Sunday, July 24, 2016


Our project finally feels like it's coming together!  We have been kept very busy these past two weeks buying materials and meeting with academics and talking things over with the foundation.  We have now contracted a psychologist and a lawyer to give the workshops to parents and youth for the month of August.  The topics for the parents' workshops include: the psychology of violence in general; specific types of violence, their effects, and how to break the cycle; child development; addictions and their impact on violent behavior; the legal implications and resources for sexual abuse; the legal implications and resources for domestic violence; and the rights of the family.  For the youth group, the psychologist will cover sexuality instead of child development, and the lawyer will only give one session regarding the police, drugs, and domestic violence.

The workshops will be relaxed and interactive with a focus on the real-life applicability of the information and what resources are available in the community.  After each workshop we will sum up the information given in a pamphlet for the participants to keep, and there will be assessments throughout the course of the program to gauge the efficacy of the workshops.  After the pilot program ends in September, a new group of parents and youth will begin the workshops throughout the course of the school year, augmented by a few other themes.  The participants from this summer's pilot program, joined by every year's new group, will act as community ambassadors, employing the information from the workshops to their own lives as well as spreading the knowledge to their neighbors and friends in informal ways and through formal events in the schools.  

The passion we have seen from all involved to get this project off the ground has been so inspiring.  Next week we will continue with our preparations to make sure the start of the program in the first week of August will go smoothly.

Emma working on the project plan outside of our house

Annette and Emma with the university volunteers and the daycare director
Without all of their advice and support none of this would have been possible

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Spreading our reach

Our first month has been full of many changes and exciting developments.  We had another meeting with the foundation's president and vice president on Sunday and we are now going to be able to expand even further the new plan we made last week.  Instead of training the university students, the foundation is going amend the whole university volunteer system so that they only accept psychology and education students.  With this issue fixed, we are going to work on improving the training that they give to the parents of the children who attend the daycare.  Currently there are five mandatory talks on any subject from domestic violence to oral hygiene.  We all agree, however, that just giving parents information about different subjects with no structure will not provoke a real change in practices.

We will thus be running a pilot program this summer to educate adults and middle-school aged children about specific obstacles to peace, and enable them to combat these obstacles in their own lives and in their communities at large.  Over six weeks of biweekly workshops, we will focus on five areas that the foundation has identified as preventing peace in this community: 1) domestic violence, 2) addictions, 3) lack of education, 4) gender violence, and 5) discrimination.  Then the foundation will continue this program during the school year long after we are gone. These workshops will be targeted to educate children who attend local schools and are particularly motivated to learn, and to educate the parents of the preschoolers at Burbujitas de Luz who also show motivation to learn and act.  The foundation members have contacts with professionals who can lead these workshops and we will create a syllabus and a manual based on these sessions so that the participants can then assist in training the next year's group.  These 'peace promoters' will also create events in their schools or their neighborhoods to inform and engage others.  There will be continual assessments of the efficacy of the program by checking in with the parents, and the foundation is committing itself to increase their fundraising efforts in order to continually support the actions of the peace promoters.

We are so excited that our recent seed of an idea - to enhance the training of the university students - has transformed into something with so much potential.  Our connections with this foundation have certainly been invaluable.  They told us that our presence here has sparked them to realize what next steps they want to take and has inspired them to begin pursuing their larger goals for the foundation.  Now we can work together to achieve these dreams.

You have to look / You have to sit without hurrying / in order to see. / The road is short / and the marvels many
One of many sources of inspiration we have received throughout the changes in our project