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!

For more updates Follow Developing Together on WordPress.com

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/solidarityinactioninc.

Website: www.solidarityinaction.ca

Follow on Instagram: Solidarityinaction

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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Tupac Amaru II

You know they say its hard to change a thought process of someone if they’ve thought in that way for their entire life. It is easy to give up hope if you constantly think like that. The least you can do is TRY. The experience at Tupac Amaru schoolIMG_0603 today gave me hope for a better tomorrow. It gave me hope to see more smiles in the future. Days like this make me believe that our work is… well….contributing to the change.

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Students trying Glogerm

What I mean when I talk about changing peoples way of thinking has to do with todays health initiative at the school. Health promoter volunteers James and Chizo IMG_0604went into Tupac amaru with our lovely Maria from the SIA peru team to do demonstration in some classes. The children were attentive from the moment we walked in because of the buckets and equipment we brought along. We had student volunteers demonstrate to the other kids how Glo germ works. They got to see first hand, the germs on their hands and the affect soap IMG_0608has on getting rid of them. It was exciting to see their reactions of amazement when the flashlight proved that their germs decreased after washing hands with soap
and water. Does this mean we have convinced each person in that room to use soap next time they wash their hands? No, not at all. It means that we did our part and showed them the facts. It is up to them to decide how they want to interpret it. All we do is try, we let them know… someone cares.

I suppose you can take that approach with many other things in life. You want to help a friend who’s life style you do not agree with. You can do your job as a good friend, and a good samaritan and let them know your side. Let them know what you think and let them know what might be better. After that, it is up to them to decide how they want to interpret your help.

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Photo scavenger hunt told them to “ENJOY NATURE”
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This was cleaned up later

We took a similar toll in our ESL class today when we introduced “World environment day” to the students. We spoke about the importance of loving nature, cleaning up your surroundings and overall awareness of a healthy lifestyle. When I told the students about Walking instead of driving when you can avoid it, they all agreed. It made me smile to know that they agree and understand these things at such a young age. They did a photo scavenger IMG_0624hunt where they had a list of instructions in English to figure out for themselves. They had to depict certain scenarios and really think about how they were going to do it. When came time to show a “bad/dirty environment” the children didn’t have to go far to see garbage laying on the ground.

We ended the day with a garbage clean up activity that the children took on with full enthusiasm. IMG_0620They ran around looking for places to clean up and even the elders around noticed what they were doing and it gave them a reason to smile.

All in all, it was a day full of smiles. Full efforts were shown from the children and our team to be a part of this change.

-Mansi Parasher

Leaving a mark

The group went out to dinner in Barranco last night, only the most beautiful place around. We had a view of the ocean from where we were sitting. Everyone was on such a “high” as we had amazing placements like usual. Youth in Action crew and Health group joined forces to implement a healthy class, we talked about the importance of washing your hands, sang songs and did activities. Everyone looks like they already belong here, the way they interact with the children and the locals is so “natural”.

Shavonne, Sydney, Nicole and Jasmine got to see some of the peruvian culture by exploring the market today while they looked for items to implement a hand washing station in Youth in Action community centre. This way Children can see the importance of cleanliness while they enjoy their time in a fun environment.

I believe it is important to execute things with as much passion, commitment, and love. I see this in all the volunteers I have interacted with thus far!! Today is Friday and also their last day of placements. Tomorrow is a big event the health program is running, alongside Youth in Action to invite ALL the parents of the community with their children to come learn about the hand washing station, and for the children to present their mothers day crafts. We will have raffles, prizes and lots of bonding going on. It will be a nice farewell from this lovely place and the group will then prepare for their trip to Cusco after leaving their mark in the community, the public/private schools, the special needs kids school, the day care and  this retreat house.

Hasta luego

 – Mansi Parasher

 

Paulina’s Journey

 

 

 

Paulina is a sweet individual that I met in Peru during the summer in the community. She is from Poland and was working alongside SIA and Youth in action! This is her input from her experience in Pacifico.

How did you come to know about SIA and our work in Pacifico de villa?

I got to know obout SIA in Pacifico from Jacek Klisowki. I was working in the house for street children named Ayllu Situwa which he set up and has been running for more than 8 years. I was doing my volunteer service ( I was send by Papaya Foundation from Poland, and I was implementing the project funded by Ministry of Forein Affairs in Poland – program named Polish help) there and he told me about Larry and the activities for children which you organize. I really wanted to help and was interested in the work which you do.

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 What was your first impression of Pacifico and Youth in Action program/the kids?

