LATEST NEWS >
News Archive 2012
December 2012: End-of-Year Reflections from Andrew Mueller, Building Dignity's 2011-12 Program Director
Dear friends of Building Dignity,
As 2012 comes to an end, it’s a good time to reflect on a productive year at Building Dignity. First, some numbers: 496 children, youth and adults benefited from our Community Education programs; 127 adolescents and 24 adults participated in our leadership training programs; our generous supporters expanded our collection of laptops from 2 to 7 computers, which are used to do homework and research by over 50 children and adults per week; and leadership grants that support adult and youth-led development projects grew from $500 to $2,500.
While the above list gives a taste of the extraordinary growth we’ve experienced over the past year, let’s take a closer look at some program highlights and the people who made this growth possible.
When I arrived in Villa El Salvador in September 2011, one of my goals was to expand the youth leadership program, Voices of Youth, which had previously been implemented as a pilot program. This program seeks to provide leadership education to highly motivated youth in our community in a dynamic workshop setting. At the culmination of the program, participants design and implement their own community service project to benefit their neighbors and peers. This year, we solidified the framework for the program and developed a strong cohort of young leaders who organized a youth rock concert in La Encantada, conducted screen-printing classes for their peers, and helped out with a puppetry workshop for children. One of our most dedicated graduates of this program, Claudia Pezo, now works as the assistant facilitator for Voices of Youth. With Claudia’s added leadership, our group of young leaders has taken even more initiative to engage in service projects and organize events for other youth and the community. Before I left, Claudia and her friend Brenda suggested to Julia Smith, the Center’s current Program Director, that they organize a theatre performance at a local orphanage. This kind of initiative is the goal of Voices of Youth, and I was happy to see Claudia’s energy contribute to more youth engagement in their community.
Since my first week on the job, I spent countless hours meeting with adult community leaders, politicians, government officials, and local community educators in Villa El Salvador. My goal was to understand the challenges and needs faced by community leaders. Through meetings held with grassroots leaders (called dirigentes), I received an insider perspective of the day-to-day struggle faced by these volunteer activists. It is important to emphasize the word “volunteer” because dirigentes are elected public servants who are tasked with leading local development initiatives but receive no compensation for what is essentially a full-time job.
In collaboration with veteran dirigentes, we developed plans for an adult leadership program. The workshop series, called Discover Leadership, is an 8-session course followed by a project design and implementation phase. Using popular education methodologies Discover Leadership takes a holistic approach to developing up-and-coming leaders, touching on character development, communication and organizing strategies, project planning and financing, and conflict resolution. For the pilot project (August-October 2012), Building Dignity collaborated with a local university to bring professional guest speakers to teach topics such as project planning and working within government bureaucracy. Currently, the course participants are designing their community projects and receiving ongoing technical assistance and financing from Building Dignity.
Spotlight: Betty Lozano Revollar
If there ever was an individual leader who exemplifies the goals of the leadership development program, it’s Betty Lozano. Before my arrival, Betty had been awarded funds from the Leadership Grant project to help finance the construction of a new roof on her neighborhood’s preschool. Over the course of the year, I met with Betty as well as local business and political leaders in Villa El Salvador to secure all of the financing required for the $4,000 project. It was a time consuming and challenging affair and gave me a perspective on all of the obstacles that cause many development projects to fail in under-resourced areas like La Encantada, even with the leadership of people like Betty.
After more than a year of hard work, and thanks to Building Dignity staff and Betty’s never-ceasing positive attitude, the roof was finished this October. Now, over 60 children ages 3-5 as well as hundreds of parents and community members have access to a safe, secure place to learn and gather.
Now as we reach the end of a full year of progress, we can reflect back and give a toast to leaders like Betty and Claudia who are filled with energy and a motivation to see their former shantytown rise up and move forward one step at a time.
From the staff and community of La Encantada, we thank you for your support of Building Dignity this year and here’s to a prosperous 2013!
(Program Director from Sept. 2011-Oct. 2012)
Dear friends of Building Dignity,
For many, the arrival of fall is a busy time, characterized by back-to-school preparations and a quickened pace of work. In Lima, the change in season marks a refreshed commitment to our mission, as we seek creative ways to fuel neighborhood-led development.
Amidst this flurry of activity, we would like to share with you the stories of a few courageous women, who are working to expand their skill set, broaden opportunities for their family, and contribute to the development of their community.
In May 2012, Building Dignity collaborated with the city government of Lima to launch a new program called “Mujer Emprende” (Enterprising Women), which enables women to generate income through the production and sale of artisanal crafts. Each week, women meet at the Center for Development with Dignity to learn the arts of sewing, weaving, knitting and more. The results—impeccably crafted jewelry, dolls and decorations—are then sold at artisan fairs throughout the city, allowing these women to support themselves and their families.
“Mujer Emprende” recognizes, however, that a woman’s well-being depends on much more than her income. Thus, workshop facilitators interweave artisanship with discussions of self-esteem, domestic violence, women’s rights, gender equality, preventative health, and leadership.
We invite you to meet some of the women of “Mujer Emprende” through their own words:
“Mujer Emprende” is another avenue by which Building Dignity seeks to fuel community-led development through empowerment and education. For us, it has been a pleasure to work closely with these women. On behalf of the 16 participants of “Mujer Emprende,” a heartfelt thank you for your support!
An article on Fox News Latino by Isa Adney.
