Diary of a Dream
by Annalisa Iadicicco + Marlon Krieger
Reel 1: The Girls
Reel 2: The Educators
Clips from interviews discussing the meaning of education
Introduction to Centro Yanapanakusun
We believe education to be at the forefront of the battle against poverty, subjugation and abuse. By giving women and children the tools they need to become self-reliant members of their societies they will lead the path to a world of equality and hope. With education they not only gain the power of knowledge but the ability to provide for themselves thereby freeing them up from the hands of oppression. It is only by empowerment that we will attain change. But what is Education?
Education itself posses many challenges and if applied erroneously can create more damage than benefits for a village and culture. Part of our mission, through this documentary is to get to the heart of what education is and what it means: What have been the most successful applications and the worst failures, what methods work where, and what does education encompass. We know that education helps level the playing field for the oppressed, it gives opportunities and delivers one of the most important commodities: Dreams. These people live in circumstances where hope and dreams are scarce and not given a chance to bloom: without dreams we won’t get far.
Regardless of the challenges of intervention and the difficulties of delivering the right education we believe that it is our best mechanism for change. It is only through education that people stop being victims and are able to take their own fate into their hands. Educate one person and change a household. Educate a dozen and change a community, educate a nation and we change the world.
We are working with two charities in Peru who place education at the forefront of their missions to help children under two very different circumstances. Each believes that through education, inspiring confidence and by giving children a voice, they empower them to change their own destinies. Child labor currently reaches 31% of the population under 15 in Peru, one of the highest rates in Latin America. By giving children the tools they need to be active members in today's society, CEDEC and Centro Yanapanaksun ensure that these children will follow their own choices in life, not those dictated by a situation of exploitation.
“Children work because their survival and that of their families depend on it, and in some cases, because unscrupulous adults take advantage of their vulnerability. Child labour is also due to weaknesses in education systems and is deeply rooted in cultural and social attitudes and traditions. The problem is further compounded by the fact that child labour remains hidden from public view, making the problem seem less of a priority.” (International Labour Organisation (ILO) Caribbean Website 2006).
CEDEC’s focus is on children, adolescents and families living in the ostracized district- like shantytown of Villa El Salvador in Lima where children battle poverty, hunger, lack of clean water, healthcare and the simple tools to change their destiny. CEDEC tries to address these needs not through a handout structure, but rather through the efforts of the local community, enabling families to control their own fate and affect a difference on their lives instead of relying on charity.
CEDEC is a Peruvian registered non-profit organization dedicated to promoting learning through a combination of educational, psychosocial, physical, handicraft, artistic and recreational methods for children and adolescents. Based in one of the largest and most famous shantytowns in Latin America, Villa El Salvador is home to some 400,000 people and was started in 1971 when a group of 200 poor families living in inner-city Lima slums decided to "invade" a tract of desert land on the outskirts of the city. In less than two days, 9,000 people joined them.
The government reacted violently to the land grab, sending in troops to evict the invaders. After several people were killed in the standoff, the government tried to resolve the conflict peacefully and offered the families a massive plot of land 12 miles further south of metropolitan Lima. The land was on a large sand dune and had no water, electricity, sewers or access roads. Nearly 7,000 families relocated there in May 1971, and Villa El Salvador was born. It was officially incorporated as a district of Lima in 1983. All the residents own their land (which was given to them by the government) and live in houses built by their own means.
The inhabitants of Villa El Salvador are poor, and receive little to no assistance from the government, even today. CEDEC believes that to affect lasting change you have to educate children in a way that prepares them for an active and self-reliant life in society as a part of the economy, not outside of it. Their goal is to provide them with a balanced environment that focuses on such things as improvement of communication skills; written and oral expression, reading, writing, mathematics, nutrition and the development of creative thinking. All classes are taught by qualified instructors and supported by teacher assistants to ensure children get enough one-on-one guidance to succeed. In-class topics include citizenship, rights and identity, art education, livelihood skill training, nutrition as well as general studies and computer skills.
CEDEC strongly believes in a grass roots hierarchy to Aid: that people need to be the catalysts of their own change for the aid to have a lasting effect. Therefore parents are involved in all levels or organizations, funding and development of the schools. There are currently three schools serving the community of Villa El Salvador, non-for-profit.
Centro Yanapanakusun focuses on child laborers, sadly a very prevalent issue in Peru and a state that is tantamount to indentured slavery. The Centro works to give children, some as young as seven years old, a voice as well as safe place to stay, education, and family and cultural strengthening to help build a local support group and develop pride. Similar to CEDEC, the idea is not to provide charity but to be a guiding hand, an enabler for these children to take control of their own destinies.
Centro Yanapanakusun essentially functions as a support network for young child laborers, their families and their communities. A non-profit organization legally established in August of 2001 but active since 1994 the Centro works with Indigenous children that have been plucked from their families in rural areas, some as young as seven years old, to work in the households of the middle class in large cities hours away. Taken from their families with the promise of a better life and an education they find themselves lost without any familiar ties, in big cities they’ve never been to, forced to work as little better than indentured servants- no rights and often enduring gross physical and mental abuses. Separated at such a young age that many loose all ties to their families or knowledge of where they came from, they are forced to work long hours, six or seven days a week with only a few hours off each night. Child Labor reaches 31% of the population under the Age of 15 in Peru, 4.3 million child workers are between the ages of 6-14 years old. (US Dept of Labor, Sweat and Toil of Children: Efforts to Eliminate Child Labor, 1998, citing a 1995-1996 survey) 1.5 million live-in maids are sexually abused*. (*Statistic for all ages. MHRD/UNICEF, Report on trafficking of Children for Prostitution, 1998)
Aside from the Centro there are very few organizations giving a voice to these children, we found the practice very much accepted in Peru, as segregation once was in the Untied States before the Civil Rights movement. There is no transparency for child labor so their numbers and the extent of their abuses are left mostly undocumented. When they get too old, or become troublesome they end-up homeless or worse. Without any ties in the big city and with no way to contact families back home, the only option is to endure or to run away and face life on the street.
The Centro provides many of the children a safe place to stay, group support, help to establish connections with families and their culture, meals, education, computer literacy and a voice through a local radio station that airs for 30 minutes every
day. Centro Yanapanakusun ”does not to pretend to solve the problems of domestic workers, but rather gives them the tools to control their own fate”. Only by giving them their own voice can they change their path. Many spend the few spare hours they have involved with the Centro; attending night school, volunteering their time, mentoring, etc. They are taught not to see themselves as victims in need of charity, but as young people with a voice, a path and the choice to make a difference in their own lives.