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SWIDP Course

Do what you can, with what you have, where you are – Theodore Roosevelt

The SWIDP (Social Work, International Development and Psychology) training is offered by SKIP three times a year and the second session successfully ended two weeks ago this summer while the third one commences in fall. The SWIDP course covers topics ranging from volunteering experience, approaches to behavior management using psychology, mindfulness, migration in Peru, social reality of SKIP service users, gender as a concept in Latin American societies, etc. The summer session began the week of 6th June and ended on 18th of July with training classes twice every week. This was an intensive programme to fit with the number of volunteers in SKIP for just two months over this time period, the regular programme lasts for 14 weeks with sessions once per week. The course was facilitated by qualified social worker, Hanna Voekl, who originally hails from Germany. SKIP’s CEO and the Peruvian staff team were also regular contributors to the taught sessions.

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According to the Social Work and Society -International Online Journal, despite many attempts to define social work, there have been some disagreements in trying to come up with a universal definition. Thus, without a general agreement on what constitutes social work, it is difficult to definitively delineate what the roles and functions should be. The apparent failure to reach an agreement on what social work is partly accounts for the gap between what social workers say they want to achieve and what they are practically able to achieve as per the Scottish government’s take on social work. Hence, it is easy to presume that it is almost impossible to find a simple definition of social work with which everyone is likely to agree.

The SWIDP training course combined elements of social work, international development, psychology and child behavior in the context of SKIP and Peru in general in order to enhance volunteer understanding and experience. Volunteers participated from a range of countries including the United States, Hong Kong, Scotland and England.

“The SWIDP training course has been really interesting, I learned various things about Peru and El Porvenir, the place we operate at. I enjoyed the presentations by Peruvian staff and gathered information in person,” said Miriam Eyre, a second year student at the University of St. Andrews.

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Numerous arguments have supported the idea that development education should not be confined to educational settings focusing directly on development studies but ought to be incorporated in other human services training, given that practitioners within the health and social services sectors are increasingly demanded in the development sector as well as playing roles as  torchbearers in the fight for global justice. The 17th issue of Development Education with Borders explored the idea of Social Workers Without Borders (SWWB) concept boosting social work education in fostering knowledge and interest in the development field and promoting opportunities for ethical international practice. These arguments and ideas are exactly what the SWIDP training course at SKIP has covered while using context and history of Peru and the realities of daily life in El Porvenir.

One of the most important aspects covered in a few SWIDP training classes is the concept of “Voluntourism” and how it must be carefully managed so as not to shed a negative light on the concept of travelling abroad to “volunteer”.

“The concepts I have been exposed to at the SWIDP training course has been important for me to understand the various social work and international development projects in-depth. I really liked it,” said Harry Oliver from the University of Leeds.

We look forward to greeting the next cohort of eager students arriving in August in a few weeks time!

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The Memory Project in SKIP

Nearly one year ago, SKIP was approached by The Memory Project, an NGO based out of the United States and asked to participate in their endeavor to give children around the world a memorable portrait of themselves to commemorate their childhood in the name of art. “It’s not another donation,” explained The Memory Project representative, Ryan, “it is a unique gift for artists in the States to garner this reflective experience in Peru without leaving home.” So in December, volunteers took over 750 photographs of children in SKIP at the chocolatada, and the surrounding schools in El Porvenir and Alto Trujillo.

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Now, nearly eight months later and the photographs next to forgotten about, The Memory Project returned to Peru with close to 3,000 hand created artworks of the children here in Peru.

During those eight months, the photographs were sent to art classes and individual artists around the United States. Each artist was tasked to embody the life, individuality and uniqueness of the children within their artwork.

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“As someone who participated as an artist for The Memory Project back in 2008, the ability to see my students at SKIP receive the same portraits from the project truly was an incredible experience. The project not only is a memorable gift, but also an influential and inspirational opportunity to demonstrate the importance of art education and creativity in underdeveloped communities,” says current SKIP Art Leader, Anne-Marie Kottenstette.
The hope is now after watching the students be so excited over their new portraits that they will be inspired to create more artwork themselves and cherish the unique drawings that embody their youth.

