Javier Bazan: SIA’s popular “Man on the Ground”

Jav, Papa, Javier (pronounced like Java), Senior, and amigo these are just a few of the affectionate names SIA participants have given to Javier Bazan, SIA’s Regional Coordinator in Peru and Ecuador. Like the developing role of the Trip Leaders, he too is another significant member of the SIA team that has helped expand and develop our programs.

In fact without people like Javier SIA would struggle to assist those in need. In Peru, Javier puts in motion the vision of SIA. He is SIA’s “Man on the Ground” and he makes everything possible. With every project Javier is determined to ensure that SIA’s projects benefit the most number of people. It is an approach that allows for the empowerment of the community and sustainable projects.

Having worked with Javier for the past three years I have seen the exceptional way he interacts with people. Working alongside directors of schools, and hospitals or working in community kitchens, Javier is a man of the people. He is as attentive discussing large scale campaigns as he is when he listens to a woman explain a health issue. The outcome remains the same: he ensures that the person speaking has someone to listen to and his care provides the guarantee that their concerns will be followed up upon.

Javier has not always been in the same role, but his story of how he became involved with SIA is no less amazing then the man himself. In 2009, Javier Bazan, was invited to accompany a group of university students from Canada. It was during this trip that Javier and I met. I was one of the leaders of the university program and with my limited knowledge in Spanish I acted as the liaison between the university students and the local communities. This allowed Javier and me to get to know one another; an immediate bond formed. We both understood the importance of ensuring that the voice of the community became the predominant voice in the projects.

Javier and I worked alongside each other for the next two months, and our friendship strengthened. Javier became increasingly more involved in the SIA program, and when I was asked to lead an SIA program, Javier naturally became my right hand man.

Following a successful summer I suggested to Javier that he become more involved in the program. Stepping into the relative unknown and already with a holding a job as a taxi driver, Javier decided to accept the responsibility. The benefits to SIA were immediate. With Javier in charge in Peru, SIA was able to create such projects as the “SIA – UGEL”, English as a Second Language program, which helped enrich the SIA Peru 2010 program. Following the successful 2010 program, in which Javier had mobilised a volunteer force of Peruvians, he approached SIA with the idea of beginning a chapter of SIA in Peru, and SIA Peru began.

Later that summer Javier and I would travel to Ecuador and with Javier alongside we were able to begin the SIA Ecuador program.

In an email conversation this past week I had a chance to ask Javier about his thoughts as we prepare for next year. I could imagine his response as if he were beside me, pausing as he enjoyed the moment, allowing himself a moment of reflection, before delivering one of his characteristically profound responses:

“I am happy, to see that we are advancing and that with every step Solidarity in Action will go stronger.  We will continue to grow and as we help others we will help people experience the feeling of solidarity.”

This year as we welcome the 2012 participants, a new group of participants will join him in Peru and Ecuador. In addition, Javier will be overseeing SIA’s Pacifico de Villa project as we begin to renovate the daycare, Nino de Jesus.

Well the participants may not settle on one name for such a dynamic person, the one thing they can be sure of is that with Javier they will experience the power of solidarity and help empower the local community.

We are so thankful for all of the work that Javier Bazan and the rest of SIA Peru team do to make these programs a success.

For more information about joining Javier in Peru or Ecuador please visit:

SIA Trips Abroad

Thank you once again for supporting our weekly blog. Stay tuned, as next Wednesday we will feature a few words that Javier shared with me about his thoughts on the work of Solidarity in Action in Peru and Ecuador.

Have a great week!

L. Shuttleworth

Javier poses with his wonderful family
Javier enjoying his time with the SIA Peru university volunteers
Javier during a meeting with teachers from the SIA-UGEL English Project
Javier and Larry pose with community leader Elizabeth, San Juan de Miraflores

The developing role of the SIA Trip Leader

An audible excited chatter can be heard across the small Wilfrid Laurier University lecture room. As a group of young Canadians reminisce about their experience with SIA over the 2011 summer, and discuss the future. These are not the university students who have no idea what to expect when they sign up to travel with SIA. This group is different, they know the joy of participating on an SIA program and they are ready to guide the next group of SIA participants. These are the 2012 SIA Trip Leaders, a group of determined, passionate individuals, who make up the backbone of every SIA international program. They are the first to wake and the last to sleep; and they pride themselves on being able to interact with and provide the support their participants need. They are part of a developing role, the SIA Trip Leader, which has helped us at SIA to provide a better experience for everyone involved.

