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News Archive 2010
Dear friends of Building Dignity,
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year from Villa El Salvador, Peru! Our names are Madeleine Willis and Laura Stockdale. A little over a week ago we arrived from Australia to live and work full-time, for 5 weeks, as volunteers at the Center for Development with Dignity.
Along with Jesús, Martha, Emily, and the rest of the team here in La Encantada, we hit the ground running, continuing the ongoing English classes and preparing for the 10th annual Chocolatadas. Armed with hundreds of toys and a taxi full of milk, sugar, chocolate, and panetón (holiday bread), we hosted Chocolatadas in the communities of Pachacamac, Oasis, and La Encantada. Nothing could have quite prepared us for the rush of hundreds of children (and the occasional parent!) clamoring for “chocolate!” or the ability of some to consume twice their body weight in panetón.
The Chocolatadas were a fantastic way to bring an afternoon of fun and festive spirit to these communities. Thanks to generous donations, we were also able to begun building a series of playgrounds. We began this year with swings and slides (see photos), and will add more equipment each December for five years, until the playgrounds are complete.
We would like to thank those of you who so kindly donated to the Chocolatadas and Building Dignity’s other projects this year. If you have not yet donated in 2010 and would like to, please visit www.buildingdignity.org/donate to contribute. You can visit www.buildingdignity.org/programs/future-plans to see the 2011 projects your donation will support, like a new Leadership Academy.
January will be busy, as we begin the (Peruvian) summer vacation program. The two of us will continue to teach English, and will also offer a dance workshop, culminating in a music clip shot on location in Villa el Salvador! Another volunteer, Naomi Nanez, will be conducting an empowerment workshop for young girls, which will engage its students in a myriad of creative activities aimed at forming strong leadership skills. Plus this Tuesday, December 28, we will host the inauguration of the Biblioteca de Dignidad ("Dignity Library"), which the neighbors are quite excited about, since no library exists in the area (Spanish-language books can be donated through Paul Dosh).
Feliz Navidad from Villa El Salvador, and hasta luego!
-- Maddie Willis and Laura Stockdale
The below attached article is reprinted with permission from the Jack Kent Cooke Foundation.
Published: Tuesday, September 14, 2010
We’ve been busy at Building Dignity! Recent highlights:
The Center for Development with Dignity is a busy place this summer with each of us spending 5 weeks there between July and September. Since June we've been working on a research project that explores the strengths and weaknesses of NGOs similar to Building Dignity in La Paz/El Alto, Bolivia and Lima, Peru. The objective of the project is to contribute to the literature on development NGOs while also learning from the experiences of others so as to improve our own work. Our Bolivian colleagues are excited about our work in Peru. Henrik Mitsch and César Flores finished the Spanish version of our web site (espanol.buildingdignity.org) and community leaders in Bolivia have loved looking at the colorful site and reading about the work of the Center.
Building Dignity is also very excited to welcome a new member to our team: Kayla Richards. A 2010 graduate of Macalester College, Kayla will be moving to Lima in September for six months to be our new program coordinator. Kayla will be helping us to improve the Center for Development with Dignity and expand our programming.
During the two months that all four Building Dignity directors will be in La Encantada, we have a number of projects we hope to undertake. We have begun a series of community workshops and events and we will be conducting a survey of the neighborhood (developed by Oxford students this past year) that will provide valuable information about the community and its needs. We also have a few projects in which we invite all of our supporters to participate:
--Pablo and Emily
Dear friends of Building Dignity,
Amanda Dixon, of Chicago, writes about her experience working at the Center for Development with Dignity (see photos below):
My time at Building Dignity involved working directly with the children of the community. While it was a hard and tiring experience it was also incredibly rewarding. I was fortunate to work with the future leaders of the community and see, first hand, the hope for the future. I am a strong believer in the power of children and the importance of providing children with opportunities to be involved in productive activities, and that is what Building Dignity does.
The mission of Building Dignity is to strengthen the community by training and motivating new leaders, a crucial step in fighting La Encantada’s poverty. My individual experience evidences the ways in which Building Dignity is putting this mission into practice. The children are the future of La Encantada and Villa El Salvador, and after my time working with kids, my heart is filled with a deep happiness and satisfaction because I see a bright future full of potential and opportunity for La Encantada.
When I look back at my 14+ months living in Lima, Peru, my experience working with Building Dignity in La Encantada will be one of the first experiences to come to mind. It is an experience that I will carry in my heart and I am so thankful to have been a part of Building Dignity.
After over a year in Peru, Amanda now heads off to UC Berkeley to begin a law degree. We wish her the best and look forward to her next visit to Lima!
Dear friends of Building Dignity,
Laura Spencer of Seattle, Washington spent the past five weeks living in La Encantada at the Center for Development with Dignity, helping with our 9th annual Chocolatadas and other work, and teaching swing dancing to the community. Included here is a final update from her, a few photos, and a link to an awesome 3-minute YouTube video of her students dancing to Zoot Suit Riot!
From: Laura Spencer
I came to Latin America in my year off after college unsure of what I wanted to do with my future but with a yearning for adventure, growth, and new experiences, and in Villa El Salvador I certainly found it all! Experiencing Peru from the periphery of its capital gave me a much fuller understanding of the country than one I had previously gotten in visits to only the most tourist-friendly parts (Miraflores in Lima, Machu Picchu, and some surrounding archeological sites).--Laura Spencer
Remarkably, in Villa -- the one area that I did NOT feel was catering to me with tour guides, signs in English, souvenir markets, and Starbucks -- I felt most at home. I loved that in Villa I didn´t feel like anything was fake. In Miraflores, there is a lovely clean, ordered plaza with flowers and artwork where you see tourists sitting with coffee and looking at guidebooks. Unfortunately, this nice image is a very small sector of Lima, especially when contrasted with the Villa district of half a million residents with dirt roads, houses that flood, no running water, and garbage strewn about. One can´t help but feel a bit deceived by the image of the central plaza in Miraflores when it is such a small part of Lima, and Villa is such a large one.
Yet in Villa, despite the discomforts that come from lack of infrastructure, I felt more comfortable and at home than I have since my travels began (I recently spent a month in Buenos Aires, and several weeks in Chile). The Valencia Huamán family was so kind and attentive that I felt a deep connection to them in the short month I spent in Villa; try as I might I couldn´t hold back the tears yesterday at my departure. I became attached not only to my family, but also to my friendly neighbors, and the kids in my dance class who were bright, full of energy, and never failed to make me laugh.
As a traveler and a writer (hopefully one day a published one) what most inspires me are the human connections I make, and after living in Villa I feel like I could write a novel! Thank you so much Paul, Emily, Jesús, Martha, and everyone else responsible for this wonderful organization and giving me a chance to me a part of it!
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