Latin American Foundation for the Future


How we started

LAFF was set up in 2007 after founder Sarah Oakes spent three years working in Peru with children’s homes and social projects.

Recognising the harsh reality of life on the street for vulnerable children, and the difficulties faced by organisations supporting these children, Sarah established LAFF initially as a funding charity to support children and homes in Peru.

Latin American Foundation for the Future became a UK registered charity in August 2008, with UK charity number 1125872.

The Journey so far

LAFF was initially established with the aim of raising funds in the UK to support local children’s organisations in Peru. Although our fundraising efforts raised tens of thousands for our overseas projects, we soon realised that money alone was not enough. Our partner projects were being held back not just by funds, but also by skills and experience in financial management, fundraising, business planning, income generation, and strategic planning. The children we helped had shelter and safety, but homes were limited in their ability to provide access to education and vocational training initiatives to give the children at the homes the best possible chance in the future.

To change this, in 2010 we moved from a 100% volunteer-led team, to having our first paid ‘man on the ground’. We now have an International Projects Manager, providing tailored capacity building, technical support and training to our partners wherever it is needed, as well as delivering our projects and providing detailed reports on their success. Because of this we’re able to work more closely with partners, better understand their needs and those of the children they support as well as keep up with policy and issues affecting our partners. In short, we are better placed to have the biggest impact we can.

Key achievements

Since 2007, we have supported children’s organisations in Peru through meeting the most urgent needs identified by the homes.

This started small initially, focusing on infrastructure (including a water tower, wash sinks, soup kitchen equipment, a guinea pig enclosure complete with guinea pigs, a minibus, computers and hardware, library books, stationary and hygiene products, bedding, infrastructure improvements, uniforms, sports equipment, emergency support during a flood) but our support has been able to expand and become more programmatic now with recent assistance focusing on supporting educational and vocational training costs (greenhouse training, a bread oven, wages for a home’s guardian, bread-making lessons), capacity-building technical support (business plan development, transparent accounting skills) and income generation support (providing a trade show re-useable stand for promoting income-generating products, providing new equipment, and selling income-generation products in the UK) .

Over the years, our experience has led us towards providing one-off project support for Education and Sustainability projects as opposed to meeting ongoing overheads. This allows us to focus on helping homes and children towards independence, rather than creating a dependence on our support. Our focus on education and vocational training gives the best chance to the children and young people we help. Equally supporting sustainability, through capacity-building at homes and providing grants for income-generation and cost-reduction projects, means the homes can work towards a stronger, more independent future.

In 2010 we were awarded support from The Vodafone Foundation through their World of Difference UK Programme and International Programme, which enabled LAFF to strengthen their UK work in Development Education and further develop our approach to helping children’s homes in Peru become self-sufficient and sustainable by having a member of staff on the ground, providing face-to-face capacity building support enabling us to really meet our partners’ needs and have even more impact where it is needed.