Over the past few years the role of Trip Leader (formerly Peer Trip Leaders and Trip Leader Assistants) has developed. Trip leaders, a dynamic, intelligent, and passionate group of individuals, have a great feeling of responsibility for the participants’ experience, and their growing role reflects this. While in Canada, Trip Leaders are the voice of SIA at the individual universities. They arrange promotions, attend school events, prepare pre-departure activities and develop program objectives. While in-country, they lead the participants; facilitate evening discussions, arrange volunteer placements, and are the first point of contact for the participants. Trip leaders have embraced the role and are comfortable with their growing responsibility. A 2011 trip leader, Jennifer proudly explains she felt that the Trip Leaders were “the leaders of the trip with SIA Program Coordinators, playing a behind the scene role”.

With the added responsibility come added challenges and greater time needed to prepare for the experience. Trip Leaders arrange regular meetings prior to departure, are required to set aside weekends to participate in SIA training weekends and now found themselves in responsible positions in Peru coordinating such campaigns as dental and health. This added responsibility has only made the role more beneficial.

Christie (2011 Trip Leader) acknowledged that taking “the (rather large) step from participant to leader was challenging.

However, she was delighted as “it was an opportunity of a lifetime that I will never forget.”

We are at SIA are very excited about the developing role as it is allowing SIA to reach out to help more people. In the 2012 year SIA plans to run six programs, three more programs than last year.
With an increase in programs the role of trip leader continues to evolve. This year’s team of Trip Leaders are eager and ready for their experience, but they are cognizant of the growing responsibility they will perform. One 2012 leader indicating that they are aware of “all the responsibilities” (2012 Trip Leader) but they embrace them with “excitement”!

They know that much like Christie and other past leaders the experience is sure to be “an opportunity of a lifetime” that they will “never forget”!

SIA thanks 2011 Trip Leaders for their amazing work!

Congratulations to SIA 2012 Trip Leaders!

L Shuttleworth

SIA Volunteers prepare for Canada’s Largest Ribfest

Touched by their experience in South America, driven by their love of volunteering or are motivated by their desire to rebuild the daycare, Nino de Jesus, 25 volunteers from Solidarity in Action will participate in Canada’s largest Ribfest in an attempt to raise money for the Nino de Jesus daycare.

This year thousands of people will make their way to Spencer Smith Park in Burlington Ontario for the 16th anniversary of Canada’s Largest Ribfest, http://www.canadaslargestribfest.com/ hosted by the Rotary Club of Burlington Lakeshore. It is the perfect summer event for the whole family. Admission is free! Along with great food, there will be musical guests and games for all ages.

The funds raised from the event go towards assisting local charities. SIA volunteers will be active throughout the weekend and throughout the grounds, selling drink tickets, serving drinks, keeping the park tidy by processing recycling.

As a result of the work that SIA will be doing this year, SIA will receive a portion of the tips made from drink sales.

In addition, we will be selling raffle tickets on Sunday September 4 from 11:00am – 5:00pm, within the grounds of Spencer Smith Park. Half of the proceeds from the raffle tickets sold during this time slot, will be put towards the reconstruction of the Nino de Jesus. Nino de Jesus is a daycare located in the poor community of Pacifico de Villa in Lima, Peru.

This year SIA is hoping to raise $15,000 to build a great learning facility for the children of Pacifico de Villa.

Join past participants of the SIA programs and their friends and families!

Look for your SIA volunteers at drink sales, serving drinks and keeping the park tidy – The Recycling Team

Canada’s Largest Ribfest

Friday September 2nd : 11 am to 11 pm
Saturday September 3rd : 11 am to 11 pm
Sunday September 4th : 11 am to 11 pm
Monday September 5th : 11 am to 8 pm

Spencer Smith Park, Burlington Ontario


We look forward to seeing you there!

L. Shuttleworth