SKIP Director, Liz Wilson, has had an article published in an academic journal this month for a special Edition of the Journal of Worldwide Tourism and Hospitality Themes exploring “How and Why the Volunteer Tourism Experience Should be Improved?” Liz’s contribution entitled, “Finding the Win-Win: Providing supportive and enriching volunteer tourism experiences while promoting sustainable social change” explores issues around child protection and encourages practice improvements within the industry to better safeguard both volunteers and people they may be working with.
This week was a really busy one in SKIP but the kind that helps me feel connected with the work we are doing because we were giving out school supplies to all the families. Well, I say giving out, but actually these days the families choose the supplies themselves, we just provide a voucher for the stationery store, Copy Ventas, and they are able to select the things they need.
On the first morning, we were a little anxious about how things would go because last year there were huge delays and people had to wait for hours to get served. There were two of us working the line, giving out vouchers and generally making sure things were organised. Upon arrival, just before 8.30am, there was already a queue of over 20 families so we knew that the start was going to be a bit chaotic. As the first three families went to the open tills, we waited. And waited. As the minutes ticked by we started to feel a bit worried as it became clear this was going to be a very slow process. Memories of last year and the long delays began to creep into my mind and I started to doubt that we had learned enough to make the process efficient.
I realised that there was a bit of a discussion going on at one of the tills and I walked over, the shop assistant was saying, “No, sir, you have to go back to the line. No! You have to wait your turn…”
I leaned towards to the father to listen to what he was saying, he was very calm. As many of the fathers we work with are, he was a little unsure of himself and he laughed a bit in that way you do when someone is being kind of unreasonable to you and you feel powerless to do anything else. “Yes, I know,” he was saying, by this point I was guiding him away from the till so we could talk, he continued, “I want to know if you can give us a price list of the items we can choose, so we can prepare what we want to buy before we get to the till.”
And there it was, so simple, the reason why this was all taking so long and another reminder of how easy it is to disempower people even when you have the best intentions. Without prices, no one could prepare a list that added up to the amount that they had to spend, which meant they were taking twice as long at the till. I remembered my frustration and confusion about how long the shop assistants were taking at the tills last year, I hadn’t thought to consider how that process was working.
We printed lists of prices and set to work. For those who were able to work independently, they did the calculations themselves. For others, we worked with them to make the calculations and some families also needed help to decide what they wanted to buy. Time at the tills halved and then quartered.
In moments like these, I am reminded how hard it is to have empathy. How we forget to step out of our narrow perspective and look through someone else’s eyes. How difficult it is to understand the experience of any situation when you are not living it. Most of all, I am reminded to listen.
~ Liz Wilson, SKIP Director
All our latest stories and news in the December Newsletter including fundraising updates, plans for new projects and celebrations!!!
When we began the academic year in 2014, we were all very excited and keen to start before even realising that this year a new group would be added to the workforce.
To our 9 original groups in the Primary Education Programme we added one more. Group 10.
It would be different from the other groups in that it was created in response to a timetable clash for some children who have to go to school in the afternoon and therefore can’t make it to our SKIP classes.
It was a challenge from the beginning, not just in terms of the struggle to have enough volunteers to run the sessions, but also the complexity of teaching so many different grades at once, which ranged from 1st grade to sixth grade.
The group began with a simple plan based on the necessities of each individual student, not just on an academic level, but also on a social, behavioural and emotional level. This incorporated dealing with their lack of basic reading and writing skills, going on through to the times tables and all the way up to the social needs of each age group in group 10.
Lots of time was dedicated to working on the values of team work until we had managed to build safe, strong ties between all members of the group. Now we enjoy an atmosphere of mutual help and even complicity, resulting in excellent team work and collaboration in carrying out their daily tasks.
Group 10 was formed and strengthened thanks to the team work and participation of all the volunteers who have worked within it.
The group has now advanced to such an extent that, on an academic level, all the students of group 10 have passed their November tests with significantly higher grades to those they achieved in March, thanks to the effort that has been put in by everyone.
Today group 10 has blossomed into an active, funny and hands on group!
Great work group 10!!
Vanessa Bellón, Primary Coordinator.
Every 20th November SKIP celebrates International Children’s Rights Day. This year we had an amazing celebration thanks to a lot of hard work from the volunteers.
Jake agreed to write and direct a play called, ” The Rhinoceros and the Stars” which reminded the children it was important to follow your dreams. Théo put on a magic show which was received with smiles and lots of applause. Mitchell played his guitar to accompany the festivities and the volunteers made things had a lively feel by dancing.
There were several different activities for the children, they wrote on the walls in chalk, there was a “Tunnel of feelings” where they were challenged to distinguish different flavours while their eyes were covered…
At the end of the day, we formed a big circle together and danced while thinking about our hopes for the future.
