The HELP Women programme is about supporting women and women’s empowerment in and around Huanchaco. Since this project began in 2011, we’ve been working with several groups of women, but currently we are mainly working with the Comedor group of women that has been organised through the local church. We started collaborating with and supporting this women’s group in June 2013, although the Comedor is an institution that has been up and running for over a decade.
The Comedor group has a monthly budget provided by a large amount of sponsors from abroad. This budget provides the women with groceries to cook breakfast and lunch for the children and themselves and is supervised by an empathetic and sincere Peruvian social worker. The Comedor also provides the children and their mothers with a safe space where they can play, do their homework, do crafts or just have a nice chat with their friends and community members.
The HELP Women programme offers two different skills classes to the women – sewing and baking – which gives them the opportunity of selling their products to receive an income and put food on the table. The vast majority of women with whom we work receive a very low income and very few of them have jobs outside of the household. To give the women a better chance of succeeding and a means to earn an income, we incorporate basic business and marketing skills into the workshops to support their education and personal and professional development.
The HELP Women positions are some of the most challenging positions we have to offer, although they can also be incredibly rewarding. The women can be inconsistent and it is going to take a while for you to build trust and strong relationships with many of them. The women come from low-income backgrounds and a generation influenced by sexism and abuse; many have migrated from the highlands of Peru, where these issues are even greater. These issues can mean that sometimes the position can be stressful, frustrating and emotionally draining and we are looking for volunteers who show leadership, are culturally sensitive, strongly motivated and well grounded. Despite the difficulties, many of our volunteers with the above mentioned attributes have discovered incredible moments of achievement and satisfaction with the HELP Women project, especially in the personal relationships and individual successes they have witnessed and shared with the women.
The Comedor is open Monday-Friday, from about 5am-4pm (although workshops can be scheduled until 6pm), which provides a very flexible schedule. In addition to the workshops that you’ll be leading, you’ll also the women also greatly appreciate support every once in a while with the daily chores of the kitchen, and this is also a great way to build trust and relationships with the group.
• Leading the workshops in sewing or baking. Whilst it helps to have skills in one of these areas, it is not essential
• Organising training in sewing/baking to increase the women’s skills in these areas.
• Incorporating basic marketing and business skills into the class and ensuring that they are jargon-free and accessible to those who have had limited or no exposure to these topics before.
• Helping to build the women’s confidence
• Liaising with the Comedor social worker
• Meeting individually and in small groups to build relationships with the women
• Supporting, attending and participating in group meetings, events, training and activities
• Age 25+
• Advanced Spanish level
• Minimum commitment: 3 months
• As this is a women’s empowerment programme, we only accept female volunteers.
• Mature, flexible, patient, empathetic, enthusiastic.
• Desirable: skills in sewing and/or baking
• Desirable: background in business/marketing, psychology, social work, women’s rights, gender studies, social studies, sociology etc.