News Archive 2009

December 29, 2009

posted Jan 23, 2010, 7:32 PM by Henrik Mitsch   [ updated Jan 27, 2013, 8:41 AM ]

Dear friends of Building Dignity,

As 2009 comes to a close we wanted to update you on work in Lima, Peru and thank you for your support.

In August 2009, Paul joined Emily, Jesús, and Martha in La Encantada to inaugurate the Center for Development with Dignity. During a week of activities (including workshops, concerts, and presentations) we introduced the center to the community, and our momentum has been growing ever since.

In September, Emily said goodbye (for now) to the Building Dignity team in Peru and headed off to Oxford for graduate studies in international development. Jesús and Martha have kept the center vibrant: from Monday to Friday, the Center for Development with Dignity is home to wawa wasis, a daycare program for children ages 0-3. In the evenings, the center has become the regular meeting place for La Encantada leaders and activists who are working to achieve important goals such as water installation. On the weekends, two Peruvian college students, Ivan and Fiorella, teach ‘drop-in’ classes in math and language arts for La Encantada students who want extra help in those subjects. In December, Laura Spencer (a graduate of Macalester College) arrived in La Encantada and has been staying with Jesús and Martha. An avid swing dancer, Laura is currently organizing a series of lindy hop dance workshops later this month.

From December 19-21, Jesús, Laura and the team organized the 9th annual Chocolatada parties in Villa El Salvador. This year, we hosted 1,000 children at Chocolatadas in three locations. As always, our first two parties were in the neighborhoods of La Encantada and Oasis. In previous years, we have hosted Chocolatadas in Upis Villa Mar, a neighborhood close to La Encantada. The community has since relocated, acquiring land in the neighboring district of Pachacamac. While we miss our friends, we are happy that they are now living in a community with access to water and more stable housing. We were especially happy to organize a Chocolatadas in this new neighborhood, Santísimo Salvador. For more pictures of this year's Chocolatadas, we invite you to view Laura's online album:

During the past year, Building Dignity has coordinated sister-school partnerships between schools in Oasis and La Encantada and schools in the United States and Australia. Elementary students exchanged letters and souvenirs from their home communities. The students from Australia and the United States also sponsored the 6th grade graduation ceremonies of their pen pals in Villa El Salvador this December. The Building Dignity team would like to thank Jo Higgins and Brooke Haubrick for their great work in organizing the exchange between their respective schools and the classrooms in Villa El Salvador.

We are also pleased to introduce our supporters to the new member of the Building Dignity team. Susie Taylor from Madison, WI will move to Lima this February to begin work as a Center for Development with Dignity Coordinator. She will be working with Jesús and Martha to develop programming and improve the center’s facilities. Susie was able to visit the center during the early stages of construction while she was volunteering with Villa El Salvador’s senior citizen population. She is now returning to Peru for a longer stay, and we are excited to have her with us!

The Building Dignity team is looking forward to 2010. Our rapidly expanding team is generating creative ideas and community involvement is increasing. We thank you once again for your support.

Emily, Martha, Paul, and Jesús

Victoria Fajardo and "Chocolatada Queen" Laura Spencer

Kids eating panetón

Clowns performing in Oasis de Villa

September 4, 2009

posted Jan 23, 2010, 7:23 PM by Henrik Mitsch   [ updated Jan 27, 2013, 8:41 AM ]

Dear friends of Building Dignity,

After five months of construction, we inaugurated the Center for Development with Dignity with six days of programming on August 8-14, including workshops, a lecture, a poetry reading, a dance performance, a concert, tours of the building, a community meeting, and the unveiling of a permanent photo exhibit. I was in Peru on a research trip and was delighted to attend the last three days of activities. For me, possibly the best moment of my week was my first visit to the Center. Emily, Jesús, and Martha have been working incredibly hard, 6-7 days a week, 8-10 hours a day, since March, and they were beaming with pride as they gave me my official tour of the building. I hadn't been in Lima since December and had only seen photographs, so getting to see the finished product was inspiring.

The ground floor now includes an assembly room, a garden (accessed via cool sliding glass doors), a library/technology room, a patio, a public kitchen, an office, a corridor, and a bathroom (there is also a room that will eventually be a second public bathroom). The ground floor is finished and painted, but not yet fully furnished. The second floor contains three bedrooms, a living room, a family kitchen, a bathroom, an office, a corridor, and a guest room (I'm lobbying for them to paint the guest room purple...). And the roof has a short wall encircling it so that the kids will be able to play there safely (once there are no longer piles of bricks they can climb to get over the wall!). The view from the roof is stunning, since the Center is on a hill and is, for the time being, taller than all the adjacent buildings.

Community members were excited to see the 18 framed photos (by James Lerager) that capture scenes of organizing and political struggle in La Encantada. Emily's English workshops were overwhelmingly popular, and resulted in a daily stream of interested parents showing up to enroll their children. I gave a talk about my research in Ecuador with Jesús and Nicole Kligerman and I also did a Spanish performance of poetry from our March fundraising concert at Macalester. It was great having Jesús present for my poem "La Historia de Jesús Valencia". The sixth and final day of programming was especially fun. We needed a large performance space for the dance group and the Colectivo Circo Band, so we set up on the soccer field, a block from the Center. We spent a few hours that day walking the streets of La Encantada handing out fliers, and thus had a great turnout of a couple hundred neighbors. Rainfall (in the Lima desert!) eventually drove us indoors and forced the music to end early, but we had food waiting to keep everyone smiling (if a bit damp).

THANK YOU to all of you for making the Center for Development with Dignity a reality! Work remains ahead for us, but with the building complete, Emily will soon head to Oxford for grad school, with management of the Center in the capable hands of Jesús & Martha. I am so impressed with the leadership shown by Emily, Jesús, and Martha, and wish you could have all been there in Lima for this exciting week.


Speaking to a Peruvian audience, Paul Dosh describes the organizing tactics of Ecuadorian popular organizations

Pre-dance pep talk

The Colectivo Circo Band got everybody dancing, despite the rain! 

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