News Archive 2011
Hola! Welcome to the Building Dignity blog! This blog will serve as a way to communicate the many things we're working on here at the Center for Development with Dignity (CEDED) so you can (at least vicariously) be a part of the action. Feel free to share your comments and thoughts with us by email. In this first post, I'll try to sum up an exciting 2 months of activity here at CEDED. Here goes ...
It didn't take too long for me to settle in to the rhythm here at the Center for Development with Dignity (CEDED)--or maybe the rhythm settled into me. Since arriving at the crack of dawn on September 15th, my work at Building Dignity has been fast paced and full of inspiration. By the end of September, I had met with a national congressman here in the Center, coordinated with City Hall to get our first Leadership Grant project off the ground, and gotten to know the many leaders and neighbors who are working on the development of Lomo de Corvina (the hill at the edge of Villa El Salvador where we are located).
To date, we have successfully implemented our spring (here in the southern hemisphere) season of workshops for youth and adult leaders. These workshops range from math and homework tutoring every weekend, music classes on Saturday mornings, our leadership school for young women, and computer classes and weekly meetings with dirigentes (elected neighborhood leaders). We are also partnering with an Italian NGO here in Lima called CESVI (www.cesvi.org) which facilitates a workshop for youth every week focused on entrepreneurship and implementing projects and events for the community. At the beginning of October, the CESVI group put on a movie showing that brought over 100 people through our doors! The group is currently working on promoting a neighborhood festival this coming Saturday (November 19) with a theatre and arts NGO called Arena y Esteras and another movie showing in December.
One of CEDED's most important programs is the Leadership Academy which trains local leaders of all ages to better serve and improve their community. I have been in charge of organizing our leadership circle for young women (ages 11-16), along with the support of some volunteer study abroad students from the U.S. There are approximately 7 girls who attend consistently and we have been discussing the issues of human rights and women's rights along with playing leadership and teambuilding games. November 25th we will have a closing event for our Level 1 class where the participants will get a chance to present to their parents what they've learned. Beginning in January, we will start a new Level 1 class for boys and girls as well as continue with our current group on to Level 2.
These past 2 months have also seen CEDED expand its connections in the community. Recently, I had meetings at City Hall in Villa El Salvador and met with the directors of Urban Development as well as Citizen Participation with the goal of developing a better relationship with local government. In the future, I plan on inviting representatives from City Hall to speak to groups of dirigentes to help facilitate cooperation between the two important community stakeholders. This will also be a part of a larger initiative to develop a leadership curriculum for dirigentes to better prepare them to lead successful development projects and initiatives.
Speaking of mutual cooperation, CEDED has been fortunate enough to sign an agreement with the María Elena Moyano Institute of Technology (ISMEM) which is currently providing free computer classes for dirigentes from Lomo de Corvina. In return, some of our volunteers are teaching weekly English workshops for the students at ISMEM.
Speaking of dirigentes, Betty Lozano, who won our first round of Leadership Grants, is continuing to make progress on her project which is to put a new roof on the preschool in her neighborhood. Through our connections at City Hall we have succeeded in getting a detailed architectural plan and cost analysis. Now all that is left to do is secure outside financial support and donations of materials. Other than the $500 that Building Dignity is financing, Betty's neighbors are pitching in and Betty is soliciting cement, bricks, and rebar donations from local businesses and the municipality. Below is a preliminary architectural plan that we obtained after a municipal architect visited the school back in October.
The last bit of action that I'll share with you in this blog entry is our newly budding musicians of Villa El Salvador. On Saturday, I had 7 guitar players come to learn form Andy and Alfa (two volunteers, friends of mine, and and fellow neighbors) as well as a few students interested in the Cajón (an Afro-Peruvian percussion instrument resembling a wooden box that you sit on and play, hitting the front panel with your hands). Thanks to a generous donation from Patty and John Mueller, we have been able to purchase a guitar, 7 cajones, and an amplifier. In the future I plan on giving local artists in the area around La Encantada a space at CEDED to perform and share their art. This music class will hopefully be the beginning of that process.
Dear friends of Building Dignity,
Recently, the Center for Development with Dignity (CEDED) hosted our youngest volunteers yet. Educator Elizabeth Henke and six students from Montessori High School
"My initial impression of Villa El Salvador was one of surprise. I was surprised at how such a poor city could be located so close to one so prosperous (Lima). I was initially worried about how safe it would be for us in Villa El Salvador on a daily basis, but those worries quickly went away when we started to walk around and meet some of the people living there. It seemed not safe when we first arrived, but the people living there were so kind and that made us feel very comfortable to be in that area. The time spent in Villa almost felt more safe than the time spent in Lima." --Christian
Picture on the right: Painting the Garden Room. Laru became our expert painter, spending much of his time over the three days painting the garden room with the help of Betty and Daria, and of course, Encantada resident "Michelangelo".
