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The Light and Leadership Initiative

BY: Sammi G | Dec 11, 2018

A quality primary and secondary education is something every child deserves. In Huaycan, a developing community in the outskirts of Lima, Peru, students are not given the chance to participate in an education system that provides them with the opportunities they deserve. Due to lack of funds, poorly trained teachers and a wide education quality gap on a national level, Peru’s public education system is struggling to move forward and respond to the needs of communities like Huaycan. The Light and Leadership Initiative (LLI) is working to change the future of education in the Huaycan community. Since 2009, we’ve offered over 8,500 after school and weekend classes (spanning English language to financial education and more) to both women and children. Learn more about a few of our participants below: Sara, Juan, and Jhonny


Sara, and her two sons, Jhonny and Juan, have been participating with LLI since 2011. Sara, a dedicated single mother, has raised her two children to always focus on education and serving others. A talented and educated artist, Sara teaches art at a local high school and applies her earnings to support her sons’ education. She has been taking Computer courses and English courses with LLI for the past several years. Juan, her oldest son, began taking private English classes with LLI’s English volunteer teachers several years ago. The English classes helped propel him to finish high school, complete a certificate program in an English language institute in Lima, and now enroll in university classes, majoring in English Education. Now, Juan has finished our LLI English program and volunteers on the weekends in our youth English classes, giving back to his own community while gaining practical teaching experience. Jhonny, Sara’s youngest son, joined LLI and became a very involved teenager right off the bat. He first started, like his brother, in private English classes to supplement his studies in school. Earlier this year, LLI opened up its new teen center, welcoming students ages 13-17 to participate in a variety of courses, workshops and library sessions. Jhonny has taken full advantage of the teen center offerings, including intensive English classes and homework help, while attending the teen center 4 times a week. Sara states, “Thanks to Light and Leadership for helping both my sons. Their self-esteem has improved so much and they receive help they need. I always tell them serving others is the ultimate happiness in life and it’s great to have them a part of the organization.” Adaly, Yonah and Jacky


Adaly, a mother of two young LLI students and women’s program participant, joined LLI’s programs early 2014. Her youngest daughter, Jacky (8), came to LLI’s reading program with a very slow reading speed. Simple access to books and guidance by volunteer teachers has boosted Jacky’s reading speed, and also self-esteem. “Jacky has changed so much and our family has changed as a result. Jacky hated studying before, but now she reads every night. I believe they’ve (Jacky and Yonah) learned a lot from the teachers,” Adaly said. Adaly also participates in LLI’s women’s program and cites a recent women’s group potluck as one of her favorite memories. There were foods from different regions of Peru and different countries, including avocado juice! In addition to the potluck, Adaly has participated in workshops like nutrition, which helped her give better nutritional meals to herself and her family, cultural artisan crafts, and most recently, self-defense. The Light and Leadership Initiative has been working since 2009 on improving access to quality education. Our grassroots initiative currently serves roughly 150 participants in Huaycan, a developing community in the outskirts of Lima, Peru and welcomes volunteers from all over the world. Our programs are offered before and after school and on the weekends to women and children ages 7-17 years old. Interested in learning how to help? -Make a one time or recurring donation to directly support our education programs -Contribute to our Amazon wishlist, packed with classroom supplies and books for LLI’s library. -Volunteer! We accept volunteers nearly all year round (except December). More information can be found here: or contact Lara DeVries, Founder and Executive Director at