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Leeds RAG supporting SKIP

For the fourth year in a row, students from the University of Leeds have traveled across the ocean to volunteer with the Leeds RAG programme at SKIP. After fundraising and planning since last summer, the twenty-five volunteers arrived in two groups over the course of July and August. Packed next to their sunscreen and Spanish-to-English dictionaries the volunteers brought enough enthusiasm, passion and hard work to sustain their time in Peru.

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Working hand in hand with fellow SKIP volunteers and coordinators, the Leeds students quickly grasped the love of teaching. Spread between English, Art, Sport, the library and classroom assistants the volunteers planned and executed creative and educational lessons for primary and secondary students.13669379_10154039185547670_3220855220909921216_o

For international development student, Ruby, one of the best parts of the experience has been to “see how it really works in the field and in practice. To see how a real grassroots organisation is run and knowing [she] can properly be involved was a refreshing change from the larger volunteer organisations.”

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Even when their students were on vacation, Leeds continued to push through to make the most of their time in El Porvenir. Challenged by a large wall and a wet paintbrush, the Leeds volunteers addressed the messy graffiti outside and inside of the SKIP office. Now with a fresh looking library and spiffed up front mural everyone was ready to start the new semester.

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As her time in time came to an end, second time Leeds volunteer leader, Kate, reflected on how she was “very impressed to see so many improvements made since last year. I can see that the management has taken our considerations to improve the Leeds RAG programme and SKIP. We can really see where our energy and fundraising is going and how it will continue to be sustainable after we leave.”

Thank you for all the support and help of all our University of Leeds volunteers. We are looking forward to seeing you next year!

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Summer Psychology Workshops

Values and social competencies are essential to a person’s success in their personal and professional lives. For this reason, SKIP focuses on providing quality education to prepare children for their futures and offers psychology workshops to all children attending the primary education program.  The workshops started at the end of 2015 and topics were chosen based on the needs of the identified service users. The first set of workshops introduced topics regarding communication skills, self-awareness and identifying emotions, as well as anger management and impulse control.  During the second set of workshops held as part of Holiday Club (the programme we run during the school summer holidays), SKIP offered intensive courses with two topics per week which addressed teamwork, empathy and anti-bullying training, enhancing active listening skills and encouraging peaceful conflict resolution.

The third set of trainings are running for 6 weeks during June and July. This time, Elizabeth Burnett, who is earning her Masters in Social Work at Miami University in Ohio, and serves as a Social Work volunteer at SKIP, joined Hanna Voelkl, SKIP’s Social work, Psychology and International Development Course (SWIDP) Facilitator, in the planning and implementation of the workshops. In constant communication and collaborating with SKIP staff members of the Social Work and Psychology Programmes, the quality work to the children has been ensured.

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The topics chosen for the current workshops are self-esteem, social responsibility, gender roles and equality, as well as a second anti-bullying training, as bullying is a continuous recurring challenge worldwide for children of all ages. These workshops have been implemented based on the principle of learning by doing and playing and using interactive methods like games, creative arts, videos, storytelling and role play. With the use of these methods, the children have been able to absorb and use the acquired knowledge and also had fun!

There have been several highlights thus far during trainings but one in particular was during the self-esteem workshops. By using crafts and art, children created trees, flowers, and shields of arms which included drawings or kind words in regards to themselves, encouraging them to recognize their personal qualities, talents and skills sets they all individually carry. At the end of each self-esteem workshop students lined up one by one. Elizabeth had a blanket over a mirror and said, “there is something very special and beautiful beneath this blanket”. The students would inquire with curiosity about what was underneath this blanket. As the children patiently waited to see what was underneath the blanket, they soon realized, as the blanket was being pulled up, that special “something” or “someone” that was being referred to was themselves.  When Elizabeth saw the children looking at themselves in the mirror she would say the word “You! That special person is YOU”!  Each child, no matter how young or how old, was able to receive this message with a large smile upon their face. To say the least, it was a success and very inspiring!

Elizabeth Burnett and Hanna Voelkl

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Volunteer Blog – Shabeena’s story!

