I had the opportunity to visit Expand Peru this past summer when I was traveling through Latin America. I decided to end my trip with one final journey to Huancayo to meet with Bernabe, the lead in the organization, and learn more about the CASA project. My boyfriend Dan and I went out to Huancayo via an overnight bus. Bernabe was a gracious host who let us stay at the Expand headquarters where volunteers are able to stay in a dorm / house with other volunteers if they are staying in Huancayo. We spent the morning exploring the large central market – trying pig’s feet jello and admiring the beautiful skirts that are full of bright colors and beading.
In the afternoon we were able to travel up to Pucara where the CASA program is located. The local teachers were on strike and the students were restless to learn. I was very impressed by the quality of the instruction by the main profesora and the students, all elementary school aged, were absolutely fantastic to work with. We spent the afternoon putting together puzzles, identifying leaves and drawing. The teacher had about 20 students in the classroom but at times the number can increase to 30 or more.
The CASA program provides students with a place to gather after school and complete their homework before traveling home. Pucara is a rural town a little over an hour outside of Huancayo and many of the families work in agriculture. The students, especially in elementary school, are given homework but have little support to complete the work due to their long trek home or parents who work long hours. The CASA program provides them with the support and instruction that they need to successfully complete elementary school and continue their education. The students are motivated and intelligent and really appreciate the help. Expand volunteers have the opportunity to work with CASA and these students and be a part of the development of these children – both helping to further their education and general skills in life.
A program like CASA makes an enormous difference in the life of a child and I am so lucky that I was able to meet the staff that make CASA happen and the children that use the resource. The program is run efficiently and effectively for very little money – a little over $100 pays the teacher’s salary for a whole month! My visit to Pucara and the CASA program has inspired me to become even more involved with Expand Peru and MEJOR Communities and I hope you chose to do the same as well.
We’re nearing the end of our GlobalGiving campaign and we still need your help! You – like the volunteers who work alongside these amazing students – have the ability to make a difference in their lives. Please consider making a contribution today. We have until the 31st to raise the remaining $2,945 to really help these children.
Director, Board of Trustees