Published: Friday, August 10, 2012
Dear friends of Building Dignity,
Greetings from Lomo de Corvina (Lima, Peru), where Building Dignity is working hard to address one of the area’s most pressing challenges: the lack of resources and support for students.
In January, Building Dignity welcomed Ana María Mejía Huisa to the team as our Program Coordinator. In six short months, Ana María has helped expand our Community Education program and deepen the impact we have on the lives of young people. The Center for Development with Dignity is now open three days a week for one-on-one and small group tutorials and homework help. As Program Coordinator, Ana María welcomes each student to the Center as they arrive. She reviews the assignments they bring from school and pairs them with a volunteer tutor who helps them study. Students pore over Building Dignity’s growing collection of encyclopedias and reference books and delight in the opportunity to conduct research on one of the Center’s laptops.
For Ana María, the goal of our tutoring program is broader than helping students complete their homework. The goal is also to cultivate good study skills and a love of learning. That’s why Ana María and Program Director Andrew Mueller invite students to stay at the Center after they’ve finished their homework to read a book or play board games that exercise math skills. Thanks to the energy of Building Dignity staff and volunteers, students often stay until the minute the Center must close for the evening! Approximately 50 students benefit from our tutoring program each week, and many of them attend on a regular basis.
Building Dignity extends a heartfelt thanks to John and Daniel and the other volunteers who have contributed to our Community Education initiatives. We also wish to thank our friends and donors, whose generous support sustains our tutoring program, community education classes, and in-school support for students. Finally, thanks to the members of Soulside Out for contributing to the photos used in this newsletter.
Every May 11th, Villa el Salvador celebrates its founding as a squatter community and eventually an official district of Lima. Villa el Salvador originated as a group of displaced families from the rural provinces of Peru attempted to invade a plot of private land in southern Lima in April of 1971 and then were relocated to the current site on May 11th, 1971 by the populist dictator Juan Velasco Alverado.
Below is a short video that explains the general history of Villa el Salvador up until it's 30th anniversary in 2001 (unfortunately there aren't any English subtitles but some of the images are striking).
Here is the original music video of Villa el Salvador's anthemic song which is about the improbable origins of a city built on nothing but sand but with the spirit of social justice, direct action, and self government.
Here at the Center for Development with Dignity, we had our very own celebration of Villa's anniversary (which also coincides with the anniversary of La Encantada's founding as a new barrio in 1996). It consisted of puppet shows, music, and some small theatre compositions that were presented by youth who participated in our youth leadership program, "Voces de la Juventud". It was an exciting night with lots of stories and sharing of experiences.
Below are some pictures so you can share in the celebration.
Neighborhood leader, Edita, recounts the initial founding of La Encantada
The below attached article is printed with permission of the Jack Kent Cooke Scholar Association.
Published: April 2012 edition of the Jack Kent Cooke Scholar Association's Newsletter
2012 is off to a good start for Building Dignity! With programming moving full speed ahead in Lima, we have begun to reach out to like-minded non-profit organizations, build new partnerships, and expand our impact. Upon completing her graduate degree in August 2011, Building Dignity Director Emily Hedin moved to San José, Costa Rica for a year with the goal of expanding her skill set and leadership abilities before returning to Lima, Peru to resume her full-time work at the Center. In San José, she is networking with successful nonprofits, learning from their experiences, and improving Building Dignity programming by implementing our curriculum in new communities. Since February 2012, Emily has partnered with the local "Boy with a Ball" Foundation (www.boywithaball.com) to organize youth leadership workshops for young women in the community of Triangulo de la Solidaridad.
With the help of the Boy with a Ball Foundation, which has worked in Triangulo de la Solidaridad since 2004, Building Dignity is implementing its Youth Leadership curriculum with a dynamic group of 15 young women. Each week, the girls gather in the Foundation’s community center for an afternoon of activities that cultivate teamwork, self-esteem, self-expression, and leadership.
We began in February with an engaging reflection on human rights in the area. The girls "measured the human rights temperature" of their community and identified where and how the protection of human rights could be improved. During the month of March, we celebrated women’s rights and the rich history of women leaders in Latin America and around the world. We also examined how women are portrayed in the media and discussed how we’d like to see that image changed. We are now focusing on service and leadership, as the girls work to design a community service project in Triangulo de la Solidaridad.
According to workshop participants, the project provides a space where they can "integrate, share, and learn new things." The workshops are "good, because it is something we can identify with as girls."
Back in Lima, leadership workshops continue to help young women find their voice and contribute to positive social change. Claudia, a member of the Lima-based “Voices of Youth” program writes:
I participate in leadership workshops at the Center for Development with Dignity, and there I feel strong and capable because [the Center] is connected to my community. Before, the neighbors were not so organized or concerned. Now, through meetings with young people and neighbors, the Center has made it possible for us to develop the will and desire to move forward as a community and as individuals. I believe that I have found a very special place for me and my community.
The young women of Triangulo de la Solidaridad and La Encantada have exchanged letters and souvenirs from their communities, offering one another encouragement and support on their journey. For us at Building Dignity, it is a privilege to watch their natural leadership grow.
Building Dignity would like to thank and acknowledge the University of Minnesota’s Center for Human Rights. The human rights curriculum “This is my Home” inspired several activities that we incorporate into our own work.
Happy New Year from the Center for Devleopment with Dignity! 2011 was a full year for the Center and we're about to hit the ground running in 2012. Here are a few highlights from my time here in the last few months of 2011:
1-8 of 8