Eight things to remember from Solidarity in Action’s year – Year in Review

We have had a great 2014 year!

The year began with the Solidarity in Action community inspiring others through the  Inspire Campaign, and following a few wonderful months in Peru, the year finished off with the 2014 Youth in Action program – Celebration Day. The year featured amazing participants working alongside the local Peruvian partners in youth programs such as Youth in Action, and health promotion initiatives, Hands for Hygiene, while having the opportunity to experience Peru. As we come to the end of the year I find it is helpful to reflect on the year that has been. We have put together a list of eight highlights from a successful 2014 year! We hope that you take the time to reflect on your 2014 year as well. Here are eight highlights from the Solidarity in Action 2014 year:

  1. OUR FOCUS: We offered travelers unique opportunities to work alongside local communities, and local project partners in Peru, while being introduced to Peruvian culture. Participants provided meaningful support to the local community and local organizations in the areas of education and health.
  2. NINETY PARTICIPANTS: This year we welcomed more than 90 travelers (participants) to Peru during the months of February to September. Participants were shown Peru through the eyes of people living in the cities of Lima, and Cuzco, and enjoyed building relationships while working alongside Peruvians in education and health focused placements.
  3. AMAZING PARTICIPANTS: Each participant visited Peru with the goal to support the local projects. During their time with Solidarity in Action,  participants demonstrated care, empathy, flexibility, and creativity. The participants guided health promotion initiatives in a community and school setting, helped children to take responsibility for their own hygiene, and taught English within public and private schools. Participants who supported the Youth in Action (YIA) program, helped to create a stimulating learning environment for children in a community-based after school program. Trained teachers and volunteers, assisted with a locally run childcare centre, and assisted in a school for children with exceptionalities. In addition, MBA students held strategy and business discussions with small-business owners and artisans. Here is a list of 2014 Project Placement positions that the participants performed:
      • Program developer – Youth in Action (Hijos de 28 de Julio)
      • Program assistant – Youth in Action (Hijos de 28 de Julio)
      • Health promotion campaign volunteer – Hands for Hygiene (Colegio Tupac Amaru II & Hijos de 28 de Julio)
      • Health promotion campaign designer – Hands for Hygiene (Colegio Tupac Amaru II)
      • Classroom assistant for children with physical and mental exceptionalities (Laura Alva Saldana)
      • ESL classroom assistant (Inmaculado High School)
      • Daycare staff trainer (Esperanza de los Ninos)
      • Daycare support volunteer (Esperanza de los Ninos)
      • ESL instructor (Colegio Tupac Amaru II, Inmaculado High School & Cristo Rey)
      • Program designer – Meaningful Physical Education (Solidaritas Peru)
      • Program evaluator – Meaningful Physical Education (Solidaritas Peru)
      • Professional development support – Communication strategies for non-verbal students (Laura Alva Saldana)
      • Small-business discussion facilitators – Small-business workshop (Chorrillos)
  4. MAINTAINING PREVIOUS RELATIONSHIPS AND DEVELOPING NEW ONES: This year we worked with seven Peruvian project partners. Project partners include local communities such as Hijos de 28 de Julio, and local schools, such as Cristo Rey. This year we partnered with Solidaritas Peru, a Peruvian NGO.2014 Project Partners:
      • Cristo Rey Public School – Chorrillos, Lima
      • Inmaculado High School – Barranco, Lima
      • Colegio Tupac Amaru II – Chorrillos, Lima
      • Laura Alva Saldana – Barranco, Lima
      • Solidaritas Peru – Chorrillos, Lima
      • Community of Hijos de 28 de Julio – Villa Maria del Triunfo, Lima
      • Esperanza de los Ninos – (Community of Pacifico de Villa) Chorrillos, Lima
  5. PERSONAL INTERACTION RATED #1: The highlight for many participants was the interaction with the local Peruvian people, which allowed participants to learn about a different way of life, and gain a new perspective. Many participants learned more about humanity and about themselves. through the interactions with Peruvians, and by listening to others, many participants realized that they had many things in common.
  6. MACHU PICCHU #1 TOURIST HIGHLIGHT: While participants volunteered alongside local Peruvians, the Solidarity in Action program also introduced participants to Peru’s history and geography through visits to important tourist locations. The tourist highlight for many was the visit to Machu Picchu. Machu Picchu is a UNESCO World Heritage site. Located more than 2,400 metres above sea level, and built in the fifteenth century, it offers the most significant legacy of Inca civilization. Participants enjoyed a one day visit to Machu Picchu, which included a guided tour, and time to participate in a hike, such as the hike to the Sun Gate (Intipunku).Other tourist activities included, horseback riding within the Andes, visiting the Magic Water Circuit (Parque de la Reserva), exploring Historic Downtown Lima (Centro Historico de Lima), and the magnificent churches, such as the Saint Francis Basilica of Lima (Basilica y Covento de San Francisco de Lima) in Lima and the Qurikancha temple in Cuzco.Cultural experiences included:
    • Machu Picchu day trip
    • Historic Downtown Lima
    • Saint Francis Basilica of Lima
    • L’eau Vive Restaurant
    • Barranco district in Lima
    • Incan markets of Cuzco

