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