Our Work in Peru
Trip to Peru June 2016
In June 2016 a group of nine students from 5th Year travelled to Peru to volunteer for the Teresian centre in Villa El Salvador, South of Lima. This was the 8th group volunteering since the programme was launched. A vast programme of fundraising events took place during the school year. The group proudly raised more than 20,000 euro to fund the centre.
We left Dublin on 10th June and spent the weekend in Lima at the Teresian University Residence. We went on a walking tour of Lima accompanied by the history teacher of the Teresian School. We also learnt about the history of Peru and its people by visiting two archaeological museums and explored the fashionable district of Miraflores that looks onto the Pacific Ocean and the bohemian area of city called Barranco. We also stopped by the University building designed by the Irish architects who donated towards the project.
Our visit to Lima helped us to bridge the gap between Ireland and Peru and slowly immerse us into the Peruvian world. When we travelled to Villa El Salvador, we could notice that we were leaving the comforts of the capital to face a more demanding environment. Buildings look very different, some of the houses are unfinished, roads are bumpy and the happy buzz of the capital life suddenly disappears.
The town of Villa el Salvador was founded at the beginning of the 1970s when thousands of people decided to leave the mountainous regions of Peru in search for a new place where to settle, escaping from poverty and lack of resources. This phenomenon is widespread in Peru. Many people left and still leave the Andes and Amazon tried to move to the city centres with the hope of finding better living conditions. The people who settled in Villa El Salvador started to live in what was a desert area 30 km South of Lima and lobbied the government to obtain a plot of land where they could build accommodation. They managed to obtain the land and everyone was assigned an equal plot. Unlike other settlements, Villa El Salvador originated as an organised town where every neighbourhood (“sector”) would have access to community services such as schools, medical assistance, shops etc. They also planned specific purpose areas within the city, such as an area dedicated to growing agricultural products, an area for small factories (mainly furniture) and a leisure area near the beach. The original plans, however, were then destroyed by threats coming from the terrorist movements and later by drug dealing. Furthermore, the corruption of local authorities has left Villa El Salvador in a state of neglect. This is where the work of the local organisations has stepped in. The Centre Guadix which has developed from the work of the previous centre called Solydes, is one of the organisation that tries to provide educational and recreational opportunities in a place where young people don’t have much room for their personal development.
During the two weeks volunteer programme we worked in local junior schools helping the teachers with the children. The partner schools of Centre Guadix do not receive governmental funding and were created out of the needs of many single mothers to provide childcare while at work in Lima all day. These schools have very limited resources and parts of the monies raised were donated to support them with both food and school supplies. The work with the children was the best part of our experience. Their unconditional love and happiness for the novelty we brought filled their and our hearts every day. It was very difficult to say goodbye on the last day. Both parents and teachers were really appreciative of our contribution to the schools.
After school, we spent the afternoons working in the Guadix Centre which is attended by some of the children of these schools. The centre is the only recreational space of this area and children love coming here to receive literacy support by the staff members, improve their IT skills by using the library computers or just play with the many educational toys. These children come from deprived backgrounds. During the afternoon activities we organised sport games and competitions but we also involved the children in gardening and maintenance jobs to develop a love for this space and improve the surrounding areas. The new team at the Centre Guadix was a bit anxious about letting us outside the centre to run the activities but we set an example for the neighbourhood who appreciated our work and respected our presence in the area. The centre is now continuing its activities thanks to the funds collected during the year thus strengthening the vital connection between Dublin and Villa El Salvador.
We have come back with hearts filled with love and minds alert to world injustice. As we prepare to leave the school to take another leap into the future, we hope we can work towards a fairer world in our careers and lives.
A new Peru Crew 2017 has now started their preparation towards this unforgettable journey to Villa El Salvador.
Peru Crew 2016
Natuca Cordón & Lorena Lampedecchia
Trip to Peru June 2015
A group of 8 students from 5th year and two teachers travelled to Peru on 19th June 2015 to support the work that the Teresian NGO Solydes has carried out in Villa El Salvador. For the last ten years, seven groups of 5th students have travelled to Peru to bring our contribution to the Peruvian projects.
On our arrival, we were warmly greeted by the team of Solydes at the airport. We were very excited, not really knowing what we were going to face during the upcoming weeks. We were received with open arms to say the least. We drove up to Villa El Salvador, a city outside Lima. The town of Villa El Salvador was founded at the beginning of the 1970s when thousands of people decided to leave the forest and the mountainous regions of Peru in search of a new place to settle. Peruvians were escaping from poverty and lack of resources. However, the life in the new settlements has been extremely difficult due to the lack of facilities and opportunities.
Villa El Salvador rose from a desert area and people have been struggling over many years to convert it into a place for living. Initially, Villa El Salvador, unlike other settlements in Peru, boasted very good urban plans but these fell through due to the threats coming from the terrorist movements and drug-related crime. Furthermore, the corruption of local authorities has left Villa El Salvador in a state of neglect.
This is where the work of the local organizations has stepped in. In Villa El Salvador many people have decided to come together and act to improve the quality of life of the people. The work of Solydes and other community organizations steps in to provide educational and recreational opportunities in a place where young people have little space for personal development. Solydes, in particular, ensures that the personal development needs of both young and adult generations are addressed. All the people we worked with were incredibly nice and treated us like we were part of their family. The team of Solydes accompanied us throughout the two weeks and we became very close by the end of the trip.
We all worked in pairs in different places during the mornings. This kind of work was mainly with young children between the age of 1 and 5. These children mainly come from poor single parent families where mothers have to travel to Lima to work all day and have no time to look after their children. Our presence brought some support to the local teachers and surprise and joy to the children. We found it very enjoyable to get know the teachers and the children, and work for them.
During the afternoons, we would all work together as a group in a local secondary school. We did basic jobs like painting, cleaning and building, but it made a big impact on the school.
We found that going on our trip to Peru was one of the best experiences of our lives. Working towards the fundraising during the year was hard work, but it was all worth it by the time we got there. We not only helped people, but we also got to learn about their culture and learn more about ourselves as individuals and as a group.
We would highly recommend taking part in the projects to the upcoming fifth years. We had an amazing time!
If you want to learn more about our days in Peru why not read the blog on http://teresian.ie/secondary-school/peru-volunteer-trip/
Fiorella Barchetta and Lorena Lampedecchia on behalf of the Peru Crew 2015