  7. IMPORTANT ADDITIONS TO THE 2014 PROGRAMS: 2014 Additions to the Solidarity in Action program:We value the contribution that a participant can provide to a local community project partner in Peru. In an attempt to improve the contribution to the local community project partner we implemented two new processes: the primary and secondary placement selection, and co-planning with members of the Solidarity in Action team and the local project partner.The primary and secondary placement selection allowed participants to remain at one placement for the majority of the placement days. The continuity benefited the local project partner and the local participant, as the participant felt comfortable in his or her position, which allowed her to provide a meaningful contribution to the local partner.Co-project planning ensured that the participants, the local project partner and Solidarity in Action staff planned together whenever possible. Co-planning allowed the planning members to share their ideas openly with one another. As a result, each member had a clearer understanding of what to expect during the activity, and what role they must perform. Co-planning helped to overcome the language barrier between Spanish and English speakers.
  8. PLACEMENT HIGHLIGHTS

Solidaritas Peru – Meaningful Physical Education Program (Chorrillos, Lima)

Participants from Western University worked alongside Solidaritas Peru to conduct workshops in three different schools for more than 300 elementary students. Western students completed an evaluation for each game that they led, and provided a program curriculum that Solidaritas Peru could utilize to implement the program into future school programs.

Youth in Action – A community-based after school program (Villa Maria del Triunfo, Lima)

Solidarity in Action participants supported the program from Monday to Friday from 2:00pm to 4:00pm. Participants and Youth in Action staff led outdoor activities, and other values based activities. The themes included self esteem, teamwork, community, Peruvian history, geography, and respect.  The program received fifteen to twenty children each day, and was praised by the Hijos de 28 de Julio community leaders.

Esperanza de los Ninos – A community-based daycare program (Chorrillos, Lima)

Esperanza de los Ninos daycare program was started by Liliana Bernal and Julia Guillen, former staff members of the Solidarity in Action daycare pilot project (August 2013 to December 2013). The program began with two children in March 2014. Solidarity in Action participants assisted Liliana and Julia, and a Canadian kindergarten teacher provided pedagogy support, and offered teaching strategies and activities that Liliana and Julia could utilize with the children. The program has grown to receive more than ten children a day. Needing to make important structural improvements to the daycare, Solidarity in Action helped Liliana and Julia to host a garage sale. The proceeds of the garage sale were used to install a new floor, replace damaged roof tiles, and upgrade the electrical system and wiring.

Hands for Hygiene – Club de Salud(Chorrillos, Lima)

Solidarity in Action partnered with Tupac Amaru II school, a high school located in Chorrillos, to increase the students’ health and hygiene awareness. Solidarity in Action participants led class presentations to demonstrate the importance of hand washing. and developed a student-run health club, Club de Salud. Solidarity in Action participants led activities to reinforce health, hygiene and to teach leadership skills. The students continue to meet on a weekly basis, and in December the Tupac Amaru II students led classroom demonstrations for their peers to instill the importance of dental hygiene.

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PLANS FOR 2015!

The programs for the 2015 year have been posted on our website. Check out the amazing opportunities through the Solidarity in Action 2015 Programs Opportunities 2015, and discover meaningful travel and experience meaningful connections!

We thank you all for the interest and support that you have shown to Solidarity in Action, as we continue to support local projects, and introduce travelers to meaningful travel and the people of Peru.

Wishing you a successful 2015 year!

