Peru, Winter 2013
To be given a second chance in life, and to rejoice in re-connecting with some of the girls whom I helped to mentor on my previous visit is a once-in-a-lifetime gift that TFI has so generously offered to me!
Based on my assessment from the last visit, along with the medical director’s support, I returned with a master’s internship project in public health, aimed towards youth empowerment through learning their understanding and experiences with health, stress and conflict within La Comunidad, and piloted a community health worker system to teach the youth a psychosocial health curriculum based on compassionate communication and mindfulness practices. Not only was it well-received by many, but it struck a surprisingly deep chord both within the youth and with me on the power of compassion and authenticity across human kind. Furthermore, in collaboration with a Peruvian trainer, a workshop on compassionate communication for teachers and staff in La Comunidad was also carried out at the site director’s request. Other activities on site included mentoring and guiding health activities (stretching and Qigong) with the girls ages 14 and up, and organizing various cultural and recreational visits in Lima and nearby areas with 50 youth. Attempts to engage a Canadian elementary school and La Comunidad for cultural and resource sharing has also been made. Finally, observation and assessment through collaboration with current and former staff, youth residents, and international volunteers with in-depth knowledge of the community on how to best serve youth residing in La Comunidad has also been an ongoing activity during my stay.