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University Students Lend a Hand
Giving back to where they started
As you know, Spring is the start of the academic year in Peru. This March, 230 children registered for school thanks to our dedicated coordinators, while an additional 20 students have enrolled in a post-secondary program! This brings our total number of university students to 58! The One School for All family is growing up and they’re lucky to be followed by sponsors who have committed to every stage of their academic progress, as they move from high school into their desired fields and careers.
Some older university students have distinguished themselves this year by assisting Marie-Colette in running the Hub’s afterschool programs for the elementary classes, giving back to where they started. Meet Sagman, Alexander, Vargas and Ramirez!
Sagman William is currently completing his studies in psychology at the Universidad Nacional de Ucayali (UNC). He teaches at the Hub’s Comedor every Tuesday.
From the same university, Alexander López Alvan is in the final stages of his degree in accounting. He loves to help the children of the Comedor in math!
For their part, Vargas Juanchi Mabel and Ramirez Robledo Nicolle work with the younger children in the Mango program. These young women, too, have nearly completed their degrees in accounting from UNC and bring much-appreciated tips and tricks to the children’s math homework.
The presence of these young adults in the children’s lives provides more than just academic assistance. It gives them role models to interact with and encouragement from individuals who started exactly where they did. Sagman, Alexander, Vargas and Ramirez remind the children that an academic journey might seem daunting and neverending, but it can be pursued with curiosity, dedication and joy. Success is at these children’s fingertips!
Children at the Forefront
In early May, the children learned the importance of protecting Mother Earth. Guided by the Hub’s educators and university students, Vargas and Ramirez, the children participated in a week of presentations and activities centred on eco-consciousness. They even had special “Earth Keeper Polos” sewed for them by the seamstresses of the Arte de las Manos co-op!
Their week of workshops ended with an outing in downtown Pucallpa where they connected with children from other schools who have committed to the same mission. For many of them, this was their first time on a bus for a real school outing! It was, without doubt, a week they’ll remember forever! Even though Los Jardines is not very far from the city centre, many of the children had never been downtown before.
A New Home for Amelia
The 38th CAST house shelters a family of 9
On June 10th, the Amazonian sun set on Amelia’s new home: the foundation’s first house to be built since the pandemic considerably delayed our CAST operations. Amelia is a mother of 9 children, 7 of whom still live at home with her and who will now benefit from solid floors, a protective roof, and freshly painted walls to decorate as they please.
We’re incredibly proud to be able to provide Amelia with a new home, given her family’s sustained engagement in the Hub’s activities. Amelia’s eldest daughter is Maria, who up until very recently operated the Hub’s pharmacy and clinic! (See segment on our new nurse below)
Amelia’s husband, Raúl, is one of the foremen in our CAST construction team. In addition to building other families’ homes in the community, he’s now been able to partake in the construction of his own home. To have built the roof over his family’s head with his own hands has been a true highlight of his year.
The Hub’s New Full-Time Nurse
In February 2022, the Hub’s nurse, Maria (whose family the latest CAST house was built for) began a new chapter in her life. Recently married and pregnant with her first child, she moved to a different sector of Pucallpa. Having been the Hub’s dedicated nurse since 2020, Marie-Colette felt it would be a challenge to find a replacement who could live up to Maria’s care and attention.
“But thanks to God, there is always someone who is sent to us,” said Marie-Colette on a call last week, recounting how she found Jessica. While other prospective replacements did not wish to travel daily to Los Jardines through the mud and the slums, Jessica stepped up to the task and this new beginning of her own. “It’s hard for many people to envision and to adapt to the reality of working in a slum, of working in Manatay,” said Marie Colette. But not for Jessica.
She now comes to the Hub’s pharmacy and clinic 6 days a week, a 30-minute motorcar trip each way. But she’s expressed to Marie-Colette that it’s entirely worth it, as she feels more and more immersed in her role every day.
Weekly, Jessica is led through the community by Jerley, Marie-Colette’s assistant, to get to know the families and what they need. On these house visits, Jessica informs the community of what she can provide for them at the Hub’s pharmacy and encourages them to stop by with any of their needs and concerns.
Learning from field experts
In early June, the sewing centre had the pleasure of hosting professional seamstresses who work in the fashion sector to teach the women enrolled in our program.
“The impact of these presentations goes beyond teaching,” said Marie-Colette. “It awakens and fuels the women’s passion and motivation to learn.”
The presentation focused on the skills required to make quality clothing and on how to choose sustainable and eco-responsible fabrics. The seamstresses informed the women that Tocuyo, Peruvian cotton known for its durability, sustainability and breathability, is one of their go-to fabrics. A traditional Inca cotton, it is now appreciated around the world today.
These professional seamstresses expressed to Marie-Colette how impressed they were with the Hub’s centre and what the women enrolled in our program are accomplishing! We are tremendously proud of them too.
Mother’s day was a heartwarming day at the Hub this year. At lunch, all the Hub’s programs gathered under one roof: the children from the daycare, Mango program, and the Comedor, together with the women from the sewing program and the Arte de las Manos co-op. The children had made cards for their moms in the morning, so the lunch hour was filled with them sharing their hand-crafted wishes! The day ended with a mother’s day sale of polos created by the women in the sewing program, during which the community gets to witness their progress and achievements!
Daycare, Mango Program and Comedor running at full capacity!
Last April, we launched the foundation’s newest initiative, the Mango program, in memory of our dear friend Roberta Yeldon. This year, the program is running at full capacity with 22 children between grades 1 and 2 now benefiting from guidance and assistance with their class materials and homework. The Mango program filled an important care gap, given that its twin program, the Comedor, assists children in grades 3 and higher.
While the Mango program is the Hub’s newest addition, the Comedor is the Hub’s inaugural program. Over the years it has become so well established in the community that its infrastructure now doubles as a gathering point for meetings and health clinics, a dining room and a celebration hall. But every week, after school hours, the Comedor serves its original purpose of guiding and supporting students. It is so appreciated by children and parents alike that there is currently a waiting list to sign up for the program!
The importance of these programs in the children’s lives has been perhaps most evident this year, as Marie-Colette has noticed a drop in reading and writing capabilities in some children compared to previous years. She explained that two years of remote learning affected every child differently. While the children who are sponsored through our One School for All program benefited from cell phones that permitted them to follow classes online, not all the children in the Comedor and Mango programs are sponsored by the foundation. For some of these children, following classes remotely was either not possible or impractical, which created a regrettable lag in their education. Marie-Colette is dedicated to helping them catch up and has extended the Mango and Comedor’s program’s hours to benefit those most in need. So far, the children are keen to do so, arriving at the Hub earlier than usual to partake in a reading group with Marie-Colette.
Flourishing in parallel to the Mango and Comedor programs is the Lightkeeper daycare, also running at full capacity. Adriel, who lost his mother two years ago, is the daycare’s little star, having stolen his audience’s heart. The others – equally cherished and adored – are the 11 children of mothers enrolled in our sewing programs. We give our deepest thanks to the daycare’s educators who have made the joy and comfort of these children their top priority.