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Faith and Joy for Students in Lima

After spending two weeks visiting our affiliated projects in Colombia and Peru, our Director of International Programs, Luis Bourdet, and I were scheduled to visit with our last school before returning home — the Villa School outside of Lima, Peru.

Located in the Villa El Salvador slum district in the outskirts of the capital, the Villa School is a “Fe y Alegría” school. Fe y Alegría schools are a federation of local organizations which offer educational opportunities to the poorest sectors of society.

About Fe y Alegría

Students wear matching school outfits with the name of the school and the neighborhood.

Founded in 1955 by the Society of Jesus in Venezuela as a movement to promote comprehensive education and social development, there are currently Fe y Alegría schools in 19 countries around the world. Fe y Alegría schools work to strengthen education for marginalized populations through specific methods:

-Teacher Training: Ongoing training provided for teachers and school directors, including in computer technology.

-Technical Education: Fe y Alegría schools provide students with technical training that prepares them for the workforce, with the aim of promoting sustainable development.

-Higher Technological Education: Training is also provided to prepare children for technical careers that respond to the needs of the local/regional economy in which the institutes are located.

-Rural Education: Fe y Alegría schools provide capacity building in rural areas of Peru, working to develop educational materials suitable to the needs of the local region.

-Basic Alternative Education for Adults: The schools offer adults who were unable to complete their school studies the opportunity to pursue elementary and high school-level studies.

-Inclusive Education: Fe y Alegría seeks to promote the participation and integration of children with disabilities in the education system. It does so through teacher training and the development of learning materials catered to the specific needs of disabled students.

Currently, Fe y Alegría is running 79 high schools, 161 schools in 6 rural areas, 268 technical schools and workshops, 7 institutes of higher technology, and 20 centers of technical and production education.

Many spoke of how important sponsorship was to them and how sponsors helped not only the children, but the entire family.

The Villa School

When we arrived at the Villa School, we met with our volunteer coordinator, Ines, who had a special presentation prepared for us. We gathered with a few dozen of our sponsored children and their mothers in a large room where chairs had been set up in a circle.

Luis and I sat, and a group of older children performed a traditional Peruvian dance for us. When the dance was over, mothers and students expressed to us sentiments about their sponsors.

Many spoke of how important sponsorship was to them and how sponsors helped not only the children, but the entire family.

A few of the mothers became emotional as they spoke, mentioning how grateful they were to know there were people in the world willing to help their children get through school so they could have the chance at a better life away from slum neighborhoods in Lima.

Happy children all around

Afterward, Luis and I took a tour of the large school, where multiple basketball courts and soccer fields were surrounded by classrooms, carpentry workshops, and buildings with spaces for dancing, music classes and other recreational activities.

As we made our way around the rectangular path of the school with Ines, hundreds of smiling students dressed in matching Fe y Alegría School uniforms walked, ran and skipped past us gleefully. It was apparent that they were enjoying their time with their friends and teachers. I could tell this was, indeed, a place of faith and joy for all the children at this special Fe y Alegría school.

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How do I sponsor a child in Peru?  

You can sponsor a child in Peru in one of three ways: call our office at 1-800-538-5381 and speak with one of our staff members; email us at sponsorship@children-inc.org; or go online to our sponsorship portal, create an account, and search for a child in Peru that is available for sponsorship.

SPONSOR A CHILD

 

Head of the Class in Peru

Located along South America’s central-western coast, Peru comprises arid Pacific coastlands, spectacular mountain ranges and the vast Amazon rainforest. This land has been home to indigenous peoples for thousands of years, including the Inca Empire, the culture that constructed Peru’s most iconic landmark, Machu Picchu.

Peru’s rich culture, breathtaking beauty, and wealth of natural resources, however, belie the abject poverty in which many of its residents live. Many rural areas are still recovering from the Sendero Luminoso terrorist attacks of the 1990s, which claimed countless lives and caused thousands of families who had relied on agriculture for generations to seek shelter in large cities where they encountered even deeper poverty.

A safe place for girls

While Peru as a whole suffers from high unemployment, hyperinflation and other difficulties that poverty entails, problems like disease, malnutrition and crime are most pronounced in its overcrowded urban areas. These problems are the worst in the nation’s capital, Lima, where our affiliated project, the Puente Piedra Girls’ Home, is located.

Established by an order of nuns, the home offers girls ages five to twenty-two shelter and a safe place to receive a quality education all within the same vicinity. Currently, the Puente Piedra Girls’ Home serves over a thousand children in kindergarten through twelfth grade and is run by a dedicated staff of educators — many of whom are former students and residents of the Girls’ Home who grew up in our sponsorship program.

Seeing Lima for the first time

When International Director of Programs, Luis Bourdet, and I arrived in Peru, we made our way to the Puente Piedra neighborhood to meet with our volunteer coordinator, Sister Ana Maria.

Located about an hour’s drive outside of the center of Lima, the extreme poverty in the sprawling urban areas was apparent just from looking out the window of the moving taxi. Perched on dusty hillsides, small shacks made of wood and corrugated tin towered above the highway. For low-income families living in these homes, their only option was to build houses without permission in places where no one else wanted to live. As these communities became more established, locals banned together to collect money to build roads or narrow staircases leading up to houses — things that the government might otherwise do if these shantytowns were legally recognized.

When we arrived at Puente Piedra, Sister Ana Maria took us on a tour of the beautiful facility.