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Website: www.solidarityinaction.ca

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Twitter: @volunteerSIA

-Larry Shuttleworth

Solidarity in Action provides unique travel opportunities for individuals, while meeting the local needs in education and health in Peru. Follow, like and comment on our blog to find out about how you can experience meaningful travel in Peru, and to see how Peruvians and North Americans are working together to create sustainable development solutions in Peru. 

Peru C

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At the airport making their way to Peru!
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Monday morning orientation!

It is really interesting to see how Peru C has been interacting with the programs, the children, and with each other. Everyone is doing their best to fulfill their roles in each placement. The Hands for Hygiene groups did their first in-class presentation today. This took long planning, skit preparation and lots of communication! Their goal was to introduce the students to the new Champions program Hands for Hygiene is implementing in the school (Tupac amaru II). This champions program will allow the students to be directly involved in the Hands for Hygiene program to help raise awareness about health with their peers. It is so important for children to be involved in such after-school programs. It helps them gain confidence in themselves, step outside of their comfort zone and allow them to try new things but most of all, be in an environment that encourages personal growth.

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Eager teacher 😀

The ESL group taught their first class of the NEW 6-week program today! All the children gathered in the big auditorium where they were awaiting to find out who their Canadian teacher with me. Our volunteers fit right in while making the children feel comfortable during their classes. Today, we focused on getting the children settled into their new ESL classrooms, having introductions and talking a little about ourselves. The children enjoyed the games, and laughing along while the volunteers were saying their names in a “funny accent” during attendance. This week will set the stage for the next 6 weeks of volunteers who will participate in this ESL program and enrich it with their variety of knowledge.

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Chain tag!

The YOUTH IN ACTION (I capitalized that because YIA is so full of energy) group has been at the community in this chilly weather for full days making sure the children receive the best 2 hour after-school experience. They have been practicing their animal poses, and bonding with the volunteering. Today, they were taught about balancing life, making those tough decisions and being responsible. Sometimes we are so caught up in having fun that we forget about the 10370426_10101188434095538_3465606312051951992_nimportant things in life. Imagine kids as young as 6 years old being engaged a lesson like this, it is absolutely amazing what the volunteers have been able to accomplish.

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-Mansi Parasher

You’ll never know, If you never try

What a powerful day !

To give you a SLIGHT idea of how it went, go on our facebook page (SolidarityinactionInc) and click on the link of our shared photo from “Solidaritas” page. The album will simply make you smile 🙂 It shows the interaction between our Western group and the children of a local school is Tupac district.

https://www.facebook.com/solidaritasperu?ref=stream IS the link.

Also, it was amazing to see the interaction between the children of Youth in Action with the volunteers! One thing I can say is that the volunteers definitely have their hands full! There are so many excited children that want to genuinely come out even after a long day at school. I saw Lauren O. in Youth in Action doing it all with a smile, sweating and running around with the children.

Today was another amazing day for the health program as well. We got to meet with the Principle of a school called Tupac Amaru where the Western group has been running the ESL program. He told us that general hygiene is a national problem and we need to address it step by step. His goal is to teach the parents through teaching the children. Ever since he’s been there he’s implemented a safer environment for the children, and a cleaner environment. It was a truly inspirational beginning to a great movement!

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Not going to lie, a lot of participants admitted that the first day of placements was a bit difficult, out of their comfort zone and hard to adjust to. There are many factors for that. But EACH AND EVERY participant decided to go back to the SAME placement to give it one more shot and to stick with it! I thought that was amazing because it is human nature to run away from something that makes you uncomfortable and they challenged themselves.

Here are a few pictures from some exciting moments so far.

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All the participants are trying new things, stepping outside of their comfort zone and challenging themselves as far as possible!

Tonight Larry Shuttleworth sat with them after dinner to talk about the responsibility you have as a fortunate human being to “do more.” With whatever it is.

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Mansi Parasher

NOT FUN!!

By far, the highlight of my entire year of 2013 was reaching the end of my Salkantay Trek after 5 days. Climbing a mountain is NOT FUN. Being exhausted is NOT FUN. Being dirty is NOT FUN.

