Support Center for Working Children in Piura, Peru
Organized by: Heidi Karod
WHO WILL BENEFIT BY MY DONATION? 140 children and their families in a migrant neighborhood on the outskirts of Piura, a city in the desert of northern Peru. All funds will be sent directly to CANAT (Centro de apoyo para niños y adoloscentes trabajadores/Support Center for Child and Adolescent Workers) in Piura, Peru. CANAT is a well established non-profit of about 15 years, run by a board of directors which employs Peruvian professionals as directors, teachers, social workers and psychologists. They also have many volunteers and interns, primarily from Europe. They are funded entirely by donations and grants. CANAT is part of a nationwide consortium of similar participating programs, called ENCUENTROS, whose programs were originally modeled after those of CANAT. CANAT runs 3 primary educational programs, called Manitos Jugando (Playing Hands), Manitos Trabajando (Working Hands) and Manitos Creciendo (Growing Hands).
WHAT WILL THE FUNDS BE USED FOR SPECIFICALLY? Building and equipping a center in the Mónica Zapata neighborhood of Piura, Peru called a 'ludoteca', which provides structures, age-appropriate play for children ages 0-12 years of age. Professionals and volunteers provide programming integral to the development of the whole child, encouraging high self-esteem and the motivation to stay in school rather than dropping out to work. Children are often encouraged to drop at as early as 2nd grade to do jobs such as juggle or dance at busy intersections, work in the city outdoor market, recycle garbage or babysit siblings. Many live in very difficult home environments, without running water in crude homes, often with struggling single mothers or enduring violence and physical abuse. The ludoteca also provides counseling for parents from psychologists and social workers. Local university students also do volunteer in child development and physical therapy there. This programming in the ludotecas is called Manitos jugando (Playing Hands).
In the event that there is a tremendous response and additional funds are raised, it will go to general programming at CANAT. There are two other types of programming: Manitos trabajando and Manitos creciendo. Manitos trabajando (Working Hands) is an after school educational support center in an extremely poor and dangerous neighborhood near the public outdoor market. Children attending Manitos trabajando work in the market. Like the children in Manitos jugando, many live in extremely poor conditions and suffer from abuse and neglect. Without the assistance of CANAT, many would drop out of school very early. CANAT provides medical attention, social and psychological services, tutoring, supplemental classes in music and health education, financial education, showers, food and field trips. Many students in this program go on to find jobs and graduate from high school. Manitos creciendo (Growing Hands) provides vocational training to teenagers in cosmetology, cooking and clothing design/tailoring. Students come from the city or from very rural areas more than an hour away to spend a year learning a trade. In addition, they are also provided with showers, food, health and finance education, field trips and activities to promote self-esteem and independence. Nearly all students completing this program go on to find jobs in their field. Students who had to drop out of school often complete high school, and some have gone on to college, returning to work as professionals with CANAT.
WHERE IS CANAT? CANAT is located in the city of Piura, the capital of the department (state) of Piura. Piura was the first city founded by Spaniards in Peru and is a regional economic center. For this reason, it attracts many migrant workers, hoping to find jobs and a better life. Neighborhoos like Mónica Zapata begin as a neighborhood of squatters who build homes of bamboo poles and woven mats in the desert on the outskirts of the city. Gradually, homes will be converted to plywood, corrugated tin roofs, adobe and brick. Most homes have sand/dirt floors. The city recently installed temporary power poles. Homes share an outdoor spigot. Some homes are connected to a drainage/septic system, although no homes have running water inside and there are no fixed line telephones.
HOW WILL THE LUDOTECA CHANGE LIVES? The ludoteca is already changing lives and it has only been there for less than 2 months. Since the construction of the ludoteca building, neighbors and local officials have been inspired to begin creating a park with the ludoteca building at one end. There is now a soccer field with goals in the sand. Trees and flowers have been planted, with neighbors cooperating to carry water and maintain them. Two simple swingsets have been constructed. Children and their parents are learning why they should keep the area clean and free of garbage. Mothers are receiving support and creating a neighborhood support network. Mothers are stepping forward as leaders in the process. They are learning how to better care for their children and improve their lives. Children come running to the ludoteca, eager to learn. Parents are children are extremely grateful.
IF THE LUDOTECA IS ALREADY CONSTRUCTED AND IS CHANGING LIVES, WHY IS MONEY NEEDED? CANAT noticed that there was an immediate and severe need for a ludoteca in the Mónica Zapata neighborhood. This was proven by the dramatic response during the first week of the sign up period, when about 140 children were registered, and mothers and children hung out with volunteers and staff every day before the building was built, eager for interaction, instruction and attention. CANAT managed to construct the building using funds earmarked for other programs, initially equipping it with old, used materials from another site. With the overwhelming response, much more equipment and materials are needed. It now has the bare minimum needed just to open. With such a huge reponse, additional space is also required. Currently, there are 60 children ages 0-3 registered, so their programming is inside. Children aged 4-12 receive programming primarily outdoors.
HOW CAN I LEARN MORE?
CANAT has a website in Spanish: http://www.canatperu.com
I DON'T SPEAK SPANISH. CAN YOU TELL ME MORE?
I have written a blog about several visit to volunteer with CANAT. There are more than a dozen entries which explain in depth about the programs of CANAT and life in Piura. Here is a link: http://heidikarod.blogspot.com
I LIVE IN THE USA. CAN I MAKE A TAX-DEDUCTIBLE DONATION?
Unfortunately, no. I am the first person from the USA who has volunteered with CANAT and it is expensive to do the legal IRS paperwork to establish international non-profit status. CANAT has this status in some countries in the European Union but not in the USA. All funds will be electronically deposited in the CANAT bank account.
WHY ARE YOU INVOLVED WITH CANAT? WHAT IS YOUR CONNECTION?
My first blog entry explains in much more detail, but more than 30 years ago I was an AFS exchange student living with the family of Gabriela Renteria, the executive director of CANAT. A couple of years ago I went back for the first time to visit her family and find out more about her work. The programs of CANAT and its sister organizations are desparately needed and extremely inspiring, especially when you see how truly appreciative and eager the children and familes are for support and programming.
PLEASE MAKE A DONATION OF ANY AMOUNT. EVEN $5 GOES A LONG WAY IN PERU!!