I am having an absolute blast with the girls (and one guy). After a week of heavy marketing and recruiting, I finally have a smaller group of around 10-12 students who are very enthusiastic, committed, and hardworking. My role has transitioned from teaching to facilitating discussions, as many of the girls have taken on a leadership role and begun introducing their own activities. They have decided to open a bakery called “Leah and Friends” and the grand opening will take place within the next two weeks!
I meet with the girls for around 2-3 hours each day to provide basic English instruction, play games, create arts and crafts, and work on the business. So far, we have written a comprehensive business plan, created a budget with the prices of ingredients and cooking utensils, and prepared preliminary drafts of our posters. This past Sunday, I accompanied a team to Huancayo to purchase materials. With the money I received from the Jessica Jennifer Cohen Foundation and Wharton Social Impact Initiative, I am issuing a small no-interest, no-collateral loan to provide startup capital for their bakery.
Bernabe is currently looking for a teacher to provide culinary instruction. We hope to begin trying out bread recipes next Monday, so that we are able to troubleshoot, hang up flyers, and decorate our kiosk before the launch party. Effie, the daughter of my host mother and an aspiring photographer, has volunteered to take professional photographs for our first flyers.
On Thursday or Friday, I am scheduled to start a new volunteer project at the SOS Children’s Village in Huancayo, a home for orphaned kids and teens. Some of the older girls are trying to sell their handicrafts. I will help them use the Internet and social media to access new markets both locally and internationally. Although I have enjoyed playing with the children at the Casa de Bebes in the morning, I look forward to further using my business background to contribute to the leadership development of Peruvian youth.
It is a lot of work to prepare lesson plans every day (I have newfound appreciation for my teachers and professors), but I still have plenty of time to relax and learn about Peru. Last weekend, we took a hike up the mountain to explore some ancient ruins, and a week ago Tuesday, we experienced pachumetca. Pachumetca is a traditional Peruvian way of cooking vegetables, potatoes, and meat piled on top of each other over hot rocks, sticks, and leaves. The food was so incredibly tender and flavorful!
It is unbelievably rewarding to watch the venture I have been planning for the past ten months come to fruition. I cannot wait to sample my students’ baked goods and graduate the first cohort of youth entrepreneurs in Sano.
With some of my students: