Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Reflections of A DHF Intern

As I write this entry, I reflect back on my time at Discover Hope, and all of the wonderful memories, stories and experience I feel privileged to take home with me to Madison, WI. Throughout my last three months at Discover Hope, I have not only learned non-profit organizations in developing countries, but I have been able to work with the women in the local banks on a variety of tasks. I have attended local village bank meetings, observed data collection meetings on the socio-economic status of women to see if they are eligible for a loan, created and facilitated Business-Oriented English classes, worked with the child care provider in offering child development knowledge, parent communication and child management techniques, attended dozens of Hope House trainings/classes with local women on jewelry, knitting, and cooking, and participated in meetings where women receive their loan and pay back their loan. It truly has been a fantastic learning experience for me. I know when I enter the workforce as a social worker upon my arrival into the States, I will be more culturally competent and socially aware as a professional. I have Discover Hope, Desiree, the many local women and my host family to thank!

I think back to all of the incredible women and children I have met at Discover Hope. I feel very fortunate I have had this inspiring internship to enter into the lives of families, offering support, guidance and a set of ears. As I walk away and enter into a new chapter of my life as a professional social worker, I will remember the knowledge, patience and teaching that Desiree offered me throughout these past three months. I will always admire her determination and dedication in offering these women a different, better life full of opportunity.

From the first day I arrived into Cajamarca, I have been treated like a daughter. With the help of Desiree, I have been living with the most wonderful family I could ask for. My Peruvian family has been an amazing resource and stable home for me during my last three months and I will miss them dearly and always be appreciative for their kindness and generosity. I couldn't have asked for a better family to live with during my time in Cajamarca. Their altruism and constant devotion to me still amazes me every day. I will forever remember in my heart this experience and treasure it always, wherever life takes me.


Monday, May 16, 2011

Introducing the Hope House Wellness Series

Saturday we commenced a new initiative at the Hope House geared towards improving our loan recipients’ self-esteem and overall mental health. We are calling it the Hope House Wellness Series, in which women will have access to group classes that will tackle problems impeding their personal growth and relationships. Subjects are based on what the women request and include: improving self-esteem, depression, anger management, raising adolescent children, improving interpersonal communication, and child discipline.
So on Saturday afternoon, Psychologist Roger Human and Jenny Munoz, elaborated a beautiful presentation on defining self-esteem and the origins of both high and low self-esteem. Twelve loan recipients from village banks located within the city of Cajamarca attended. What impressed me the most was that three participants invited their daughters to attend the talk because they felt it was such an important topic. Roger and Jenny are hard at work finalizing their work plan and budget to make this Wellness Series a reality. Our goal is to eventually offer interested women an opportunity to attend private counseling sessions with a psychologist so they can begin to find solutions to problems that impede their ability to be better individuals, mothers, spouses, friends, daughters, and business women. Thanks to your donor support and contributions, our educational trainings now encompass mental health- a topic that often goes unaddressed in Peru. Next Saturday our village banks from the countryside will be receiving the same talk on self-esteem. I’m looking forward to seeing the turnout. I’ll keep you posted.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

First Annual Mother's Day Event

Even though it’s been five days...I’m still recuperating.  Last Friday was a REALLY special day for the village banking project and for me. On May 6th we celebrated our First Annual Mother’s Day Event. Mother’s Day is one of the most important holidays celebrated in Peru… I’d even argue that it trumps Easter and Christmas. Because most of our village bank members are mothers and cherish their role as such, it was important that we honor them and provide them with an opportunity to laugh and have some fun.  For over  a month Ahidee ( our project coordinator) and Bertha (our bank promoter) have been hard at work, helping me create invitations, select a location, design decorations, organize indoor/outdoor competitions, select prizes and music, and hundred other things that are required when organizing such an event. Thanks to Bertha we were able to rent an indoor/outdoor recreation center located in the countryside of Otuzco, located 15 minutes from Cajamarca. After tallying the numbers, we had over 110 attendees that day. The best part was witnessing the various village banks participate in our indoor competitions. There was the Egg Run, the Sack Race, the Chicken Dance (yes!), the Yell Competition, and our infamous Balloon Bursting Competition. We ended the day with a healthy dose of soccer and volleyball. Overall, the event was a success. Our loan recipients laughed, played hard, celebrated with their village bank members, and had the opportunity to meet the other village banks for the second time.

As you can imagine word travels fast in Peru. I still don’t know who the culprit is but somebody spilled the beans that my birthday was on Friday. What that meant was besides the Birthday Cake and 12 village banks inviting me to a plate of food for lunch, I had to dance, sing, and hug and kiss everyone (all 110). It was really sweet and hands down, it was one of the most memorable birthdays ever! I’ve included some picture for your enjoyment!


Monday, May 2, 2011

The Hardest Working Team in Cajamarca

Ahidee providing biz advice to loan recipient
Teresita of VB Azucenas
 Hello DHF Family,

First things first…I AM alive and running a hundred miles per hour. I’ve disappeared for the past three weeks in order to give Maggie ample space to share her “Adventures in Hope and Chocolate” entries with you. This was a blessing since I’d been hard at work revamping our educational training methodology and heading strategic planning meetings with our counterpart, Multicredit. Today’s blog entry is accurately titled. Yesterday the world celebrated International Worker’s Day, which is a big deal in Peru. In true Peruvian fashion, however, I woke up this morning at 6:00 AM ready to work only to find out (after the fact) that today, May 2nd, was declared a national holiday. So on our day off, our project coordinator, Ahidee, and our village bank promoter, Bertha, decided to join me and put in a full day’s work at the office. I’d like to take full credit for organizing the 46 educational trainings in March and the 27 classes completed in April, but it would be a deception.

Bertha, our village bank promoter (first right), and I congratulating our Computer Basic Class on completing their module.
Bertha and Ahidee are my colleagues, personal therapists, cheerleaders, problem solvers,multitasking Hope House helpers, and so much more.  I’d like to dedicate International Workers’ Day to them and all of the hardworking public servants, who regardless of pay, give 110 percent because they absolutely love their jobs and enjoy making a difference in the lives of others.