Starting the MEJOR Communities Youth Group

Preparations for the youth group are finally underway! Earlier this week, Bernabé and I visited an organization called Prom Peru that deals with exports from Peru. At first, Bernabé and I thought about teaching weaving and exporting the products to the United States, but the cost of hiring a teacher, purchasing a weaving loom, and acquiring a business license is too expensive. Since funds are limited (I raised around $1200 for this project because I wanted to ensure that the businesses would be able to surpass their initial seed capital funding in sales), we decided to get input from the youth about what type of businesses they might be interested in starting (possibilities range from creating jewelry and small accessories to baking bread and raising guinea pigs!).

Bernabé has found a large room near my house with a whiteboard that I can use to teach business lessons to the teenagers.  Next Monday, I will hold an expo to market the youth group to students in Sano. We are in the process of creating and handing out flyers both for my project and for the new CASA program. In addition to teaching lessons on marketing, accounting, and financial literacy, I plan to include workshops on life skills (how to write a CV, how to apply for a job, etc.), games, sports, films, and activities to learn English. My greatest worry right now is the language barrier.  My Spanish is improving greatly through immersion, but there are still times when I struggle to find the right word or verb tense.

My first week in Peru was very relaxing, as I spent most of my time playing with kids and helping them with their homework. The festival this weekend was also a blast! I tried salsa dancing, ate delicious deep-fried dough that looked like onion rings (my taste buds were initially very confused), listened to music until around three in the morning, and perused stands selling beautiful Peruvian handicrafts. Last Sunday, Effie, the 24-year-old daughter of my host mother, took me and the other volunteers for a hike up to the top of one of the mountains that surrounds our house.

I anticipate a lot more outside work and stress when the youth group begins. Bernabé warned me during my first week that I would encounter more frustrations than the other volunteers who are more involved in childcare, painting, and construction. Although I recognize that I have a big learning curve ahead, I am ready to meet the challenges that arise!


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