Since the summer of 2022, the families enrolled in the Reaching Children’s Potential (RCP) Program in Ventanilla, Peru have been working hard to improve their children’s health and well-being. In the hillside communities surrounding the campus of Global Volunteers’ partner organization, Sagrada Familia, households often lack access to basic necessities including running water, electricity, and fuel for cooking. Many families strain to afford medicine and food for their children. Although these day-to-day struggles are challenging, mothers in Peru, like women everywhere, want what is best for their children.
RCP mothers have been eager to devote extra time to their children’s nutritional and developmental needs, to learn methods to improve their children’s health, and to apply the new knowledge in their homes. Global Volunteers’ RCP Caregiver Bea Rodriguez has been particularly impressed with the RCP moms. She said, “I have seen the progress of each of the moms and how their babies have grown. Some moms were a little afraid at the beginning because it is something new for them, but now they have formed a group of moms who share their ideas, examples, and tips with other new moms, and so they have gotten to know each other a little better. I think the RCP Program has allowed the moms to be heard, since many of them stay alone with the baby and don’t talk about what they feel, think, and experience.”
“I have seen the progress of each of the moms and how their babies have grown.”Bea Rodriguez, Peru RCP Caregiver
Nearly 30 women are currently participating in the RCP Program. During home visits, caregivers meet with mothers to provide psychosocial support, discuss their families’ health and nutrition, and review topics introduced in monthly workshops. Recent workshop topics have included child development, safety and infant care, CPR, nutrition during pregnancy, breastfeeding, handwashing with soap, and preventing disease. Jorge Prieto, Global Volunteers’ RCP Technology Manager, has also constructed five handwashing stations that will be installed in homes in the coming weeks.
RCP mom, Lisa Horna described her experience; “The program for me has been very helpful and very important. I learned a lot with the workshops, home visits and from the volunteers who have come to my house, such as how to give first aid to a baby in times of choking, what I should feed my baby, and I also learned the importance of hand washing. I am very grateful to the RCP Program because they listen to me in their workshops, and because I like that they visit me to teach me new things or to meet [my baby].” Fellow RCP mother Jessica Capristano echoed this sentiment. “I have learned a lot of little things like how to help when my baby is latching on and how to feed her. I hope there will continue to be workshops to continue learning many more things.”
Bea also highlighted the impact workshops have already had. “Many of the moms have older children…when I ask them if they remember how to wash their hands, what to do in case of choking, what foods are important for growth, etc., both the moms and their older children respond. So even though the older children do not attend the workshops, the mom teaches them what she learned in the workshops. That’s awesome!!”
“The program for me has been very helpful and very important.”Lisa Horna, Peru RCP mom
Due to the enthusiastic participation of the first RCP cohort and the ongoing need in the community, in April 2023 the RCP Program will welcome 30 new mothers and babies to the program, bringing the total number of RCP families to 60. Global Volunteers has also hired a new caregiver, Yanira Leon, who will provide support to newly enrolled mothers.
Following political protests in January and early February of 2023, the situation in Peru has improved dramatically. The popular tourist destination Machu Picchu has been reopened since mid-February.
Ventanilla is nearly a 2-hour drive from downtown Lima where protests were held and nearly 1,000 km/or 600 miles from the epicenter of protests, in the southern cities of Puno and Arequipa. Ventanilla has not had any protests or political violence. With the expansion of the program, RCP families and the community of Sagrada Familia in Ventanilla are in critical need of volunteers to assist with program activities. Volunteers provide invaluable support by presenting workshops and providing psychosocial support to moms during home visits as they work hard to change behaviors. RCP mother Elizabeth Aro described how she misses the volunteers during home visits saying, “It’s been a while since the volunteers came and they are missed, they know some things that I think we still don’t know here in Peru.”
“It’s been a while since the volunteers came and they are missed, they know some things that I think we still don’t know here in Peru.”Elizabeth Aro, Peru RCP mom