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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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. 

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Making bonds

Peruvian shoes
Lynn, Urooj, Mansi, Eva Modelling their Peruvian shoes
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Youth in Action (Jugraj)

It is so great to see everyone getting along and connecting on a different level. We have laughs during breakfast when we start the day together and laughs during dinner when our day is coming to an end. But its not just with each other that we are creating these bonds. It is with the people we are working with.

Urooj YIA
Urooj in YIA

I  noticed the little things Roxanne (My trip leader partner) does when acknowledging other people and making their day that much better. Around the retreat house we have many people come from different parts of Peru and youth groups come from Lima. Roxanne makes an effort to make these connections with the locals who she sees walking around or even the staff that works there.

I notice the hugs Urooj gives out to our volunteers at the end of the night before bed just to wish them a happy and comfortable sleep. I see the passion she feels towards the teenagers she gets to work with on a daily. She shared with me how happy it made her when all the activities they had planned went so smoothly and the children were starting to be more sociable with each other. These are real connections being made with real people.

Waterpark
Group shot at the park

The bonds we make within a week here stay with us for a very long time especially because you’re connecting on a level that we don’t tend to on a daily basis back home. We have water cooler conversations about the weather with each other and call that interaction. Do we ever talk about our deepest fears, or what inspires us, or who we look up to, or our weaknesses and strengths?  These types of conversations are happening every single day and in the words of our participant “It is making me really really really happy.”

The group took a nice evening out at the “Parke de las aguas” and got to see a water laser which had a mix of peruvian music and amazing entertainment. It was a nice change to go out on a cultural exertion after dinner and enjoy some more quality time together.

 

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-Mansi Parasher

Placements!

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Drive in the morning

Today, the volunteers got the chance to officially emerge with the children during their placements. The day began nice and early at 6:45 AM. It takes anywhere from 30-45 minutes to get to our placements depending on the traffic. We took the ocean side view today on our drive over to the district of Chorrillos. The volunteers seemed to really enjoy the drive, even though it was early, there was energy laughter and excitement.

Day care
Marcela, Lynn, Steph, Julia (left to right)

Lynn and Stephanie have been spending their time at the Day care in Pacifico de Villa. Working with children can be exhausting especially if you’re going it ALL DAY. Sure enough, Lynn and Steph were tired by the end of the day but with a huge smile on their face. When asked about their day, Lynn said she was so happy because she got to read to the children today. They had 3 children at the day care today and had an amazing day just bonding and playing with them. These activities included anything from going to the playground to making music to reading books.

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View from classroom window at Tupac Amaru II

IMG_1643Our ESL and Hands for Hygiene groups spend some time at Tupac Amaru II school for the first time thisweek. There were many observations made today with the group of children the volunteers worked with. Bottom line was that the children here do not have the same opportunities that children back home have. Therefore, they don’t built up their social skills and confidence until a very late age. Children from 14 years old and younger get to experience leadership opportunities through extra curricular and the children at Tupac seem to lack those opportunities. It is so important to give them the platform to shine and share their opinions. And that is exactly what the Hands for Hygiene is doing in their Club de Salud group.

During ESL, Eva (a volunteer) got to meet all the children who are devoting their vacation time to learn English and be involved in these extra curricular activities. They made family trees, jumped rope, made sentences, and had fun learning new vocabulary and games they can take home with them. It was a great introduction day to get their new teacher Eva a little better. We hope the children come tomorrow with even more excitement and interest.

It makes us all feel very privileged to be here and spend this time with individuals who inspire us.

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-Mansi Parasher

Transition then keep moving forward!

It was during the last day at the community when Troy (a peru C volunteer) was speaking in front of the community leaders, “Youth in action” children and the other Canadian volunteers that made a lot of us shed a tear. He spoke about hiIMG_1493s week long experience working in the community with Youth in Action. The comfort the children gave him, the support he saw, the love he felt, all of it was summed up by his well written speech for the farewell ceremony. The children didn’t seem to want to let IMG_1499go of him when we were saying goodbye. The children loved all the Youth in Action volunteers as they created such a beautiful and educational environment for them to be in. They spent days planning their YIA programs, making sure core values were taught to these children about love and respect.10526009_10101189575513128_1488055161521007827_n It is the transition that happens beautifully from one group to another. Peru C got to meet with the Manitoba group as the Manitoba group was easing into being here and starting their projects.IMG_1529 The ESL program had gotten a fresh new start of its 6-week program and right now we officially have around 40 consistent children who attend our after school program and are eager to learn english every day for an hour. The ESL teachers from Peru C had a chance to sit with the new manitoba group ESL teachers to talk to them about the classes, the challenges, the lessons, the environment and just tips/tricks over all.IMG_1539 The children have also been involved with SIA after school in the “Club de Salud” initiative. This club allows them to come togetIMG_1549her as a group and speak about the important issues of hygiene with their peers. This club is meant to built leadership skills in the students so they can move forward and make better decisions for themselves and the community they are from.100_1622 Club de Salud did a presentation yesterday for the “Dia del Logro” (day of success), parents, teachers and, government officials all came to the school where different classrooms were set up for different demonstrations of the children’s excellence. Club de Salud did a demonstration of their own on the importance of hygiene and hand washing. IMG_1584 Different stations were set up for the visitors to see and the best part was that it was all run by the students themselves! Birdie is the project leader for Hands for hygiene, and with the help of the manitoba group volunteers has been able to put this club together for the chiIMG_1582ldren to speak up and gain this confidence. It was amazing to see their excitement when explaining to a teacher about the state of potatoes when exposed to different bacterias. Different potatoes were set up in different bags after being exposed to various platforms and bacteria. It was left to grow for 4 days and seeing the results was shocking!

All the programs have been running with great success, no matter what the challenges are, all our volunteers come together and make beautiful memories. This is visible by the excitement and attachment the children have with our volunteers.

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-Mansi Parasher

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