Well-kept dormitories were divided by age group, and a house mother was assigned to each dorm to look after the children. An adjacent school offered classrooms, a library and a computer lab. The spacious grounds also had plenty of places for girls to play, with trees and gardens surrounding all the school buildings.

No other place to go

Sister Ana Maria explained to Luis and me that many of these girls come from homes where they are neglected because either they have no immediate family to take care of them or their families are so poor they cannot feed and clothe their children properly.

For these girls, living full time at Puente Piedra allows them to attend school and thrive in a nurturing environment. It also prevents them from experiencing the poverty their parents’ experience. Even on school holidays, most of the girls stay at the home, having no reason to return to their families where they would have nothing to eat and nowhere to sleep.

Former sponsored children ARE the next generation

We made our way to the school administration offices, which are centered among basketball and volleyball courts, where hundreds of students were enjoying recess.

As we approached the principal’s office, a teacher came out of one of the classrooms and introduced herself as a former sponsored child. Luis and I were pleased to meet her, listening to her talk about her fond memories of her sponsors, even remembering their name after more than 30 years.

A moment later, another teacher appeared and greeted us as a former sponsored child as well. Before I knew it, we were surrounded by ten administrators — including the principal — who had all been in the Children Incorporated program.

For these women, the motivation and encouragement, as well as the financial support they received from the sponsors, gave them a reason to stay in school, graduate, continue onto higher education, and return to Puente Piedra to lead other girls to success.

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HOW DO I SPONSOR A CHILD IN PERU?

You can sponsor a child in Peru in one of three ways: call our office at 1-800-538-5381 and speak with one of our staff members; email us at sponsorship@children-inc.org; or go online to our sponsorship portal, create an account, and search for a child in Peru that is available for sponsorship.

Understanding Peru

Located along South America’s central-western coast, Peru includes arid Pacific coastlands, spectacular mountain ranges and vast Amazon rainforest. This land has been home to indigenous peoples for thousands of years, including the Inca Empire, which constructed Peru’s most iconic landmark, Machu Picchu.

Sponsors positively impact the lives of the children they sponsor through the knowledge that someone cares about their well-being. This gives children in need hope, which is powerful.

Peru’s rich culture, breathtaking beauty and wealth of natural resources, however, belie the abject poverty in which many of its residents live. Many rural areas are still recovering from the Sendero Luminoso terrorist attacks of the 1990s, which claimed countless lives and caused thousands of families who had relied upon agriculture for generations to seek shelter in large cities. Unfortunately, these migrants to urban areas encountered an even deeper level of poverty there. While Peru as a whole suffers from high unemployment, hyperinflation and all the difficulties that poverty entails such as disease, malnutrition and crime, these maladies are most pronounced in its overcrowded urban areas.

Facts about Peru

–    The capital is Lima
–    Peru is the third-largest country in South America
–    Population: 30,444,999
–    Major languages: Spanish, Quechua, Aymara, Ashaninka
–    Roasted guinea pig, called Cuy, is the national dish of Peru
–    Three-quarters of the world’s alpaca population lives in Peru
–    There are over 3000 types of potatoes grown in the country
–    Machu Picchu is one of the seven wonders of the world
–    The largest flying bird on Earth is in Peru, The Giant Andean Condor

Facts about poverty in Peru

–    The poverty rate in Peru is 25.8%
–    6.9 million Peruvians live in poverty
–    Per capita income in Peru is $3,500 a year
–    About 60 percent of Peruvians earn less than $190 a month
–    Because of the rampant poverty, Lima has a large number of illegal shantytowns, where residents live without running water or electricity
–    About 34% of children in Peru work to help their families
–    Because many families live in rural regions, the Peruvian government finds it difficult to provide healthcare for children


Where we work

In Peru, we affiliate with three projects in and around Lima, the Chacarilla School in the impoverished Chacarilla neighborhood to the south of the city, the Puente Piedra Girls Home in the Puente Piedra districted to the north of Lima, and the Villa School, which is also located in the Puente Piedra area.

How you can help in Peru

You can help a child living in poverty in Peru in a few different ways. One way is through our child sponsorship program. Sponsorship provides an underprivileged child with basic and education-related necessities such as food, clothing, healthcare, school supplies and school tuition payments.

This vital support allows impoverished, vulnerable children to develop to their full potential — physically, emotionally and socially. Sponsors positively impact the lives of the children they sponsor through the knowledge that someone cares about their well-being. This gives children in need hope, which is powerful.

Sponsorship provides an underprivileged child with basic and education-related necessities such as food, clothing, healthcare, school supplies and school tuition payments.

Thanks to donations to our Hope In Action Fund and our International Feeding Program, we have been able to further support our projects in Peru beyond sponsorship.

Our policy has always been to consider the needs of each sponsored child on an individual basis. We work closely with our volunteer coordinators at our project sites in Peru, who are familiar with each individual circumstance and the needs of every child in their care. Sponsorship donations are sent to our projects — orphanages, homes, community centers and schools — at the beginning of each month in the form of subsidy stipends. Our on-site volunteer coordinators use those funds to purchase items for children in our program, to ensure that they have what they need to do their very best and succeed in school.

You can also help children in Peru by donating to one of our special funds. Our special funds offer a variety of giving options for sponsors who wish to further their support, as well as for donors who wish to make a difference without making a commitment. Thanks to donations to our Hope In Action Fund and our International Feeding Program, we have been able to further support our projects in Peru beyond sponsorship.

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