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Blog: Leeds Rag Volunteer 2015

Volunteer blog: Peru Project 2015 Leeds RAG

Hello, I am Jessica Belfield and I have spent two consecutive summers volunteering in the Peru Project at SKIP through my university: Leeds. I have now graduated with a degree in Mathematics.

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I have grown up with a love and interest in the Peruvian culture, so when this project was advertised around the university, I knew it was an amazing opportunity and something I had to participate in.

In my first year with the charity, I taught English in two of the local schools in Trujillo and in a variety of different classes within SKIP; some of these included Sports, Art and Library sessions. I thoroughly enjoyed building a strong relationship with many of the pupils as I taught them in both their Primary school and at SKIP.

As a group of 36 volunteers from Leeds University, we built a beautiful mosaic of the world in the outside playground in SKIP. We constructed all the pieces out of blue and green tiles except for Peru, which we had in red, so that it could stand out in comparison to the other countries. This was a fun project and hopefully a piece of artwork that will remain in the charity’s area for a very long time. We also painted beautiful animal images around on the walls to make the area look more colourful and enticing.

Mosaic

I loved the project so much, after it had finished, I applied for the Leadership role for the next upcoming year. I successfully passed as an applicant and at the beginning of the university term, started planning the project. There were four Team Leaders and two sets of groups each of around 20 volunteers. We had to gather our volunteers through advertising and then delivering presentations to gain a team. This was fairly easy as Peru is an interesting and fascinating country so many people were very keen to participate in the project. We managed our team efficiently by making sure they had guidance and support in their teaching and projects.

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We also lead numerous projects, one of them included planning a very successful ‘Family Day’ which was an organised event to celebrate the charity’s successes with its team and members. It involved innovating a theme, short play and a range of fun activities; some of which included hat making, football and bowling.

Another project we did was renewing a classroom in SKIP. This involved sanding, debugging, repairing and then painting a classroom. The changes to the room were astonishing and our group were very proud of what we had achieved.

Lastly, we created a ‘Leeds RAG Games Box’ which included renewing or creating fun games for the children such as: Cards made out of DVD cases, Frustration, Fruit and Animal Snap, Guess Who, Operation, Maths Worksheets, Doll Dress Up, Dice, Checkers.

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Overall, my experience with SKIP has been amazing and I have learnt so much about teaching and team leading skills. I adore the charity and will continue to remain in touch with them to see their positive developments and the growth they will have in the many years to come.

Amazon Smile

You Can Help! Amazon wish list

If you aren’t already using Amazon Smile – please do sign up and link to SKIP – you don’t have to pay anything and the money is simply automatically donated by Amazon when you shop online.

If you would like to make a direct donation – please take a look at our wish list which we have put together on Amazon. With items starting at less than $2, every little helps. Especially for those of you who have volunteered with us, we’re sure there will be things on the list you could imagine having used in classes!

Emotional Intel

Emotional Intelligence in the Classroom

In October the Psychology Programme started a new project called Inteligencia Emocional en el Aula (Emotional Intelligence in the Classroom) for the primary school children. The goal of the project is to help the children be better able to identify, manage, and utilize their emotions in order to be more successful in school, at home, and in the community.

The psychology programme worked with the primary teachers to identify what social and emotional abilities are the most difficult for their kids, and also conducted a series of classroom observations to get a baseline of “problem behaviors” so that we can better track if the classes are helping. Each class will receive four emotional intelligence classes based around such abilities as

  1. Recognizing and naming basic emotions
  2. Identifying how emotions are experienced in the body
  3. Recognizing how others demonstrate emotions in order to build empathy,
  4. Understanding the relationship between situations, emotions, and behaviors,
  5. Developing skills to manage difficult emotions, such as anger, stress, sadness, and fear, and
  6. Learning strategies to manage impulses.

We started classes with Groups 1, 4, and 7, and the kids seem to be enjoying “la clase de emociones!” The class combines videos (including the recent Pixar Movie Inside Out, about the emotions living inside an 11-year-old girl), reflection through writing and drawing, games, stories, and skills teaching (such as teaching children about how to “turtle” by going inside their “shells,” breathing deeply and repeating a calming statement to reduce impulses or sensations of anger) in order to introduce children to vital skills necessary for self-regulation and interpersonal effectiveness. Below are some photos of the children illustrating the primary emotions that they feel as being “in control” of their actions, and how they think these emotions might look. The kids are doing a great job with this complex and sensitive topic!

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Entrevista

University of East Anglia Interview with Liz Wilson

I learnt many things during my stay with SKIP. The experience made me a much more understanding and patient person – I will never forget it.’

Smile Frankish, final year Translation and Interpreting with Double Honours Language (French and Spanish)

SKIP is a not-for-profit organization registered in the United States, United Kingdom and Peru. Liz Wilson, the director of the organization for seven years, is highly respected for her work and the results being achieved by SKIP in the impoverished district of El Porvenir, Trujillo (located on the northern coast of Peru), so much so that in 2014 she was invited to give a TEDx talk. Here at UEA, we were fortunate to receive Liz on October 21st, 2015 when she made a presentation to our students about languages and working in international development. I took the opportunity to talk with Liz about her experiences as director of SKIP, an organization for which I have great respect and admiration since 14% of the families with which it works with have come out of poverty in the last four years. SKIP really does change the lives of young people with whom it works with.