I was amazed by the energy and happiness of the children. It was surprising that in this some kind of desert place there were so many children and that they are so willing to do all things which volunteers proposed them. That they get so deep into all activities, always with big smiles on their faces, try to do it perfectly…

What were your expectations or goal that you wanted to achieve while working with Daniel?

First of all I wanted to share with children and Daniel my experience in working with creativity. In Poland I work in developing creativity center named Kangur – cangaroo:) I wanted to share what I know and be with those children, help them with homeworks, spend time just be. I also wanted to get to know something from Daniel, he is very wise, has great contact with children. He is amaizing. I am very happy that I could work with him.

What were some of the challenges you faced while working with Daniel and youth in action?

The biggest challange was when they told us that we can not use local communal anymore:( We had to organize it outside and that it still was very cold…but all the rest was a great pleasure.

What kind of activities were you able to do with the kids?

We did a lot of art activities. Also connected with art and cultures. We were talking about Egyptian culture, a little bit about the India, we got to know some arabic letters, listening to polish legends. We did mandalas from spices, builded animals, were making a lot of ideas how we could use something or into what we could transform simple things. Painting, drawing, constructing. We also used the parachute to do some moving activities, played football. It was a good time. I hope it will serve them or even made them feel happy…

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Would you come back?

I hope so…The true is that I would love to. The problem is the distance. Peru is really far from Poland but close to my heart so I hope it will help. I would also love to spend more time, next time in guarderia. I love little kids and they need a lot of care. We will see.

What is one key message that you are taking back to Poland with you?

The key message which I brought from pacifico and casa Ayllu Situwa, after those three months which I spent working with kids is that you should never judge children but love and give a lot of attention and care. They are so innocent. And the other is that you should smile a lot because then you make others smile.

Jose

Today, I will tell you a story.

This story is about a young boy, whose name is Jose Javier Herrera Grefa. Why is this boy so special?

Well, it all started earlier in July 2013, when I was in Pacifico de villa with the lovely July group. It was another day of placement in the community and we were just about to have lunch. Daniel walked in with a tall guy, sat down with him at a table, gave him a lunch and was talking to him all lunch. Later on Daniel came over to our table, and said that he saw Jose outside the community centre and invited him in for lunch. Jose was just a curious bystander wondering what these crazy canadians were doing in the community centre.

I met jose briefly that day. I heard his story, that he had just moved to Pacifico a month and a half ago, and was living with his uncle and aunt. After mentioning to Larry (Boss man) that we should invite jose tomorrow for the health campaign, I soon realized he had already thought of doing that.

The next day, we had our health campaign (Check out blog from July 12th). Jose is in one of the pictures BECAUSE, as soon as he arrived that day, he just took in charge. He was responsible for the registration of everyone who came to our event. I joked around with him as much as I could in spanish, and watched as he would inform everyone about the event, and tell them to register, and basically commit to this job he has been given, without even asking any questions. He just made himself a part of what we were doing. And I admired that.

Since that day, Jose joined us everyday. Seeing his lovely smiling face brightened up my day. Within a week he had made relationships with many of us.

His message was simple, give the love you wish you receive. 

He interacted with the kids, he interacted with the volunteers and most of all, he had found a sense of belonging in Pacifico. Why do I say that? Well as our relationship grew, I found out that in the past month that he had been in Pacifico, he didn’t enjoy it much because he didn’t know many people. (No one likes to move). I was happy to know that joining SIAs vision gave him a sense of responsibility, and belonging that he had hoped for.

Jose, joined the program Leaders de villa and was a part of hosting an event and doing an amazing presentation on garbage for the community members (In August). He was a committed student of the english classes we held. He also started working with Youth in Action and helping with Daniel. It was that simple.

As other groups came down, we saw jose’s leadership skills rise day by day. He was a part of everything we did. I spent my last month and a half of summer with him everyday, and saw him grow so much.

So, why is jose so special?

Because he proves that life is full of surprises. It is not a surprise to me that he is like a little brother to me and many others who have interacted with him in the past few months.

What I have learned from him is that you should be open to any opportunities that come your way. Treat everyone with respect, love, care and affection. Tell everyone they are beautiful. Commit to the things you truly love. And that love really needs no translation.

(left to right) Julie, Jhoselyn, Me, and Jose.
The day we all metIMG_1448
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1238086_498924796850061_1120172615_n Natalee and Jose

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“A Loving heart is the beginning of all knowledge.”

-Mansi Parasher