TAPESTRY 2030 TRANSCRIPT: EPISODE 2 – LEADERSHIP IN ACTION IN PERU

TAPESTY 2030

EPISODE 2: LEADERSHIP IN ACTION IN PERU

Tapestry 2030
Episode 2: Leadership in Action in Peru

TAPESTY 2030 TRANSCRIPT: EPISODE 2

Safa (introduction): You are listening to the Ontario Council for International Cooperation’s ‘Tapestry 2030’ podcast series, focused on the future of international cooperation and global solidarity, and the partnerships needed for gender transformative, sustainable development.

My name is Safa, and I’m your host. 

In this series I’ll be in conversation with diverse development actors and leaders from across Ontario and around the world, learning how they are working together to address some of the most pressing sustainable development challenges of our time.

You’ll hear stories of partnership; approaches to ‘Just Recovery’ in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic; and insights on ways you can make a difference in our collective work to ‘leave no one behind’. 

Ruth:  Solidarity means to me that we are one world, we’re always one world, and we have to always think of ourselves that way. We can’t individually or separately progress or create a better life or a better world – say for our family, we can’t do that without taking into account everybody else. 

Erla in Spanish: Para mí la solidaridad es sentido de Justicia. Nos solidarizamos porque hay una justicia que reparar, hay oportunidades de desarrollo que tenemos que contribuir. No hay auténtica opción con el pobre – es una frase de un sacerdote que me encanta este repetir lo  – que no hay auténtica opción por el pobre, si no hay una amistad con los pobres. Entonces solidarizarse, pero con toda toda su historia, toda su vida.

ENGLISH TRANSLATION: For me, solidarity is a sense of justice. We are in solidarity because there are injustices that need to be repaired, there are opportunities for development that we have to contribute to. This is a phrase of a priest that I love to repeat – that there is no authentic option for the poor, without friendship with the poor. So let’s be in solidarity with them, but with all their stories, all parts of their lives. 

Safa: Today we’re in conversation with Heart-Links Lazos de Corazon, a  London, Ontario based NGO and one of their Peruvian partner organizations, Centro Santa Angela, who work together to support the development and training of community leaders in the populous and rapidly growing municipality of Jose Leonardo Ortiz, Chiclayo. They do so in a way that gives priority to enlisting women in the program and encouraging leadership that is democratic, transparent, inclusive and committed to human and community development. 

Ruth: My name is Ruth Taylor. I’m the operations coordinator at Heart-Links Lazos de Corazon. I’m the only staff person there, I work three days a week and I’ve been with the organization for almost five years.

Erla in Spanish: Soy Erla Hoyos Zuloeta, soy coordinadora de proyecto de la Escuela de Líderes  que promueve el centro de formación y promoción humana Santa Ángela. Yo pertenezco al centro Santa Ángela desde su fundación, que ya nuestra institución tiene aproximadamente 36 años. Vengo trabajando con líderes sociales que es la puesta del centro Santa Ángela y esté vivo en el distrito de Leonardo Ortiz qué es el lugar donde también interviene la escuela de líderes.

ENGLISH TRANSLATION: I am Erla Hoyos Zuloeta, the project coordinator of the Centro Santa Angela School of Leaders. I have belonged to Centro Santa Ángela since its foundation 36 years ago. I have been working with community leaders since the founding of the Centro Santa Ángela and I live in the district of Leonardo Ortiz, where the School and center operate.

Ruth: Heart-Links is a small non governmental organization in London, Ontario. And we have a two fold mission. One is to support community development in northern Peru. And the other part of our mission is to develop global citizens here at home. We develop global citizenship by inviting Canadians to visit with our partners in the communities they work with in Peru, sort of a way of opening their eyes to another part of the world to see what similarities we share, what are the differences, what kind of obstacles people face, how they overcome them, and what we can do as Canadians to support their efforts to build a more just society and their communities. The work we do in Peru is to, as I say, to support community development, and we do that through working with local partners, so Peruvian organizations, who are looking at ways to improve their communities in different ways. And our role as Heart-Links is to finance and accompany those efforts. We have six partners in three different locations. With Centro Santa Angela, we’ve been working about 25 years, which is how long Heart-Links has been around. And the reason that we partner with Centro Santa Angela is because it’s a women led organization. It’s an organization made up of people from the community that they work in, so that is Jose Leonardo Ortiz. And they seek to promote full human development, so in in all aspects, but promoting especially work that is sustainable, work through a feminist lens and work that benefits the most vulnerable, the most in need.

