Andean communities during the pandemic
Cusco is a touristic region, where most of its population live off the tourism revenues. Many individuals from the communities also work like gatekeepers in the Inca Trail. Unfortunately, these activities have been postponed due to the ongoing pandemic, causing many families and communities to have no income. Therefore, the community members restarted working on their lands, selling their crops such as potatoes, or even trading their products through the AYNI, which is a reciprocal ancestral practice between individuals or andean communities that has been a big support during these times.
Integral Support Program
During the pandemic, we have continued the educational accompaniment of our beneficiaries through the Integral Support Program, via telephonic and virtual communication. The children ask for our help to complete their homeworks, to widen their understanding of the information given to them by their teachers in their textbooks. Sometimes they do not fully comprehend the information given at school and because some of the parents are illiterate and can’t read or write, they are unable to academically support their children. Given this, our team and volunteers are happy to resolve any of their doubts and questions, we watch out that they meet their academic duties as well as we guide their parents in this new online methodology.
We experience great hope and satisfaction about children worrying about their own understanding in school and that they ask for help if themselves or their siblings are in need of assistance. We perceive their interest and desire to keep surpassing these difficult times in order to keep learning. Furthermore, we can observe the strong relationship siblings have among them as they help each other while doing homework and learning. Likewise, in many cases, they didn’t have mobile phones or the school subjects were too complex to explain by phone calls. For this reason, we have performed face-to-face visits, complying with the safety protocols, to help them with their school work and thus, they can continue learning.
Supporting with School Materials
Many of our children did not have school materials to work on the assigned homeworks. In Peru, the classes were supposed to start in March but were delayed until April 2020 due to the current pandemic. Because of the social isolation measures, the Education Ministry of Peru, implemented online classes through televisions, radio and internet. In rural areas, where MySmallHelp Peru is located, connectivity and access to electronic devices are limited which is why many schools started their classes via WhatsApp.
Nonetheless, none of our families have printers to print their homeworks which is why it was necessary to hand out school materials for all our beneficiaries in school-age. With authorizations for mobilization on hand and meeting the safety protocols, we were able to go to their homes and distribute school materials so the children could continue studying. Also, we took advantage of these visits to know better the situation of each family member. We observed what they needed and evaluated their current situation so that we could continue providing them our support.
In case you are wondering, the homework process is as follows: the children receive their classes and homeworks via WhatsApp (can be through pictures or in Word files), they look at the images, complete their homework on their notebooks and then, they send the work to each teacher. As we previously mentioned, internet access and good connectivity are limited in this area which is why WhatsApp chats have become the new “classrooms” in 2020.
English Project at a distance
The English project of MiPequeñaAyuda- MySmallHelp Peru, started in 2017 like a workshop in rural schools and is part of our Educational Program. Since 2019 it was formalized as a project thanks to the financial support of the organization GoCampaign from the United States. This year given the COVID-19 pandemic, we had to adapt to the changes and migrate to an online education. We decided to continue teaching English with a distance learning methodology so as not to stop the progress and learning of the children to date.
This year, we are teaching at the Virgen Fatima school in Ollantaytambo and the Pachar community school. Karla Rojas from Costa Rica and a certified English teacher, is the assigned teacher for this school year. This is a huge accomplishment for our project given that we count on a highly professional and certified teacher to teach the students.
In order to continue with the classes, now on an online modality, we had to organize the classes via WhatsApp. The school Principals and us experience great joy to observe how the kids respond and value this opportunity. They work hard in all of their courses, not only on the English course but also given the current circumstances with all the changes regarding the delivery of school material and the limiting technology and connectivity issues they are facing by living in a rural area. However, our students put a lot of dedication and try their best to continue learning, which fills us with satisfaction. In addition, by learning from home, we have noticed improvements on the parent’s support, who are more willing and attentive to their children’s education.
In 2020, our plan was to teach english to 190 students. However, as with every problem an opportunity always arises, thanks to online education we are not only teaching in 2 schools but 3, including the Soccma community school. Furthermore, we are happy that our impact has been even more than what we initially expected, reaching out to 430 people, who are learning the language. This means that besides our students, 240 more people within families, neighbors and teachers have been indirectly benefited from our project this year.
What else were we doing during the pandemic?
We took advantage of this time to connect with different organizations, to participate in different webinars and virtual meetings with incredible speakers and receive very useful contents. We have been invited to some interviews and we have also participated in conferences that have allowed us to spread the word about MySmallHelp Peru and our work, as well as we started our classes in Peruvian Sign Language (LSP) with our friends from the Sueños Compartidos organization. We are very happy because we have been able to get trained on diverse topics, learn and expand our vision to continue improving and growing in order to continue offering better services to serve our beneficiaries.
It is very important to expand our network of contacts, as it is the key to achieve more. Joining forces to achieve greater goals of common interest motivates us to continue to do our best, because together we can reach and serve more people.
In addition, we have been applying for awards and looking for new opportunities of funding. We have some new projects in mind that we wish can be carried out in order to improve the quality of life of more people in the communities of Cusco.
We’ll keep you posted on what’s new!