After a long month of waiting to depart and a long air travel complete with lost tickets and unexpected stops, I finally arrived in Trujillo on Thursday. And moments after arriving in my new home, I sat down with Larry, the director of SKIP, and had a candid discussion about advocacy and what it means to advocate for SKIP and the children they support.
It’s not an easy topic for many reasons. There’s not even an equivalent translation in Spanish, and I’ve gotten used to explaining advocacy in Spanish with many words, at least as how we’ve defined it. Our vision for this advocacy project with SKIP involves treating quality education as a right for all of these children. Even though public education is provided, it’s often not free, as the children have to buy uniforms or specific supplies for the classroom in order to attend. Also, the education is not of a high quality, as the teachers often are not competent in their subject matter and are only in the profession for the steady salary.
SKIP has been an advocate for the education of Trujillo over the past few years and increasingly provided more support to them and their families. Now other groups in the area are expressing interest as well, including other educational organizations, religious groups, health groups, and the mayor’s office. In planning our advocacy project, we hope to organize this new group to help put pressure on and change the current education system.
In addition, SKIP will be evaluating whether it is better to open their own school as competition and an alternative for the public schools, or whether they should continue to work with these schools to change. It seems that all the volunteers and staff are excited about the advocacy project, and they are constantly full of new ideas to help these students obtain a better education.
On my way to the SKIP educational complex on my first day (offices, classrooms, and a recreational area), I was told more about El Porvenir, the area in where it is located and where the kids live. One of the volunteers said that earlier that morning, two taxis refused to take her to the area because the roads aren’t paved and not many people are waiting for taxis to return to the main city. And another volunteer said that earlier, she saw a stray dog with a human femur in its mouth from the graveyard. I began to feel a little nervous— not because I was worried for my safety, but just how hard it would be to understand these children’s lives and if they would care at all about an education. There was no need to worry, however— from the moment I arrived, I was greeted by smiling faces, kisses on the cheek, and questions about my name, age, family, favorite food, etc. When they realized I was from the US, they immediately started practicing their English with me and asking me how to say certain words.
One of the girls showed me her notebook, where she would ask different questions to members of her class, like “How many siblings do you have?” or “Have you ever kissed anyone?” One of them said, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” Everyone named a profession—doctor, lawyer, professor, and working in business, to name a few. Even though I came here because of my belief in the right of education for all, it became clear to me just how important it is that the education system works for these students to help them attain their goals. And even their dreams change, their education will help them to continue to be content, curious, and knowledgeable of their options and the world around them.
Posted By Sara Zampierin
Posted Jun 23rd, 2007