Peru, Spring 2011
Through The Forgotten International’s Fellowship Program, I volunteered for two months at a shelter and school for women and children called Mama Victoria in Lima, Peru. The school and shelter is located in a district of Lima called Chorrillos, which has the highest rate of domestic abuse in the city. The organization, Mama Victoria, provides a safe environment for women escaping domestic violence and gives refuge to their children as well. The shelter was started by a local woman and is maintained by local volunteers. I was their first foreign volunteer, and they welcomed me with open arms. I helped create a website for the organization and also taught English to the children who came to the shelter for after school care and guidance.
Mama Victoria’s founder, Nelly Villegas, is an amazing woman with a big heart and a dream to create healthy relationships within her community. Everyone went to great lengths to make me feel comfortable, and I was able to learn so much from these women because they felt Mama Victoria was a safe place to talk about the problems and struggles they faced everyday. Mama Victoria’s mission is to make their community better by giving women and children a safe place to live, work and grow. For two months, I taught English four days a week to 25 kids ranging in age from 4 to 12 and coming from all different backgrounds. It was the first time Mama Victoria had an English teacher and they were very grateful. The children were animated and enthusiastic. My methodology was simple: teach with compassion and love. Through rigorous and passionate practice of this method I tried to teach and inspire the children through hands on activities, educational songs, and lesson plans.
Currently, the organization is working towards achieving their goal of becoming self-sustainable. They have two classrooms for teaching and tutoring, bedrooms for women and their children, a small farm and garden, and a recycling program. Mama Victoria also operates a gourmet chocolate company where the women make and sell chocolate with the goal of learning job skills as they begin to rebuild their lives. As the business grows, they will use the profits to continue to expand their educational programs and services.
By creating a website for Mama Victoria, I used technology to shine a light on the organization’s work and their mission in the world. I felt by creating a website for them, they could draw more attention to their cause and make it easier for others around the world to learn about the work they do and try to get involved. The organization is dedicated to building loving relationships within their community. I am humbled and grateful to have had this experience. It was so rewarding, and I will always remember that.