LLI banner for students to leave their painted handprint on and an art expo where they could vote for their favorite student artwork. Finally, the candy man who always sells a colorful array of gummies, chocolates, and cookies on the main street of Huaycán was recruited to pass out goodie bags of candies to LLI kids. It was an exciting beginning to the day.

Students wait in line behind James from Zone Z 232 for beanbag toss

The second portion of the anniversary was devoted to contests. We structured this year’s anniversary a bit differently from past years. Instead of one main English contest, we designed five different contests highlighting each of LLI’s programs. Meg, our beloved English Program Manager, built a fantastic giant wheel-of-fortune which the kids had a great time spinning and showing off their English skills. Javier ran a mini chess tournament where kids could either play or watch exciting chess matches. The LLI kids were all grins playing Around-the-World during the math contest, and Anna had her hands full with eager kids making LLI buttons for the Art contest. Finally, for the Biblioteca contest, students were placed in groups and asked to design their own story based on a scene, character and action written on a slip of paper drawn from a bag. Nick had a hard time getting kids to move on to the next contest as they tried to put finishing touches on their stories. We were all blown away by the creativity that came out of this contest. The contests were all fun and educational, and the kids had a great time exhibiting their skills.

Eduardo (blue sweater), a student even volunteer, helps Nayely, Willy, Yanela and Thalea with their biblioteca story

We ended the day with awards for Art, English, Sports, Chess, Biblioteca, and a special Light and Leadership Award. This was the first year we handed out the now annual Light and Leadership Award, which acknowledges the student that most exemplifies LLI’s values. All the volunteers and Lara were overjoyed to present this year’s LLI award to Eduardo of Zone Z 232.

Finally, Lara came up to say a couple words of thanks to all the LLI families and volunteers. While we were all excited to celebrate five years, this benchmark was particularly meaningful to Lara. To acknowledge this Lara was presented with a framed picture of kids who have been with LLI since its first year and a letter of thanks written by Martha, Eduardo’s mother on behalf of the LLI families. We ended LLI’s fifth birthday with five delicious cakes, one for each year of LLI’s existence. J Happy 5th anniversary, LLI! Here’s to many more years of Light and Leadership!

Good thing we are much better at educating children than taking group photos!!



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