Hazel: Tell me a little about your career, how you came to be director of SKIP.

Liz: Well, when I graduated (Liz holds a BA in psychology) I had the opportunity to go to the Dominican Republic and then to Guatemala as a volunteer. It was a marvellous experience, but also a great shock. I was working as an English teacher, but soon realized that being a ‘native speaker’ in itself did not make me an English teacher! They gave me a book and said ‘here are your students, start on page 27,’ but the truth is I did not know how to begin. There was neither support nor training. I remember these initial experiences well – I know what it is to start in volunteering and that is why at SKIP we provide the volunteers with all the support and training needed.

After these first experiences I returned to the UK to undertake a Masters in Social Work, and from there I started looking for another job with a not-for-profit organization. It was not easy, but after a while I managed to get an interview for a volunteer position (as an applications coordinator) with SKIP. In this same interview, the director informed me that she would be changing employment and the opportunity presented itself for me to apply for the position, and I was accepted.

Hazel: If someone wants to work in international development or for a non-government organization, what would be your advice?

Liz : I would say the most important thing is to find out first if the organization offers training to its volunteers; second, if they have child welfare/protection policies; third, if there is an annual financial report as well as information on the organization’s finances; fourth , if there is a description of the tasks. Finally, ask if there are figures or other data which demonstrate positive results – indicating that the organization brings benefits the community it aims to support

Hazel: What do you like best about your life in Trujillo?

Liz: Mango season! I love them and they are cheap. What else? It hardly ever rains, the beach is close-by, the people are incredible … it’s an inspiring place.

Hazel: Thank-you Liz.

SKIP’s main objective is to support the children of El Porvenir, Trujillo, to exercise their right to have an education. They believe that families are the main force in the lives of children and thus they work with the entire family. This holistic approach centres on the four pillars of family development: education, financially stable families, emotional wellbeing, and healthy and safe family environments. SKIP believes that economically disadvantaged families have the ability to be the main agents of change in their own lives. Hence, they collaborate with the families to empower people to realise sustainable changes.

You can read the original article (in Spanish) here Liz article

uniofleeds

Presentation at Leeds University

Getting Into……the International NGO Sector…..

Liz gave a presentation at Leeds University in the UK in November while on her annual tour to speak to students who are interested in international development. The speech was written up as a blog entry for the University newsletter – click here to read the full article

“Last month Liz Wilson, CEO of Supporting Kids in Peru (SKIP) visited the University and gave a really insightful presentation on tips and advice for those interested  in getting into the International NGO sector.  In particular she covered some key points to consider if this is something which interests you, which I’ve summarised in this post.

Understand the issues:

The NGO sector, by its nature, is complex and challenging. International NGOs, or INGOs, in particular are often criticised for doing more harm than good. People and organisations usually have the best intentions, but you need to ensure that you’re informed and understand the implications of what you are doing.  Liz highlighted 4 areas, with examples, to examine when you are looking at NGOs and their work to help you assess their value and the implications of what they do….read the full article on the Leeds University blog

Dental

Dental Health Campaign 2015

Preventing dental illnesses like tooth decay and gum disease- the main diseases present as far as mouth health is concerned. These diseases come about for different reasons, one of which is a lack of knowledge about oral care. This served as the motivation for the launch of a dental campaign, made possible by the volunteer support of the dental practice “Aguirre”. With high expectations, families arrived very early to be seen and we were able to attend to 10 patients during the afternoon, including doing two tooth extractions. The dentists were able to perform dental extraction very carefully and hygenically. Each patient was encouraged to brush their teeth well in order to avoid getting tooth decay at any age. Due to the high attendence of this campaign, another one will be programmed shortly. This advice is also reinforced in SKIP where the children brush their teeth when they come in for classes

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Shalini Huaraz

Volunteer Blog: Adventures in Economic Development

“I got four moms in today!”

Milandra, another Eco Dev volunteer, showed off how busy her day in the microcredit office was. It was week five a SKIP for me, and I had only gotten four moms in total in all my time working the office. I never hid my jealousy of the fact that Milandra always won when it came to mom-interaction in the office; after all, the moms are everyone’s favorite part of Eco Dev!

Shalini office

My name is Shalini and I spent two months volunteering with the Economic Development program at SKIP. I’m currently studying economic development at the University of Michigan, and I wanted a chance to explore how this worked on the field as well as improve my Spanish. SKIP’s program exceeded my expectations. I not only learned about how microfinance programs work, but I got to do so in a culturally immersive environment.

