Please note that this project is staffed by local teachers and does not receive volunteers.
This project began in 2013 when Otra Cosa Network received a grant from LitWorld, a US-based non-profit, to set up a reading club for girls, known as a LitClub, in the shanty town of Cerrito de la Virgen. LitWorld recognises that literacy provides access to history, knowledge, creativity and democracy and so aims to create social transformation at a grassroots level by funding LitClubs to improving literacy in disadvantaged communities in both the US and around the world.
The focus of the LitClubs is to help the children engage with and enjoy reading, writing and storytelling, whilst promoting self-confidence. Many of the parents in the areas where our LitClubs are based have not completed school and a few of the children have already been forced to drop out of school, in order to help with responsibilities at home – be that cooking, cleaning or looking after younger siblings. This means that for many of them, reading for pleasure is something completely new. The LitClub classes focus on reading, comprehension and creative writing to encourage the girls to use their imaginations.
Our LitClubs run once a week as an after-school activity for children aged 10-15 years old and the leaders of our LitClubs are members of the local Huanchaco community. The LitClubs are single-sex environments and aim to provide the children with positive role models of their own gender, as well as to create a safe space where they can build their self-confidence. The LitClub curriculum is based around seven key strengths which are designed to foster trust and mutual respect between the members of LitClub:
Our Girls’ LitClub in Cerrito was the first LitClub in the whole of Latin America and the project has been such a great success that we opened a Boys’ LitClub in Las Lomas in May 2014 and a Girls’ LitClub in Las Lomas in May 2015. Whilst the Boys’ LitClub focuses on primary-school aged boys, both of our Girls’ LitClubs have both primary and secondary aged girls.
The LitClubs are truly amazing; it is wonderful to watch the girls and boys become more confident in themselves and in their ideas, which they express through reading, writing, drawing and storytelling!
Carmen is from Huanchaco and has a degree in chemical engineering. She was the original teacher for our Girls’ LitClub, Cerrito de la Virgen, starting in February 2013 and for a few months she taught the Girls’ LitClubs in both Cerrito de la Virgen and Las Lomas, before deciding to concentrate on just the group in Las Lomas, where she has lived for over 20 years.
She has led our Girls’ LitClub, Las Lomas since it began in May 2015.
Homer is originally from San Martín region in the Peruvian Amazon. He is an experienced primary school teacher, with a speciality in language and literature. He has taught at various public and private schools around Peru and currently teaches at one of the primary schools where we run our HELP English programme.
He has led our Boys’ LitClub, Las Lomas group since October 2014.
Yaquelin is the newest member to our HELP Literacy teaching team. She was born and brought up in Huanchaco, although she also spent several years living in Argentina. She is a qualified primary school teacher and has taught at several schools in the the district.
She has led our Girls’ LitClub, Cerrito de la Virgen since January 2016.