Earlier this month, LAFF undertook a data collection exercise to understand the educational and career goals of our youth beneficiaries. With the permission of the directors of our partner organizations — the Sacred Valley Project, Casa Mantay, and Azul Wasi — LAFF staff interviewed all of their beneficiaries, a total of 39 youth ranging in age from 7 to 19 years old. The interview asked questions about their desire to finish secondary school, if they want to continue their studies in university or technical school, and their dream occupation. The youth were also asked about the support they would need ot be able to reach their goals.
The interviews revealed that almost all the youth wanted to complete secondary school and continue with their studies. Desired occupations ranged from mechanic to hotel administrator to chef to tour guide. One girl from Casa Mantay even wants to open her own bakery one day! Financial support is the most important assistance needed by the youth to achieve their goals. Additionally, nearly all mothers from Casa Mantay mentioned needing help taking care of their children while they studied or worked.
With the information collected through these surveys, LAFF plans to continue tailoring their activities to the needs and aspirations of their beneficiaries. Potential new projects will include holding a “career-day” for the youth with professionals from all the key occupations; partnering with local businesses in the Cusco-area to provide workshops and internships for the youth; and starting a shadowing program that links the youth to professionals so they can see what it is like to work in that occupation for a day.
The data collection exercise not only provided LAFF with rich information about the dreams of their target youth, but also allowed the LAFF staff in Cusco to get to know the kids a little better. During the interviews, the staff found common ground with the youth as they discussed their favorite subjects and hobbies, and commiserated with them about the difficulties of further studies. Creating a good rapport and trusting relationship with the youth will help LAFF to better understand their needs, and ultimately to better help them succeed in the future.