 

Erla in Spanish:  O mi querido distrito de José Leonardo Ortiz, lugar donde yo esté nací, vivo y también trabajó por su desarrollo. El distrito de José Leonardo Ortiz está ubicado en la zona norte de la costa de Perú. Es un Distrito con cerca de 200,000 habitantes. Un Distrito que en nuestro país está considerado como uno de los distritos más poblados. Tiene 59 años de fundación. Sin embargo pese a los años ya de existencia, existe muchos problemas todavía de desigualdad e inequidad social. Hay porcentaje alto todavía de personas viviendo en situación de pobreza y extrema pobreza. Unos de los indicadores más visibles que no podemos aceptar, que todavía se viva aci en el distrito de Leonardo Ortiz es que todavía hay muchas familias que viven con la carencia de los servicios básicos de saneamiento. Hay poblaciones o sectores que no cuentan con el servicio de agua potable. Igual otro indicador de pobreza es que el acceso a los servicios de saneamiento básico, este el servicio de baños higiénicos no cuentan en muchas familias.Y lo hacen a través de letrinas o pozos sépticos que esté construyen también su propia comunidad. La violencia, la inseguridad y los problemas del cuidado del ambiente sigue siendo todavía un problema en nuestro distrito y estos problemas tienen que ver también con responsabilidad ciudadana, pero también con responsabilidad de sus autoridades y funcionarios. Pese a estás dificultades que existen en el distrito también el distrito tiene una riqueza y un potencial en su gente. Existen muchas organizaciones sociales, dirigentes, dirigentas que no están conformes con esta situación de vida y por eso se organizan a través de comités vecinales para buscar mejorar sus condiciones de vida.

 

ENGLISH TRANSLATION: Oh my beloved district of José Leonardo Ortiz, where I was born, live and work towards its development. The district of José Leonardo Ortiz is located in the northern coastal area of Peru. It is a district with about 200,000 inhabitants. A District that in our country is considered one of the most populated districts. It has been 59 years since its foundation. However, despite its many years of existence, there are still many problems of inequality and social inequity. There is still a high percentage of people living in poverty and extreme poverty. One of the most visible indicators that we find unacceptable is that there are still many families living in the district of Leonardo Ortiz that lack basic sanitation services. There are populations or sectors that do not have drinking water services. Another indicator of poverty is that many families do not have access to basic sanitation services, such as hygienic toilets, and so they use latrines or septic tanks that are built by their own community. Violence, insecurity and environmental problems are still a problem in our district and while these problems have to do with citizen responsibility, they also have to do with the responsibility of the authorities and officials. In spite of these difficulties, the district also has a wealth and potential in its people. There are many social organizations and leaders who are not satisfied with their living situation and so they create neighborhood committees that seek to improve their living conditions.

Ruth: So Chiclayo is a big city and Jose Leonardo Ortiz is a city on the outskirts of that city. It’s a city that grew up mostly through informal settlements. So it grew up very quickly and in a very disorganized way. There’s a street in Chiclayo that is the border between Chiclayo and Jose Leonardo Ortiz, and on one side you have this pretty city and on the other side, you have streets that are not paved, you have open sewers, you have communities without electricity, without running water. And although they have a city government, they’re terribly underserved. And the strength, as Erla was saying, is in the people who have organized to try and change these conditions, to try and engage their government to provide the services that they should be providing. And when the government doesn’t do that, to take things into their own hands. It is a community in great need, but as Erla says, with great potential, human potential.

 

Erla in Spanish: El centro de formación y promoción humana Santa Ángela es una institución que ha sido impulsada por las madres ursulinas con una motivación de poner en práctica nuestro compromiso cristiano, profesional y humano. En el camino de este trabajo del centro Santa Ángela que ya tenemos 36 años de caminar, es en este camino que nos hemos encontrado con gente, con organizaciones e instituciones generosas y comprometidas también con La Búsqueda del desarrollo y la justicia. Es en este camino que nos hemos encontrado también a lazos de corazón, con quienes hemos sentimos una sintonía para trabajar por el desarrollo. El centro Santa Ángela tiene una misión de empoderar. Empoderarse especialmente a la gente más pobre, a las personas que tienen pocas oportunidades de desarrollo precisamente por vivir en la pobreza. Nuestra misión es promover organización, fortalecer liderazgo en tres temas muy puntuales que responden a la problemática de la comunidad. Cómo es la prevención de la violencia de género, la protección del medio ambiente y el fortalecimiento del liderazgo ciudadanos. Liderazgos que apuesten, que trabajen por el desarrollo de sus propias zonas. Nuestro centro está conformado por un equipo de profesionales cuyo sentido de trabajo que tenemos es estar siempre al servicio de la vida. Estamos muy orgullosas de contar con este equipo, porque lo que nos une es una Mística de trabajo, tenemos una Mística de siempre estar al servicio de las personas que necesitan y lo hacemos, intentamos hacerlo también desde una línea de horizontalidad y mutualidad donde aprendemos juntos. El empoderamiento que nosotros promovemos en el centro Santa Ángela lo trabajamos desde 3 líneas. Queremos que las personas que viven en pobreza, pueden tener oportunidades de crecimiento y desarrollo en tres niveles, el crecimiento personal, social y político. Así es como entendemos el empoderamiento que haya un desarrollo pleno de las personas y su comunidad.

