Otra Cosa Network is a registered Peruvian non-profit NGO (no. 11126841) and a UK Registered Charity (no. 1133680) based in Huanchaco, Trujillo on the coast of Northern Peru.
Otra Cosa Network runs five of our own projects, which are all part of the Huanchaco Education and Learning Programme (HELP). HELP is dedicated to advancing the education possibilities and resources for those living in lower-income communities in Huanchaco and the surrounding shanty towns. Alongside this, we support several partner organisations in the area, as well as in two remote locations in northern Peru.
Juany is from Trujillo, Peru. She studied in the UK, holds a BA in Sociology, an MA in Education and Human Rights and an MSc in International Development from the University of Birmingham. She started OCN’s literacy programme with women in Yanasara in the highlands of Peru and the HELP Literacy: LitClubs programme for girls – and now boys – in Huanchaco. She has also participated in several development projects in the area, such as enabling shanty town residents to register for national identity cards.
Juany works as the Director of International Relations and has the lead role in building relationships with universities and other institutions, across the UK and Europe. She also shares responsibility for the growth and strategic direction of the organisation.
Peter is from England and holds a Maths degree from the University of Cambridge and an MBA from the University of Warwick. He is a qualified accountant and worked in various finance roles for 28 years before taking early retirement and moving to Huanchaco with Juany in 2005, where he worked as an English teacher before starting to jointly run OCN.
Peter now works from the UK as Co-Director on a part-time basis, where he looks after the UK finances and has overall responsibility for OCN strategy, guiding the management team and chairing the trustee board.
Originally from Scotland, Jenny studied International Law at the University of Glasgow and completed her Masters in Development Studies at the School of Oriental and African Studies in London, where she specialised in gender issues. Her Masters dissertation focused on social protection in Peru and its impact on women. Before joining OCN in May 2013, she worked for a large UK international development charity, managing volunteers on the British Government’s international youth volunteering programme. Jenny heads up our Peru team, as well as managing our HELP Women and HELP Literacy programmes. She also works on fund development.
Tefa is from Cocentaina, a small town in Alicante, Spain. She studied Business and Administration there. She lived in London for the last 10 years, where she became fluent in English and worked in tourism for most of those years. She volunteered with us during two months as a volunteer coordinator and in March 2017 she was promoted as the new Assistant Manager for Volunteers and Marketing. She also manages the HELP English programe and looks after the finances in Peru.
Chase hails from Dana Point, California, USA and studied International Politics at the University of California, Santa Cruz. He previously worked with a variety of non-profits focusing on environmental sustainability in Peru and Chile. Before coming to Latin America, Chase worked for a youth development agency in California where he was in charge of community partnerships, grant writing, volunteer management and a variety of educational programmes. He joined OCN in November of 2016 and is responsible for fundraising and looking after our relationships with our partner projects. He also manages our HELP Environment and HELP Youth Programmes.
The District of Huanchaco is part of the Trujillo province in La Libertad region, Northern Peru. The district capital is Huanchaco town, a quiet, easy-going place that still retains its fishing-village ambience. Over the last three millennia, locals have stuck to traditional ways of fishing, going out on their caballitos de totora (traditional reed fishing boats), and using their nets to gather their catch for the day. The district is home to Chan Chan, the largest pre-Columbian city in South America and Huanchaco town is a known surf destination. The argument that surfing derived from the pre-Incan caballito fishing traditions is so strong, that in 2013 Huanchaco was designated as a World Surfing Reserve.
In recent decades the District of Huanchaco has expanded exponentially due to migration from the highlands and the jungle by those looking for a better standard of living or forced from their homes by natural disasters such as the El Niño phenomenon in 1997/98. Many of these incomers live in the shanty towns surrounding Huanchaco and their daily reality is very different from many of those living just a ten minute walk away in the centre of the town. Unlike the town centre, these communities lack infrastructure – there are no paved roads, most households don’t have a sewage system and there is limited access to running water. Furthermore, having migrated from even poorer parts of the country, parents in these areas have often had limited access to education, and poverty and social problems are rife. All of this means that children growing up in these neighbourhoods are at a disadvantage from the outset and do not have access to the same educational opportunities as their more privileged counterparts.
In addition to our work in the Huanchaco area, we also work with two mountain village projects: one in Yanasara in the highlands of La Libertad region and one in Sícchezpampa in the highlands of Piura region.
Otra Cosa began in September 2004 as a small, low-cost volunteering agency providing volunteers to a few, mainly local, projects. It was founded by Peter de Hond and Janneke Smeulders and run from their vegetarian restaurant. When the couple decided to return to the Netherlands in April 2007, Juany and Peter Murphy, a British-Peruvian couple, who lived in Huanchaco and had already been working with the organisation on a voluntary basis since August 2005, agreed to take it over and became the directors.
2009 was a big year for the organisation. Firstly, it underwent a change of name from Otra Cosa Volunteer Agency to Otra Cosa Network in order to reflect the network of people and projects that we work with. This was also the year that the organisation was officially registered as a Peruvian non-profit NGO with the APCI (Peruvian Association for International Cooperation) and other Peruvian bodies. In December of the same year, Juany and Peter decided to return to England for the sake of their sons’ education. However, they have continued to oversee OCN from the UK on a part-time basis – developing the organisation, networking within the UK, Europe and elsewhere and providing general guidance to staff in Peru. In parallel they appointed a full-time Operations Manager in Peru.
In January 2010 Otra Cosa Network became a UK registered Charity. After this we began to develop our own projects, to complement our partner projects, with the aim of fulfilling unmet needs in the local community. In early 2011 our HELP (Huanchaco Education and Learning Programme) projects began in earnest and although we had already been teaching English in the community since 2007, our HELP English programme sought to strengthen and coordinate our many and diverse English-language teaching projects. In a similar manner, although our skate ramp was built in early 2010, the emergence of the HELP Youth project (originally called HELP Community) sought to develop our existing skate ramp project into a social development project and involved us undertaking social impact research to uncover community needs and wants. At the end of 2011 we started our HELP Women project, aimed at empowering local women through an integral programme that provides them with legal, psychological and vocational skills. Our HELP Literacy project began in February 2013 when we received funding from LitWorld, a US-based non-profit organisation, to set up a reading club for girls, known as a LitClub. This has been such a success that it has since expanded to include several LitClubs both for girls and for boys. Most recently, in January 2014 HELP Environment became the latest addition to the HELP projects. This project was formed as a response to the many environmental issues affecting Huanchaco, such as the beach contamination, and the need for more environmental education and awareness within the local population. Meanwhile, the Peru team has grown, currently including two Assistant Managers supporting the Operations Manager to provide better support to the community, to our partner projects and to our volunteers.
We are proud of how far Otra Cosa Network has evolved over the past years and we are looking forward to what we can accomplish in the future.
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