"I kept an open mind going into Villa El Salvador. I honestly had no idea what to expect. Driving into Villa El Salvador, my first impressions were trash everywhere, lot and lots of stray dogs, and run-down even though there were people all about! Normally all this would lead me to think it is a dangerous, unhappy place. But once we stepped out of the bus and visited the Mayor, we were greeted by happy, proud people! In fact, they were celebrating their 40th year anniversary so the city was quite new contrary to my first impressions. As Jesús led us through rows and rows of 'houses' made out of mostly scrap materials, the people said ‘hola’ with smiles on their faces; yet they were living in insufficient housing with dirt floors, and no running water! As time went on in getting to know Villa El Salvador I was surprised by the unity and optimism of the people, all working toward the same goal with happiness and courage instead of discontent and violence. This place became safer and safer as I watched three- and four-year old children walk home from the center in the dark, all alone! Children that age wouldn’t do that in the U.S. The other thing that blew me away was the generosity of the people. I went to a soup kitchen and they offered us food even though they only had so much food to feed the women and children in need. It really left me with an appreciation and thankfulness of my life, but more so, the lesson that one can choose to find the good in any situation. With this experience, I hope to do that myself and always remember the optimism of the people of Villa El Salvador." --Serena
Picture on the right: Playing guitar. Otto, our traveling musician, enhanced our time at Building Dignity by performing songs for the children in the kindergarten class and Wawa Wasi (daycare).
"One of the most astounding things I witnessed was seeing how gingerly and thoughtfully the students used materials--one at a time. The Montessori philosophy of limited material was played out here, born of circumstance, but with the same result: the material had value. It was there to be shared and respected." --Elizabeth
Picture on the right: Radio Interview. Savannah and Elizabeth represented the group as the radio host asked questions ranging from why we chose to visit Villa el Salvador to what is most American’s response to global warming and climate change. Upon completion as we were walking down the street, we were greeted by people who had listened to the broadcast! They warmly thanked us for coming to their city and working with CEDED.
Picture on the left: English workshop. Savannah and Betty take time to teach the parts of the body along with naming the members of the family. The students listened, drew, labeled, and sang “Head, Shoulders, Knees, and Toes.”
Recent Building Dignity HighlightsLeadership Grants: We awarded our first leadership grant to community leader Betty Lozano Revollar. The grant enables Betty to lead the construction of a concrete roof on a school. This $1,600 project is co-financed by Building Dignity (40%) and neighborhood residents (60%). Betty will also play a mentoring role in our upcoming grant competition for emerging leaders. Emily and Paul spent time in Lima in April and June developing this program.
Infrastructure: Students in Brooke Haubrick’s classroom at Adams Spanish Immersion School (St. Paul, MN) donated 136 new books to the CEDED library. And Carleton students Jason Anderson and Nicole Johnson are currently leading the design and completion of CEDED’s community kitchen. More from them in our next update.
Programming: We continue to offer 2-week and 4-week classes in English, math, sports, leadership, music, and poetry. Recent workshops have been led by Rocío Hernani and Indy Díaz Nuñez (Peru), John Boyce and Daniel Franklin (Australia), and Jason Anderson, Mary Ellen Dingley, Nicole Johnson, and Annabelle Potvin (U.S.).
Personnel: We are adding two new Program Coordinator positions (one Peruvian and one non-Peruvian). Macalester alum Andrew Mueller will fill the latter position beginning in September. We are recruiting in Lima to fill the other position.
Needed: Your old PC laptop that’s collecting dust on the shelf! CEDED needs two additional used PC laptops. The market value of your donated computer is tax-deductible. Talk to me if you can help with this important need.
Thanks to all our diverse supporters and volunteers!
December through February was Building Dignity's busiest period since the 2009 inauguration of the Center for Development with Dignity, with volunteers leading a host of activities.
Susie Taylor, of Portage, Wisconsin led a team of SoulsideOut volunteers test -- Athene Bryce-Rogers, Sadie Luetmer, and David Schiaffino -- on a month-long volunteer trip to La Encantada. Susie writes:
“The Center has been a hot spot of creativity and budding vision. We joined forces with Jesús, Martha, Emily, Naomi Nanez, and Australians Maddie Willis and Laura Stockdale to run a dance camp and empowerment workshop, teach English, inaugurate the Library of Dignity, paint a mural, build a garden, and deliver a new tiled floor to the bathroom!
¡Clases de Baile! Dancing to Shakira and Usher the kids met and practiced in the center two hours a day. At the end of the camp, parents, brothers, sisters, friends, and dancers headed to the park, plugged in the speakers, and put on a fabulous show. Giggling and playing, the kids bounced through their well-rehearsed routines against a backdrop of Villa. Epico.
Our weeks in La Encantada were inspiring and an honor to participate in. The Soulside thanks Building Dignity, Maddie, Laura, Emily, Naomi, Jesús & Martha, and the community at large. We are lucky to participate in this project; our aim is to continue providing a wider audience with an intimate window into the activities shaping this vibrant persevering community.”
Additional Recent Highlights
Programming: 9-week puppet-making workshop series; TV and Radio Communications classes
Personnel: As planned, we have begun paying modest salaries to Peruvian staff and Peruvian instructors. Non-Peruvian staff and volunteers will always donate their time and expenses.
Infrastructure: Internet upgraded to Wi-Fi; bathrooms finished (showers!)
Coming Soon: Leadership Fellowship Program!
In April, Emily and Jesús will lead a team of 10 veteran neighborhood activists in a five-week process of designing and initiating the first round of Building Dignity’s leadership fellowship program. This committee plans to begin soliciting applicants in May. Proposals for projects in the Lomo de Corvina region will be due in June and the first cohort of fellows will implement their projects beginning in July and August. Fellows will meet weekly to support each other in pursuing projects in their individual neighborhoods. We’re really excited to launch this program!
Thanks to all Jan/Feb/Mar volunteers: Emma Kaplan, Mary Ellen Dingley, César Flores, Naomi Nanez, Tito y sus Títeres (puppets), Maddie & Laura, and the SoulSideOut team
P.S. If you are one of our donors, please consider making your 2011 contribution early in the year to help even out our cash flow, since donations are concentrated in December. We appreciate your generosity!