It is so hard to sum up the experience I’ve had over the past three months. When people ask me that question of, “So how was Peru?” it’s hard to sum it up in the few, lighthearted sentences that I know people want to hear.
It’s incredible how one day can be full of so many emotions… one second you’re having a great conversation with a mother about giving her child a scholarship to study English, and the next we meet their neighbor, a little girl who tells us she hasn’t been able to go to school for 5 years since her parents left her without the correct legal papers. I was constantly frustrated– frustrated with the government for not providing more money to the schools and making it impossible for some children to study, with the teachers for the strike and for constantly asking for money from the parents, and with the people who did not seem to care or want to do anything about the right of education being denied in Peru.
People always surprise you. Some of the people I expected to be really passionate about the right of education being denied to these impoverished children claimed they could do nothing about it. And some who I expected to care less were willing to do whatever they could to help the kids out—such as the head of the municipal theater that gave us free tickets for every secondary school student so that they could learn more about culture through Mexican and Peruvian dances. It was so great to see their faces and hear them talking about their favorite dances and costumes, and just to take them on a little outing, since this was the first time some of them had even made the 10 minute trip to downtown Trujillo.
I learned that it’s so much easier to advocate when you really get to know the people. By knowing them, I mean not only seeing their living situations or hearing a little about their lives, but really understanding where they’re coming from and developing a relationship with them. Once I started developing relationships with the families and talking to them more often, I felt I not only better understood the problem with education, but our relationships also gave their stories and my work even more meaning and helped me involve them and explain my work more. In this way, I think that SKIP can be very successful in advocacy attempts in the future, because the volunteers really get a chance to know the families intimately and everyone is always ready with helping hands and new ideas. SKIP is starting to work with other local NGOs to collaborate on projects, so hopefully in the future they can tackle education advocacy efforts together.
Meeting with the NGOs of Alto Trujillo (the area where SKIP works)
I’m truly going to miss all the amazing families, SKIP staff and volunteers, and the other NGOs I got to know during my time in Peru. And after an experience that I gained so much out of, it’s the least I can do to continue to advocate on their behalf and fight for their right to a free education for everyone.
Posted By Sara Zampierin
Posted Oct 5th, 2007