Garage Sale in Pacifico de Villa raises money for Nino de Jesus

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.

Javier overlooks the Pacifico de Villa Garage Sale
Small groups of community members inside the community centre.
Pacifico de Villa community assist with the Garage Sale.

A Volunteer Story: Sarah Cowan

My first experience volunteering abroad was in Guatemala in 2007. After my time there, I began searching for another opportunity to lend a hand abroad and challenge myself personally. The day I read about Solidarity In Action (SIA) in the Laurier Brantford weekly newsletter I knew that it was something I needed to be a part of. That very day, I began to fundraise with the hopes of saving enough money to secure myself a place on a future SIA trip.

Having previous experience participating in social justice trips, I had extremely high expectations going to Peru. I knew it was going to be challenging. I knew I was going to be immersed in an environment that I wasn’t used to. But, what I wasn’t aware of, was just how much the Peruvian people were going to teach me about myself and the person I wanted to become. While in Peru, I experienced a roller coaster of emotions. It was difficult to see the poverty, yet I was shocked by the people and their happiness and generosity. But, most of all, I was happy to feel a part of something so meaningful.

The Peruvian people are amazing – I have never met people like them, who are so willing to give the shirt off their backs to help a neighbour. The adults I met are strong and amazing individuals who taught me a lot. One of the most memorable days in Peru was when the people of Pacifico so generously opened their homes to us. These home visits threw us right into the middle of the reality that many of our new friends were living in. As a local woman was taking us on a tour of her house, explaining to us how she and her family go about their daily lives, I was fighting back tears. She explained to us that her community has many solutions to the various problems they face, yet acquiring the resources to achieve those solutions is their greatest barrier. On that day, I felt an overwhelming feeling of happiness invade my body because I knew that I was in the right place. I was there to help this community achieve some of its goals. Although, at the same time, I remember feeling shame and guilt for the life I live in Canada, like how much food and water I waste on a daily basis. One thing I learned while on this trip is that I shouldn’t be ashamed of what I have, but be aware of how I am using it. The more that I am aware of my surroundings the more I change I will be able to create, whether that is in my own life, my community, or Peru.

Maybe it’s because I’m currently studying to become a teacher, but the Peruvian children truly stole my heart. These children are so grateful for everything they have, and are so willing to learn from anyone who will take the time to teach them. The smiles on these children’s faces made my day, each and every day. One of my favourite days on the trip was when we got the chance to take some children from the local community to an amusement park in Lima. I was with a group of five little boys between the ages of three and five, these were some of the most active and curious little boys I have ever met (and I have four nephews!).

There is one moment from that day that I will never forget. We were taking a break sitting on a soccer field, and I figured the boys were becoming anxious to find a ride or go to the park. Then, one of the little boys opened up his backpack, which had only one item inside: a soccer ball. These little boys were just so excited to have a patch of grass to play soccer on, that it was all we did for the rest of the day. I was amazed to see that these boys were told they were going to an amusement park and their only hope was to have grass to play on. They expected nothing more from us other than friendship.

While in Peru I built everlasting relationships with my fellow participants, my trip leaders and with the many Peruvian people I met. These relationships helped me to grow as a person and define what I want my role to be in the world. Solidarity in Action offered me an opportunity to do some good and create some change, and my experience in Peru was the first time in my life that I knew for certain that my life was headed in the right direction. I am so excited to go back as a trip leader this summer and have the opportunity to see how the trip affects others.

Sarah Cowan

Sarah bonds with one of her friends from Pacifico de Villa during a visit to the community.