I have been back home in the UK for 2 weeks now. It has taken me 2 whole weeks and I still have not managed to process my entire experience at SKIP and how it has overwhelmingly exceeded all my expectations

Going abroad to volunteer and teach primary children English had been a dream of mine for the last decade so the hopes that the experience and the charity could live up to a life achieving dream was almost impossible in my mind.

 

SKIP – THE ORGANISATION

In a world where making a decision on where to volunteer, includes seriously avoiding the volunteer tourism traps that are out there and ensuring that where you spend your time, money and emotions are on a charity where you can make a true, positive impact on those receiving the services as well as helping you to grow, learn and develop areas of yourself is so important and difficult to make.

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With SKIP’s focus on the whole family receiving services such as welfare psychology, economic development and education as well as the contribution fees being paid in the Peruvian currency; proving that all money is spent within the country shows 2 major differentiators from all the research I had previously done with other volunteer organizations. The 3rd differentiator is when you land and see your weekly timetable – it is clear – you are there to work hard and make an impact.

The education of the families include Economic Development and Microcredits, where the mothers of SKIP use their skills to make items to then be sold in local coffee shops and markets, with the profits going back to the mama’s. Microcredits are issued in order to help families achieve a better living standard or profiting their businesses.

And then of course there are the children…. In my case primary children, all bundles of energy… admittedly not always to the benefit of the English lesson. I am sure that these little beings have taught me more about myself and challenged me more than I them. Where language is a barrier and their energy endless (and their ability to use a human as a climbing frame… a very unique talent), together we created what I can only describe as our own ways and language to learn….me correcting their English, them correcting my Spanish and together learning the most important thing – respect and kindness for each other, our differences and similarities.

I’m not going to lie, there are lessons you jump with excitement that you achieved your lesson plan! Then there are days where you feel you did not achieve teaching the children a single word…. not even just one… but then you are reminded from the rest of the very dedicated team around you – sometimes it is not just about being able to teach the children “It is 8’Oclock in the morning” or “I brush my teeth in the morning”, it is the experience, the attention, the care, the other social and cultural exchanges you give the children which are almost a bigger lesson than what you initially intended to teach.

 

SKIP – THE FAMILY

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When I got on that plane and travelled 22 hours (3 flights!), I did not think I would be flying to a place where I was to meet my family away from home. The volunteers are passionate about SKIP but the volunteer coordinators are a true foundation and the core of SKIP. They are dedicated like no other. Working around the clock to ensure that the running of the organization continues as smooth as possible – looking after me when I was sick, making me ginger tea to clear my itchy throat, going over my lesson plan so I was confident around the kids, being true mentors and inspiring leaders and making the SKIP volunteer house a home. The bonds created and shared was not anything I had imagined to be part of this experience and I am so happy that I chose SKIP and met what I truly consider my second family – there to challenge and inspire me in all I did during my time there. I have carried the lessons I have learnt from the people at SKIP and the children in my heart.

I would urge anyone to go and challenge yourself and be challenged with the support of this incredible SKIP family.

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Celebrating Mother’s Day in SKIP

On the 14th of May we had a celebration in SKIP for Mother’s Day. For this special day the organisation decided to arrange a trip just for them and this time they visited the beach in Huanchaco where they had a great day full of happiness and fun.

Arrangements were down to the Social Work Programme who were able to obtain two buses, loaned by the University UCV, for a free ride to the beach. As well as the games that we played at the beach, there was also a special lunch in a restaurant in Huanchaco.

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The buses arrived at 10am and all 60 mothers piled onboard. We left at 10.30am with all the mothers super excited for the trip, for a number of them it was the first time they were going to see the sea.

Arriving at the beach they were excited and got off the bus to run and see the sea, a great spectacle, their happiness reflected in their faces as well as the surprise of being there for the first time. Some of the women entered into the water to catch crabs, while others lay in the sand to soak up the sun.

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We started the journey armed with equipment for volleyball and ran a small championship, everyone was really enthusiastic to get their teams together and give everything on the court with words of encouragement they would spur each other on. When the mothers who were not playing encouraged their favourite team it would lift their spirits and at the end of every game we had a winning team!