Here’s what some of the participants had to say:
“I’m so pleased to have been able to participate in today’s celebration and change roles from a teacher to a clown – I think I’ve enjoyed it as much as the children!!” ~ Theo, Primary Class Teacher, groups 6 and 8
It was such a special day for me, a testimony to the love that we feel for our work (for the children!!) Jean Claire, English Teaching Coordinator
“An unforgettable experience that I’m going to remember forever” Rachel, English and Art teaching volunteer
You can see more pictures from the day on the SKIP Facebook
SKIP recently formed a partnership with a social business from the US called NISOLO who work with shoe makers in El Porvenir. SKIP will provide training for NISOLO staff on a monthly basis for the next three months and there is potential that the project will be extended to something more permanent.
On Saturday 15th November, with excitement to get started, we began the first session which explored themes around economic development, family budgeting and savings schemes.
During the training session the NISOLO workers actively engaged in the training, asking lots of questions and making suggestions. In this way they maximised the learning opportunity, including demonstrating the mission and vision of NISOLO and motivating the workers to continue increasing their level of productivity in the pursuit of a shared goal of improving the company.
At the end of the session, the workers thanked the trainer, SKIP’s coordinator of Family Welfare, Hilda Pachamango Martinez, and a date was set for the next training session in December when representatives from Lima will also be attending in order to evaluate the activities.
~ Hilda Pachamango Martinez
Check out all our latest news and stories in the October Newsletter – Statistics show SKIP kids do better!!
For several years, here in SKIP, we have been working with families to promote holistic-learning and foster autonomy. This year we continued to develop a very important project which builds empowerment through workshops for parents and carers who have been with the organisation a long time, so that they may become primary school classroom assistants.
Training is held once a month exploring a different theme in order to get people more involved not just in the project, but also in the academic results of their children, and furthermore to give a place for learning and reflecting.
The parents and carers who volunteer as teaching assistants have demonstrated the knowledge they have acquired throughout all their years of training, and they have offered complex and positive reflections, on what is considered to be essential for adequate teamwork.
Within these sessions we have concluded that:
• The team needs to have a common and clear objective to foster group bonding. In our case we have concluded that the objective is to promote individualised and professional attention in order to help our students become better people and to achieve more and better academic learning.
• Commitment, Involvement and Responsibility unite us and make us stronger as a group.
• This bonding is achieved through solidarity, cooperation and empathy
• We need to put a guide in place that will foster this liaison.
• Accurate and positive communication is what will allow us understand each other and move us forward in our objectives.
Through group dynamics we have generated an atmosphere of harmony, happiness, love and mutual respect.
Volunteers and parents both have demonstrated a high level of involvement and participation in the project, as well as the love and absolute dedication necessary to achieve the longed for objective: to learn and to be happy.
In SKIP we continue with enthusiasm on this parents and carers classroom assistant project in order to improve it every year.
¡¡We will achieve this together!!
Vanessa Bellón Santamaría (Primary Education Coordinator)
The Alianza Francesa (French Alliance) is a cultural center in downtown Trujillo that features artwork and cultural events helping to spread knowledge and understanding in a cross-cultural exchange. Approximately every 4-6 weeks, the center opens its doors to local vendors on Saturday mornings to sell their goods. SKIP has been using this opportunity to sell products made in our creative Economic Development workshops. Normally there are a wide range of vendors, ranging from fair-trade clothing and other NGO’s to organic food vendors and artists.
There is a good deal of camaraderie between the vendors, as we sample each other’s wares, eat and share coffee, as well as information about our products and organizations. Overall it is a very festive atmosphere and a good opportunity for marketing our products as well as for friendly networking between like-minded individuals and organisations.
The staff at Alianza Francesa has always been extremely helpful and friendly, from Ana, the Cultural Coordinator, to the ever present French families who founded it and keep it running . I have met several other similar NGO’s after working in the Alianza Francesa, giving me the opportunity to learn about how they operate and where many of them sell their goods. In addition, I have been able to meet people from larger umbrella NGO’s who work with local NGO’s like ours in marketing our products and reaching a broader network of people and organizations in our field. Overall the Allianza Francesa is a fun time and a great opportunity for SKIP!
On the 13th of September we celebrated Youth Day in SKIP with all the young people from the secondary programme.
The whole Secondary team were really excited about the event and had spent time preparing their activities. We also made a few artistic creations for the office to dress it up a little and make sure that it was a special moment for everyone. It was a day to get to know each other better, have a little fun and let go, outside of the classrooms where we normally spend time together.
As part of the theme, “Together we can do it” we spent some fun time with the young people and, of course, it was a fun time for us SKIP volunteers too. The objective was to work as a team, develop listening skills, respect, communication skills and, of course love.
After all the games we took to the dance floor and everyone had took a turn to show off their moves. Some groups preferred to talk while others were happy to watch or looked for volunteers to chat to. The bravest danced in the middle of the patio while others watched on.
So there were smiles all round and the loveliest comments from the kids, “Profe, can we have more days like this?” “I’m embarrassed to dance, but I’d like to try”
“Profe, Together, we can do it!”
A day filled with joy and happiness for adults and young people alike.
You can see more photos of Youth Day on our facebook