My typical week included a house visit, a shift in the microcredit office, everyone’s favorite task—data entry, and sometimes, workshops with the mothers. Most of the Eco Dev work included some form of interaction with community members. House visits were more than just asking questions about why a loan payment was late; these were times when we were invited to sit inside homes, chat with moms about their kids, and watch them run their bodegas with the confidence of a real business owner, and if we were lucky, they gave us free bananas! These moments showed me the applications of microcredit; from it be raising pigs to owning pantry stores, I saw how microcredit fosters innovation and entrepreneurship.

Furthermore, I had countless opportunities to improve my Spanish. The epitome of my experience speaking-Spanish was conducting business workshops for the moms with my coworkers. With each 45-minute session, I was challenged to be conversational, disintegrate challenging topics to understandable lessons, and use economics-related vocabulary. I was required to have a thorough understanding of SKIP’s economic development program as well as knowledge of the mothers’ economic situations in order to relay how factors such as interest rates, budgeting and saving impact their daily lives. This experience was my first step in professionalism in Spanish and has given me a good starting point from which I can continue to expand my language skills.

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The most memorable part of Eco Dev was seeing the mothers’ community. Laughing while making jewelry, veteran mothers encouraging new mothers to join the Eco Dev program, the confidence with which they explain their businesses and ideas—this shaped my perspective to look beyond the data entry days to the big picture moments of the soft skills gained through pursuing economic development. My experience with SKIP has taught me that the right tools truly bring out people’s brilliance and innovation. Needless to say, the full experience of Eco Dev can only be understood once experienced, and I can surely say that I would experience this all over again.

~Shalini Rao

ali

Volunteer Blog: Psychology Electives in SKIP

Wow! I can’t not believe my time is already up in PASEO program. My name is Ali. I am a rising 3rd year clinical psychology doctoral student who participated in the PASEO program and worked with SKIP for 4 weeks this summer.

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I was initially drawn to the program for a number of reasons. Personally and clinically, PASEO provided an opportunity to improve my Spanish to be able to conduct therapy and assessments with Spanish- speaking clients. While this is an ongoing goal of mine, it has been difficult to realize given the limited opportunities for Spanish-speaking training. As an incoming low/intermediate speaker, the opportunity to take Spanish classes increased my confidence in having the language tools to get the most out of an immersion experience. Supplementing such learning with an understanding of cultural competency and adapted evidence-based practice for Latino populations seemed like an integral piece to such training that was offered by PASEO. Further, the ability to learn and train in an immersive environment abroad seemed like a dream come true (cheesy, but true!). Lastly, the program also appealed to my research interests in global mental health providing not only seminars in the topic, but the chance to actually see mental health services abroad. Really only one of these reasons would have attracted me to the program, but having so many just compounded my excitement.

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Amazingly, over my time working with SKIP and in the program, all my expectations were met and exceeded. I feel that I have a much stronger foundation in language skills that will be the starting point from which to continue my training and learning. General Spanish classes, those specific to psychology, immersion and exposure to the language all worked together to facilitate such a foundation. (I would write the next sentence in Spanish but don’t want to show off). Classes in cultural competency, global health, working with Latino youth and families, and working in low-resources settings enhanced my appreciation for the immersion experience, the field, the people, and the immense need. I felt that this all culminated to then being able to actually work and interact with youth and families in the area through service-learning. Teaching and working with the families themselves was invaluable. Being able to actually learn from the youth and families in the community with every interaction defined much of my experience in the program. (Also seeing the look on a child’s face when he or she does not understand you in Spanish is a quick way to really begin and try learning the language without embarrassment.) Further being able to observe and participate in groups and workshops for youth and mothers began to teach me how to use the language and clinical techniques specific to working in this community. For example, watching how the psychologist would introduce topics such as discipline strategies or suicide in a safe and effective manner was important to my clinical skill development.

While I think it should be obvious by now my feelings about this experience, there were two more aspects of PASEO and SKIP that shaped my time. That was working and learning in Peru and the people. Being in such a culturally rich, welcoming, and warm country I felt flooded by opportunities to learn from everything around me. The families at SKIP further embodied such openness and welcoming. Lastly, the people involved in the program (and outside the program) were wonderful. I left the program with a network of individuals who are all passionate about contributing to minimizing the need for mental health services for Latino youth and families. I believe that this network, along with continued supervision of my individualized goals through the program, will help me improve as a Spanish speaker, clinician, researcher and student. The amount I learned through the experiences in this program is hard to describe, but I feel very agradecido por it all. I hope to be back soon!!ali

Nursery

Kindergarten “MY LITTLE SCHOOL” (Baby explorers)

“My little school” (Escuelita) was the name of the class for the 1 and 2 year olds. It took time for the children to adapt to their new experience in first grade of cycle 1. They got used to the routine such as not crying when they entered the classroom. The strategy was to be kind and give them confidence, and we did this by starting off the routine with toys, going outside to the playground to eat lunch in train formation, singing at the start of an activity and using movement activities with instruments and music, believing that they can enjoy growing up and their education without missing out on the opportunity to sing, play and share. This is the best recipe so that they form an excellent relationship with learning and means that they can learn in a fun way.

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~ Ingrid Pereda Valdiviezo (SKIP Nursery Teacher)