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Bringing in the New Year with Dignity

posted Jan 6, 2012, 1:21 PM by Andrew Mueller   [ updated Jan 27, 2013, 8:49 AM by Henrik Mitsch ]
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:

  • Graduating a group of 8 young women (2 not pictured, below) who participated in the first level of our Leadership Academy for young girls. It was a great learning experience for me as well as some of our other volunteers who were able to work with these fine young women as they grew from week to week. During our "clausura" or final, closing meeting, each participant gave a short presentation about what they had learned throughout the workshop. A few parents were able to attend as well and learn about human rights and women's rights as well as the results from a human rights survey in our neighborhood of La Encantada.
    Leadership School Level I Graduation
    (Future leaders of Villa El Salvador from left to right: Eva, Lucero, Shirley, Janella, Claudia, and Rosa)
  • Bringing access to technology to Lomo de Corvina was a major accomplishment this November and December as we successfully trained 12 dirigentes through a partnership with ISMEM (see earlier blog post) who now are able to confidently use computers for the first time. We have also received numerous laptop donations that have brought our total number of computers at the Center to 7 with more on the way. This January and February we will be offering two computer classes (one for adults and one for youth) each week so we can build on the progress we made in the fall.
    (Dirigentes as well as the teachers and directors of ISMEM after their graduation and certificate presentation)
  • The Center for Development with Dignity's Community Kitchen was put to good use after its construction in mid-2011, specifically during the first baking classes taught in November and December. We had 5 classes that taught youth how to make delicious desserts from alfajores to apple pie. The kitchen was also used to prepare meals and refreshments for community meetings and events such as our 2 community movie showings. This coming January and February, we have a very enthusiastic volunteer named Juana who plans on teaching a 10-class baking course for adults in the community (I'm guessing it will be very popular!).
(Alfajores were a hit)  (Learning how to make a lattice top apple pie)

  • Chocolatadas 2011 were very successful. We had three chocolatadas in three different communities: La Encantada, Oasis, and Santísimo Salvador. For those who are unfamiliar with the chocolatadas celebration, it consists of a community party with hot chocolate, panetón (a Christmas sweet bread), and toys for children. Building Dignity this year partnered with another NGO called Carta a la Tierra who donated 2,000 personal panetoncitos that were handed out at all three events. For a few weeks, my room was also home to about 300 different toys that were donated as well. I felt like Papa Noél! For each chocolatada, we coordinated with local neighborhood leaders who organized their community so that the events went off without a hitch. Neighborhood leaders from each community's vaso de leche and comedor (two government funded programs that provide free or low cost milk and meals for the poorest residents) helped prepare the hot chocolate and more volunteers helped hand out panetón and toys.
    (Jean Pierre about to help unload a Mototaxi full to the       (Children from Oasis enjoying some Panetón and hot chocolate)
    brim with of sugar, milk, and chocolate)                      

             (Presidents of the Comedor, Rosa and Edita prepare the hot chocolate)

(Playing games with the residents of La Encantada as a preamble to the Chocolatada Fiesta)