In August of 2011, a group of volunteers from Solidarity in Action travelled to the community of Pacifico de Villa in Lima, Peru. Many in the group had gathered donations from their local communities in Canada. Some received such support that they had to arrange for extra luggage check-in at the airport.
Having received such a large number of donations, SIA Peru, with the support of the community of Pacifico de Villa, set about to determine how the donations should be distributed. Pacifico de Villa is a community which has within it 9 smaller communities. In an attempt to help the greatest number of members of the community, SIA and the leaders from Pacifico de Villa decided to organize a garage sale, which would allow all the members of each of the communities access to the donations. The proceeds from the sale were to be given to the Pacifico de Villa daycare, Nino de Jesus.
The garage sale was organized by SIA Peru, the social assistants and the educators from Nino de Jesus. It was held in the community centre in Pacifico de Villa on November 20, 2011. Fatima Marin, an SIA volunteer, shared this account of her experience facilitating the garage sale, along with the impact it had on the community.
To prepare for the sale we sorted, categorized and set prices for all the donations we had received. We set a cost that was affordable for the members of the community with prices ranging from 1 sol (65cents) to 3 soles. Although we want to assist the community, it is important that we set a cost, even if the cost is symbolic. The money raised will help support the community and their daycare.
It took Javier, Mayra and me about five hours to do the sorting and the categorizing, in preparation for the sale. The following day we brought the donations to the community Pacifico de Villa.
When we arrived we were met by a line of 150 people, all members of the community, who were anxiously waiting for the garage sale to begin. To prevent congestion within the community centre, groups of five entered at a time. Each group was given 10 minutes to make their purchases.
There was great support shown by the community. Community leaders, teachers, social assistants, the leader of the “Vaso de Leche” – Glass of Milk (a feeding program) and a number of neighbours from the houses nearby all lended a hand. All of the volunteers sported the Solidarity in Action t-shirts while helping with the event.
The men, women and children who attended the garage sale returned home feeling very satisfied. They had been able to buy clothing, toothbrushes, toothpaste and other items that they really needed. Although the attendees were pleased to be able to purchase these much needed products, they were most concerned about purchasing gifts for their family, and they made sure that their families got what they needed.
We raised a grand total of 450 soles (CAN$170). The money was donated to the daycare. Graduation from daycare is a very important aspect in Peru. The money that we raised paid for the cost of the graduation of the students from daycare to primary school.
The event was a great success and a help to the community. The community members were pleased to have the opportunity of purchasing high quality goods at a reasonable price, without having to travel half an hour to the market. The impact was clear, the community felt a greater degree of respect as they were able to pay for their own goods, rather than rely on donations. Although the actual prices charged may be symbolic, the sale has helped to demonstrate to the members of the community that this life is not about receiving free gifts and that there is always a way to achieve what you set out to do. Although this is a small step, we believe that as a result of such sales the community will be able to improve their own well being.
Solidarity in Action in Peru thanks all of the Canadian volunteers and their local communities for gathering, organizing and bringing the donations to the community of Pacifico de Villa. It is our intention to ensure that all community members have access to the items while helping to reinforce the value of money.
As always we think fondly of the Solidarity in Action family and the directors in Canada.
January 23, 2012 – Lima, Peru
Fatima Marin is an integral member of the SIA team in Peru and a regular contributor to SIA’s Blog, Developing Together.