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After the adrenaline of the volleyball game, came the moment to relax and enjoy the energy from nature. Hilda ran a yoga session for the mothers and as they are always keen to get involved, the women followed all of her instructions. The yoga was a really rewarding and somewhat healing experience and many women commented that they felt better, more relaxed and free after the exercises.

After this we went on a beautiful walk to enjoy the landscape of Huanchaquero together, socialising and walking on the seashore, enjoying the breeze and sun and sea until it was time to eat! We headed to a restaurant where they were waiting with open arms and tables ready.13173623_585857851577939_8499673377319456677_n

The lunch was delicious and best of all the mothers were happy, having fun, talking and eating really tasty food. After a day full of fun and excitement we couldn’t forget the dancing and we all went over to the dance floor together and with great fanfare we moved to the beat of the music with jokes and applause for everyone.

The day ended when we arrived back at SKIP, the faces of each of the mothers was unforgettable as they were so full of happiness and appreciation, the goodbyes with hugs and promises that we would do this again was the best ending of all. It was a great day!

~ Cynthia Méndez Castañeda

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Updates from Holiday Club 2016

Club Vacacional is an extremely exciting period in the SKIP calendar. Our students have a long break from school during the Peruvian summer months and during this time they are often playing in the street or working with their families. Holiday Club is a six-week elective programme designed to provide a safe environment for the SKIP kids to play, love and learn together. The Primary students attend classes at the community centre four times a week during Holiday Club, and the Secondary students twice weekly. Alongside communicacíon (language and literature), maths and foreign language English classes, the students can participate in many extracurricular activities, such as Art, Sport, Journalism studies, Film Club, and Science and Experiments.

Reflecting on my six month SKIP experience, Holiday Club was without a doubt my favorite time of the year! Although the heat was exhausting, and our teaching schedules were busy, the results were worth the sweat, tears and late-night lesson planning sessions. Seeing each group so frequently during the week meant we easily built rapport and strong relationships with the students. In addition, working with more flexible curricula, we were able to complete projects in a matter of weeks that would usually take several months during the school year. In Art classes, for example, all the students contributed to creating a huge jungle in the art classroom. We’re still finding brightly painted insects and monkeys in hiding places throughout the community centre! In English classes, we had even the youngest students producing full sentences in their brand new second language, precisely because they were exposed to an hour of English four days consecutively every week. This is a huge achievement!

12771595_10153658553737670_2338177857518929412_oThis year, we rounded off the experience with a huge end of term party. Each Primary group performed a song and dance, and we were lucky enough to share the experience with “Tony the Magician” who put on an incredible magic show for the kids.

In summary, then, Holiday Club is a unique, fun, high-energy teaching experience and I would recommend it to anyone with oodles of enthusiasm and a knack for acting like a big kid.

~ Hatty Farnham

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Social Work and Psychology Training Programme in Peru

Hey, I’m Adam! I’m a social work student from the UK and I’m currently volunteering with SKIP for my practical placement. In my role here I have been teaching English to primary and secondary students, both within SKIP and in partnership with one of the local public schools, as well as working one to one with students who require extra support. Alongside this I have also been taking part in the social work training programme.

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The social work programme provides an opportunity to consider the social factors relevant to the lives of the children and families in El Porvenir; as well as a wider appreciation of the approaches to, and challenges of, international social work. We meet weekly and receive training from various members of the SKIP staff, covering topics such as child development, mental health and migration. In a recent session we shadowed a member of the social work team undertaking assessments of families. These house visits were a stark insight into the realities of life for those we work with.

The programme has been hugely beneficial to me as a social work student; however, I know that it has also been extremely rewarding for those on the programme who are not social work students. The sessions give opportunities to consider the work that SKIP does as a local organisation, as well how it fits within the broader picture of international intervention. Together the sessions have framed my understanding of my role here, and allowed me to reflect on my experiences in ways that have been incredibly insightful. I couldn’t recommend the programme enough for those who are interested in broadening their perceptions and making the most of their volunteering experience.

¡Saludos!

~ Adam Burton