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In June 2013 I began a Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA)-funded internship coordinated by the Atlantic Council for International Cooperation (ACIC).
Part A: After a week of intercultural training through the Canadian Foreign Service Institute in beautiful Tatamagouche, NS, I began working for the Non-Governmental Organization (NGO) Chalice Canada for five weeks.
Part B: involved heading to work with one of Chalice’s partner NGOs, Centro Esperanza, in Chiclayo, Peru. I arrived in mid-July and stayed until early January 2014, after an incredible experience of working alongside Peruvian women who run Project Chiclayo, a program for children, youth and their families, generously supported by Canadian donors.
Part C: I worked for 6 weeks back in the Chalice office helping out wherever possible and sharing my experiences in Chiclayo with the other intern who had been with me in Chiclayo.
Below are (most of) the amazing young women who did internships through the ACIC in Honduras, Costa Rica, Peru, Bolivia, Ghana and Tanzania. This photo was taken on Day 5 of the internship, the last day of our ‘intercultural’ training session. It felt like we had known each other for far longer!___________________________________________________________________________________
Peru Part Two :
While international development is very far from perfect (and probably too often harmful in ways not known until they can be analyzed in hindsight), what I had experienced was something real and something worth continuing. I was overjoyed to return (on a more independent basis) to work at Centro Esperanza and arrived in the first week of June 2014, staying until late March 2015,
-designing and (co-) facilitating classes and homework help session for children and youth (English, literacy, art, self-esteem, values, leadership, tree-planting/the environment).
-helping develop and facilitate training sessions about pedagogical practices (literacy and art).
-launching a rotating library called ‘La Cometa Lectora‘ (or ‘The Reading Kite’) to improve literacy levels in children, youth and their families (see https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iRJgEMQ7-TE for the English-language video, and https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QjWiWEedgfI for the Spanish one)
-translating documents and doing live-translation (my respect for all live interpreters everywhere!)
-laying the web work for a real website for Centro Esperanza (centroesperanzachiclayo.org)
Centro Esperanza promotes holistic childhood and family development. They seek to strengthen organizational and leadership skills in order equip people with the skills and values they need to achieve a dignified life. Centro Esperanza offers programming to people living in poverty in and around the city of Chiclayo; the NGO supports equal opportunities for all people and promotes a life free of violence.
Centro Esperanza offers Project Chiclayo to build people’s capacities so that they become agents of change in their personal, family and community lives; inspired by Christian values and ethics, the NGO is secular/laic and opens its programs to anyone. The Project’s objective is to become an example of inter-institutional networking and coordination in the Province of Lambayeque.
The NGO is making a big difference in the lives of its valued participants. When individuals and their families feel empowered and capable of bringing about change in their own lives, magic really does happen, thought not without challenges and hick-ups and frustratingly time-consuming roadblocks. While this grassroots-level development can be classified as international development, the real secret to Centro Esperanza’s success is the giving and sharing of love, trust, respect, patience and dignity by a staff of Peruvian-born women and men, from ages 16 to nearly 70. I am forever grateful for the time they allowed me to be part of their professional and personal family lives.