Inspired Words

These are the experiences of our volunteers in Peru.

Huancayo, Peru: August 2010 – The Project

Posted in Peru on August 19, 2010

On our first day in Huancayo, we took two taxis to go see the job site. We weren't able to work yet because we all needed a day to acclimatize. We rode through city center and out into the outskirts where the road turned to dirt and rocks, with fewer and fewer buildings. The job site is in a farming community, where the houses are few and each have a plot of land, and is not very developed. Pigs, sheep, cows, goats, roosters, chickens and plenty of stray dogs.

All of the properties are gated and locked. High dirt walls with rocks along the top and broken glass bottles on top of that (to keep people from jumping over). Inside there are three buildings, a school, the administration building and the home of the woman who watches after the place. The school is beautiful. Unfinished it stands, painted blue with windows and steel doors. Two levels and six class rooms. Let me tell you a bit about the project and in-country partner.

The JM Arguedianos training center is an institution that has been dedicated since 1984, working for the children's rights of Junin and Hauncavelica. Some years ago, the government institutionalized two programs for trying to protect children, one of these programs is Demunas (local place to defend children's rights) and the other one is Municipios Escolares (municiple leaders who try to defend children's rights inside the school). The first of this program is applied in districts and provinces of Junin and the second one is applied in all the elementary and high schools, both are being converted in public politics of Peru.

The project, a productive school for working children and teenagers, is intended to address the problem of the high percentage (40%) of children and teenagers who are excluded from the educational systems due to economic and cultural factors, and gender discrimination.

Data presented by the ministry of education indicates that of the entire student population, up to age 16, in our country, 34% live in big cities like Huancayo. Of these, 60% are the migrants from the rural communities surrounding Huancayo and other regions. These students arrived in this area due to political chaos, with their parents being unable to find work. This in turn has forced all the family members to work as street sellers (newspaper, candy, market sellers, house cleaners, etc.).

Many on the working children and working teenagers do not finish their studies. Educational institutions with flexible class schedules do not exist in Huancayo. The majority of these kids/teenagers work during the morning to early afternoon, making it impossible for them to attend classes. As well, the subjects taught at school are unrelated to their jobs, which causes them to lose interest in classes. The cost of education makes it unaffordable.

The project intends to cover the majority of working children population for which we have arranged for the school to be flexible regarding class schedules. The students may come to class after work and in some cases, classes will be held on Saturday and Sunday to accommodate them. The curriculum is not based on the official studies program only, but also on courses to reinforce work. These course will be focused on topics which the students do not feel strong at.

We do not want to change their work activities because they already have been at them for a long time and have developed the necessary skills to perform these jobs. What the school will provide is the training that allows students to perform their jobs more efficiently and with the opportunity for increased income. The overall aim is to promote the needs of working children/teenagers of Huancayo for access to basic education. This would allow the rights to equality, identity and education without exclusion.

I am so pleased to be a part of this project. Due to a lack of funds and support, the school has been an ongoing project for the last three years. The students are still unable to use the school. It was an extremely overwhelming feeling walking onto the property, it's sort of hard to describe. I understand and can feel the passion that has gone into building this school for the working children of Huancayo, and it's hard to accept the fact that we will not see the completion of it before we leave. And will not know for how much longer the project will go on for before it is finished. Tomorrow, we will go back and start work on the school.

Amber Lee
DWC participant

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