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. 

How word of mouth inspires action

“I have a friend who knows somebody who went to Peru last summer”. Who hasn’t heard this kind of story. But when they continue with ” She knows a lot of people, including some teens who are just itching to do something useful in the world” you know that you are at the beginning of an extraordinary tale of solidarity and education.

A colleague met a group of students shortly after hearing from two sources about the wonderful work done in Pacifico de Villa by Solidarity in Action. They were looking for a way to make a difference in the world and were hoping to model it on a local altruistic group which was volunteer organized and focussed on the wishes and needs of a community in Haiti.

Not wishing to compete with the Haitian group, they set up their own mandate: firstly to help people at home; secondly to help abroad. After conversation, this is what they did. First they talked to their parents about Solidarity in Action, explaining how it was working in a shantytown around Lima to improve the lives of families. Secondly, they invited their families to learn more about this project and other activities of SIA on line and through a face-to-face meeting. Next they thought about the need for fundraising for them to contribute to a project in Peru. They did not forget Haiti either: In about 6 weeks, they sewed 20 quilts to send to Haitian families living under tarps and in tents to provide comfort to children there.

What else did they decide to do? They found ways to give to Peruvian and local women because they knew that increasing the financial independence of women always helps children and families . Through a local employment initiative they found an ecologically sound product, cloth bags for fruits and vegetables bought at the store or farm gate, which they could sell to earn funds toward Peru. Good, they thought, the “act locally” portion of their mission was taken care of because all of the goods they were selling supported a retraining program for women who had been out of the workforce for a significant period of time and who needed retraining and resume building. Then they found a friendly and responsive local coffee roaster who on hearing that they wanted to work with people in Peru said that they had Peruvian coffee from a women’s cooperative. Everything they sold would thus support women’s initiatives here and abroad.

They needed a place to sell their coffee and their vegetable bags. What better place than the Farmers’ Market where they could show people how the cloth mesh bags were a way to avoid throwing away plastic weekly as they shopped for locally grown crops! And given that the market is a place where people come not just for food but to talk, and feed the soul with friendship, what better place to meet people and tell them about the courage and determination of Peruvian women! The local market manager was thrilled to have a project like this that complemented the regular vendors, offering a strategically placed table at a key point near an entrance and where people walked between the market stalls. How generous. So early, three Saturday mornings, the intrepid teens talked to passers-by who were thrilled with the project, curious about Solidarity in Action, familiar with developing world issues and wanted to share thoughts, and in many cases, willing to try the sniff test, where a nose near the aromatic freshly roasted coffee convinced them of the merits of supporting women in Peru as well as teens in Canada who want to help them.

Just as the idea of doing a trip to Peru was a by-product of other conversations, several conversations at the market resulted in people wanting to know about SIA’s trips and programs. And, we hope, as friends drop by to visit any of those who bought the fair trade, organic Peruvian coffee and are offered a cup, they will learn about the benefits of Solidarity in Action.

Bryan Smith