Ten years ago, families in impoverished communities in southern Peru like Cusipata were focused exclusively on agriculture and ways to earn money to survive. In their struggles against poverty, parents were distanced from their children, who became last in receiving attention and love.
But thanks to World Vision’s work, this community has changed, and now parents put their hope in their children for sustainable development.
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Parenting style is a fundamental influence on child development — but in rural areas of Peru, a lack of communication between parents and children is very common. Most parents were raised under the same conditions, usually with violence and low self-esteem, and they tend to repeat that behavior toward their own children.
Carmen, a tenth-grader and member of World Vision programs in Cusipata, has witnessed significant change in her community over the past few years. “I was afraid to ask questions in class or to express an opinion,” she says, looking back. “I didn’t want to seem dumb. This was a common feeling since our parents didn’t have time to talk with us. They had to work in the field all day long.”
Seven years ago, at the age of 8, Carmen decided to participate in the World Vision’s Friends Club project, which aimed to involve children in training programs about vegetable gardens and modern agricultural techniques. At that time, this was a topic of interest for them, since it was the primary means of their family incomes.
Four years later, both Carmen’s self-confidence and knowledge were growing. During that period, around 180 children were participating in training about rights, values, and leadership. It was in these classes that Carmen realized that she could actually support her family and community. She is the third of four siblings.
World Vision also promotes positive parenting initiatives to strength communication within families. “Our parents participated with us in workshops about sexuality, communication, and values. Then things started to change,” Carmen says happily. “Now, days are still busy, but we always find time to talk about our days, and that is good.”
Through youth leadership projects, Carmen learned about her body, identity, and values, as well as social skills, which led her to become a peer educator in sexuality and HIV prevention in her community.
Carmen’s father works as a bricklayer. Her mother, 47-year-old Brigida, says, “My older children are very shy, but I see that Carmen knows many things. She is talkative and her opinions make sense. The orientation that children receive from World Vision is very good.
“At home, we just make our best [on parenting], but we still don’t know many things,” she adds.
Brigida also had the opportunity to participate in World Vision’s health program to enhance childcare and nutrition. She learned about nutritious food, hygiene, healthcare, and how to prevent common diseases. “I learned to cook a balanced diet with vegetables and proteins. I also learned about early education practices,” Brigida recalls.
Now, at 15, Carmen is an outstanding student. She was even chosen as a “teacher assistant,” a program that acknowledges the best students. She is one of the 20 assistants who watch over the discipline of the Tupac Amaru Segundo School.
“I am grateful to World Vision for helping me increase my self-esteem,” Carmen says. “Now, I am aware of my rights and duties. I feel that I’ve improved my performance in school and my personality, too.”
Currently, Carmen is part of World Vision’s entrepreneurship program, where she learns how to improve guinea pig breeding with modern technology. Her mother started this activity several years ago: They began with eight guinea pigs, and now they have a small business with 500 animals. They sell around 10 guinea pigs every week and make an income of U.S. $50.
“The money I make is to afford my children’s education, since I’ve learned that this is the best legacy I can leave them,” Brigida says.
World Vision’s child sponsorship program plays a vital role in our partnership with the people of Peru, and donors from the United States sponsor close to 18,000 children through that program.
Sponsor a child in Peru today. Your commitment to a boy or girl in need will help deliver basics like nutritious food, clean water, access to education and medical care, and much more. But it will also help foster the health of an entire community through projects like the ones in which Carmen participated.