Daniel Salazar, Global Volunteers Peru Country Manager describes our exceptional service program helping children on the outskirts of Lima. For more than 30 years in the district of Ventanilla, Sagrada Familia has functioned as a small village for displaced kids. Besides the facilities one would expect to see at a children’s home (dormitories, dining halls, sports courts, etc.), it has a school (Preschool, Kindergarten, Elementary School, High School), a trade school (bakery, carpentry, music and sewing), production centers, and a health clinic. Read on about how you can support this true model community helping children in Peru.
Come to Lima and be inspired! Come and make a real difference! Come contribute to a true model of compassionate leadership and effective community action in my country. “The Community” is Comunidad de Niños Sagrada Familia, an institution sheltering 1,200 children, from 1 month to 17 years, who come from especially difficult circumstances. The Community shelters children at risk, and gives them a solid education and Christian formation in values that allow them to live in this society as virtuous citizens who contribute to the community and help others. Children are brought by judicial order, by the police, by the municipality’s child protective services, and by families who can attest to the urgent need of the children.
Over the years, the children who have been served are now successfully inserted into society. Most of them still support The Community in any way they can, which shows how thankful they are for the good care they received. In fact, one of the most surprising things when one first arrives is seeing so many children coming and saying hi to “Profesor Miguel” with great affection, and him calling each of them by name and giving back the same warmth.
“At the end of the 1980s, the youngest of my children, Juan Miguel, arrived in the world with a heart problem that brought him closer to Jesus very early, at six months. He left us a mark and his presence alive among us, his smile and desire to live loving others.”– Miguel Rodriguez, founder and director of Comunidad de Niños Sagrada Familia
On-Site Profit Centers Fund Community Services to Help Children in Peru
The teenagers who study at the trade school work at the production centers in the fields they’ve learned. These production centers then sell their products, and the income is used to fund The Community. For instance, the bakery produces some of the pastries that the KFC restaurants sell. The Community’s health clinic “Madre Coraje” (mother courage) is open to the public, and has specialists in obstetrics, dentistry, psychology, pharmacy, as well as general medicine. This clinic has its own two-story building with about 12 different rooms.
They also have a house for social reintegration, for minors who grow up over time and must join society, in better conditions. In this house there are about 15 teenagers 17 to 19 years old who continue with their studies and/or work outside the community.
Besides the income from the profit centers, Sagrada Familia survives on the in-kind donations from various companies who want to help the children. For instance, they receive vegetables from a supermarket. Some stores donate sports uniforms. Other surplus building and construction materials are occasionally donated.
Since Global Volunteers’ partnership with Sagrada Familia began in 2018, volunteer have been very generous with their time and treasure. In 2019, the Community started construction on a new kitchen from the generous donations of a volunteering family. Other donations have helped buy materials to construct a preschool classroom building.
Volunteer-Centered Projects Supply Needed Skills and Energy
Of course, painting, carpentry, plumbing, electrical and general building maintenance and repair is always needed. The Peruvian weather takes its toll on our buildings, and so there is so much to be done all year around. No special skills are needed to help out in this way. If you have skills in baking, carpentry, music, and sewing, you can contribute to instruction at the trade school and production centers.
Medical professionals have been very helpful at the clinic, caring for the children of the community and people from the surrounding shanty towns. The clinic employs three doctors, one dentist, one nurse, a pharmacist and nursing technicians. If you have expertise in internal medicine, nursing, pediatrics, obstetrics and gynecology, ophthalmology, radiology, dentistry or lab technology, you’re greatly needed to help out the staff, and perhaps perform services that aren’t readily available. Practicing or retired professionals as well as students can assist in this way.
Regardless of your background, you can help children here in many ways. English is the language of commerce, technology and opportunity around the world. In Peru, it can be a passport out of poverty. Through daily lessons and English conversations, native speakers of English are valuable classroom resources. While the students are taught English at school, it’s only at a very basic level. You’re needed to teach English for all skill levels and grades. You can work one-on-one with children from kindergarten through high school; primarily through reading, writing and recitation, to encourage their interest and proficiency in basic English. Using your own creativity, you can help older students anchor their independence through conversational English practice and lesson reviews.
Practice is the key to making a difference. The students are very receptive, and enjoy practicing English through stimulating conversation, music, skits, games and special assignments. Teachers at Sagrada Familia have learned English as a second language, and are eager to learn from and practice with volunteers along with their students. They’re models for the benefit of learning English at an early age for success later in life. For instance, one English teacher credits her study of English with transforming her life.
Volunteer teams are led by Global Volunteers Country Manager Daniel Salazar, who is experienced in volunteer management, lives in the larger Lima area, and sustains year-round relationships with all community partners. There is no better way to experience the heart and soul of Peru than a service program with Global Volunteers at Sagrada Familia. Contact us today to get started: 651-500-2016.