At the end of July, LAFF was awarded a grant which has enabled us to start working with two new local partners in Arequipa. This is incredibly exciting for us as it means that we have been able to expand our reach geographically as well as adding two new children’s organisations to our portfolio and increase the number of children we are able to support as an organisation.
Now, to introduce you to the projects. The first is a centre called Hogar de Cristo which has been running for 12 years and provides educational support, meals and vocational training for 60 children from seven to seventeen years of age. La Niña María, Hogar de Cristo’s sister project, has been running for two years to provide a home, educational support and vocational training to 14 girls from seven to seventeen years of age who are at risk of entering into child prostitution through being on the streets. Along with providing basic needs such as food and clothing, both projects provide these children with the opportunity to re-enter into formal education, access psychological support and the opportunity to learn vocational skills which will help these children to enter the workplace once they reach adulthood. This is done without creating an artificial bubble for them or total dependence on the institution – the children at Hogar de Cristo still live at home with their families but the centre enables them to be safe and off the streets, making the most of their education while their parents who are very poor can continue to work knowing that they will have a better future; the girls at La Niña María live there from Monday to Friday and at the weekends either go home to their families or to assigned carers so that they are able to continue to have a family bond.
LAFF is supporting Hogar de Cristo and La Niña María to expand the vocational training workshop opportunities that they provide to the children in their care. The workshops will run for six months and with planning and capacity-building the aim is that these workshops will be self-sufficient by the end of that time so they can continue without being a burden to the centres.
At the beginning of October I spent a few days with Hogar de Cristo and La Niña María to get to know them better and to plan the implementation of the project. Some really interesting things came out of the in-depth planning stages of this project throwing up some key questions for how we were going to carry it out:
The focus – Hogar de Cristo were (rightly) adamant that the focus should be on the education and learning of the children involved and not so much on the production of products to sell. After all, these children are at the shelter to protect them from child labour. This prompted some interesting discussions about how to ensure that the workshops would be ongoing and sustainable and not just a one-off effort. We decided to split the process into three key stages:
- Experimentation, learning and play
- Learning more widely around product design, marketing and sales (aimed at the elder children)
- Perfection of products with interested, talented children to ensure sustainability of workshops to enable future groups of children to learn.
So, if this is to be a predominantly educational and skills-building exercise, how can we develop that element even more and enhance the learning beyond the skills obviously delivered through the workshops themselves? This is how the idea of design, marketing and sales workshops came about: to encourage the older children to think about the actual design of the items, markets, promotion and sales tactics. This would not only be useful for this particular exercise but also for their own personal development and self-reliance once they left Hogar de Cristo.
For me the workshops idea is incredibly exciting as it will form a package that could be rolled out at LAFF’s partners all over Peru and eventually beyond.