It is ONLY the feeling of accomplishment, adventure and the experience you get out of it after you have finished it. Most of the journey during it felt like “Oh my gosh, why am i doing this?” So even after all the NOT FUN parts, the overall experience was fantastic and the most memorable physical experience. 941200_10151944854976038_181735734_n

I like to look at life in a similar perspective. Life isn’t all about fun and games. Unfortunately, we have to do things (a lot) that we do not like. Go through struggles, put up with unpleasant personalities, problem solving, overcoming fear, or anything that you consider NOT FUN.

It is only after we do it, we feel so good for overcoming these mental and physical obstacles in life. We feel so good when we finish a task. We feel even better when we get good results out of the hard work.

This is a new year, and some people like to think of it as a new beginning. But why wait for a new year to give you motivation? A new day is an opportunity to do something different, something better than yesterday.

So go out there and do something thats NOT FUN with full efforts.

Never thought I would be giving that advice out.

I recently reflected on my past experience that WERE FUN and still rewarding. Check out my video on our Facebook page http://www.facebook.com/solidarityinactioninc.

Tell me what you think!

-Mansi Parasher

“Life is about work, if you don`t work then there is nothing.”

On Sunday, following the community church service, Javier and I made our way up the Pacifico de Villa hill to meet with the new president, Hernan Caceres of Pacifico de Villa. As we passed the soccer field we noticed that crowds had surrounded the field to watch a soccer game. On Sunday, during the warmer months, the community organizes their campeonato, or soccer league. Men from each of the sectors in Pacifico play against one another in hopes of winning the Pacifico de Villa cup. The crowds must have amounted to upwards of 100 people. We watched briefly. The game was intense and everyone seemed to be enjoying themselves.

Following a brief stop, we made our way towards one of the highest points in Pacifico. On our way we came across the new president, unable to speak with us at the time, Javier and I decided to continue to make our way up the hill, to the home of Jose Ramirez. As we approached the home we could hear the sound of hammers banging and constant chatter. We approached Jose’s home to find Jose and Florentino leaning on a wooden beam, while banging in another. Jose Ramirez)has been assisting us with our groups since 2011. Florentino Pizarro, is the leader of one of the sectors in Pacifico de Villa, and the president of the Local Educativo (“Education Centre”). Florentino was the first person Javier met when he arrived to Pacifico de Villa in 2011. Jose and Florentino are very good friends.

It was a Sunday and Florentino had come to help Jose with building an extension to his home. The wooden beam that they were both leaning on was one of the support beams for the new wall and roof. Although a simple extension, it is impressive all the same, as it will double the square footage of Jose’s home.  Florentino and Jose were engrossed in conversation discussing how they would finish up the final beam, and discussing the next step. They both showed no interest in the excitement taking place at the community soccer fields. Jose and Florentino were focussed on one thing, making improvements to Jose’s home, taking one more step towards a better future for his family. The picture provided a stark contrast to the soccer game taking place at the bottom of the community.

We spent some time speaking with Jose and Florentino. Now well past midday, we knew that we would not be able to stay long. Florentino would have to head home shortly; he would have to be at work by 6pm. Florentino works the night shift as a security guard in Chorrillos. Jose would have to finish up early and get some rest in order to wake up in time for work. Jose works by the airport it is 2.5h hours away from his home by transit. On Mondays, he wakes up at 4:00am to get to work at 7pm. Due to the distance Jose does not return home during the week, leaving his wife to look after his three young children.

We had time to share a delicious Peruvian dish (Cebiche/ Ceviche), freshly ccooked by Jose’s wife. Once we had finished our meal we made our way back down the hill.

As we made our way down the hill, I remembered a phrase that, Jose Carlos, my first taxi driver of this trip, shared with me in passing:

“Life is about work, if you don’t work then there is nothing.”

Jose and Florentino used their Sunday to work, unconcerned by the soccer game taking place lower down in Pacifico, the two were focussed on improving their lives.

On our way down the hill we had a nice surprise as we ran into Isabel (an integral member of the Youth in Action program and one of the members who shared her testimony with our 2012 August group) and Stefanie, a young girl who we have seen grown since 2011 and Thalia (Thalia has charmed a number of her groups with her wonderful Marinera dancing).

Thalia has been taking dance classes and she was the inspiration to the creation of the Thalia Fund. I promised Thalia that I would visit her at the dancing studio on Tuesday evening!

L Shuttleworth

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Me, Jose Ramirez and Florentino sit in the future entrance hall of Jose’s home, enjoying the freshly cooked ceviche dish.