ENGLISH TRANSLATION: The Centro Santa Ángela is an institution that has been promoted by the Ursuline nuns with a motivation to put into practice our Christian, professional and human commitment. We have walked this path of work for 36 years, and it is in this path that we have met people, organizations and institutions that are generous and committed to the quest for development and justice. It is on this path that we met Heart Links, with whom we are in harmony, working together towards development. The Centro Santa Ángela has a mission of empowerment. Empowering especially the poorest people, people who have few opportunities for development precisely because they live in poverty. Our mission is to strengthen leadership in three very specific areas that respond to the problems of the community, such as the prevention of gender violence, environmental protection and the strengthening of citizen leadership. Leadership that bets on and that works for the development of their communities. We have a commitment to always be at the service of the people who need it, and we try to do it using an approach of horizontality and mutuality, where we can learn together. The empowerment that we promote at the Centro Santa Ángela is based on 3 pillars. We want people living in poverty to have opportunities for growth and development on three levels: personal, social and political growth. This is how we understand empowerment: the full development of people and their community.

Ruth: Heart-Links has been supporting the Leadership School run by Centro Santa Angela for about seven years now. Initially, in the first phases, there were phases that focused very much on the youth and on ensuring giving priority to women to develop as leaders. In later phases, the school saw the advantages of having both young people and older people working together because they would learn from each other. So on the one hand experience, on the other hand, youthful energy and ideas. And I was at one of the sessions there where the oldest leader there I believe was 70 years old and the youngest was, I think, in the first years of university, in college. And the older people were saying that they just loved being around the young people because the energy and the enthusiasm and the idealism that they had motivated these older leaders to continue doing what they were doing, to learn new things, to feel that all those years of trying to improve their community were bearing fruit, bearing fruit in a younger generation who would carry that forward. So from Heart-Links perspective, this project has been one of the most satisfying because not only were they developing leaders, training and engaging these leaders to work in their own communities and improve their own communities, but they also were training them and preparing them to engage politically. So to engage the municipal government to negotiate with them, to demand things of them, to hold them to account. One of the very interesting things about the school I think, is that students when they graduate, they continue to be involved, they have set up a committee, a monitoring, a sort of citizens watch committee that monitors an agreement that they’ve reached with the municipal government. They’ve said to the municipal government if you take power do you agree to do this and this and this? And so they reached an agreement, the agreement is in place and now this committee monitors compliance. So the leaders don’t stop being leaders just when they graduate from the school, they continue to be involved, they continue to mentor the new up and coming leaders. So it’s a project that has a big future for Jose Leonardo Ortiz, that has already begun to change the nature of relationships there and the nature of the city itself.

Safa: One of those students is 22 year old Junior Juárez. Here he is reflecting on the importance of the multigenerational nature of the leadership school program.

Junior in Spanish: Ha sido importante para mí la participación de los jóvenes y los adultos porque así se ha abierto un espacio de diálogo horizontal donde todas las perspectivas generacionales se han podido plantear para poder buscar en conjunto, una solución a problemáticas muy complejas y diversas que tenemos en la sociedad.  Lo que me ha cambiado dentro de mí y el compromiso que tomo es poder cambiar y ser un agente de cambio dentro de mi barrio dentro de mi comunidad para poder tener una transformación donde todos y todas nos sintamos representados.

ENGLISH TRANSLATION: The participation of both young people and adults has been important for me because this has created a space for horizontal dialogue – where all generational perspectives have been raised in order to jointly seek a solution to very complex and diverse problems that we have in our society. What has changed within me is the commitment I have to be an agent of change within my neighborhood,  within my community  – to be able to have a social  transformation where we all feel represented.

Safa: Peru has been particularly hard hit by the coronavirus pandemic and this crisis impacted the Jose Leonardo Ortiz district and the Leadership School program in many ways.

Erla in Spanish: Formar ciudadanos y ciudadanas significa formar personas que siempre están buscando el desarrollo de su propia comunidad, en relación siempre con sus autoridades. Al llegar la pandemia, la escuela de líderes estaba desarrollando el segundo año de formación con un grupo de líderes. La pandemia de hecho como a todos y todas nos tocó mucho. Nos impacto. Pero lo primero que hicimos, como en todos los programas del centro Santa Ángela es reinventarnos. Dijimos no podemos parar. No podemos detenernos. Los problemas grandes al que responde el centro Santa Ángela, no pueden dejar de ser atendidos. Y la escuela de líderes se reinventó en su modalidad de realizar las capacitaciones y en su modalidad de adaptar también el plan de estudios o los temas al tiempo de la crisis de salud que nos tocaba. A veces con la enfermedad de la covid, a veces con la muerte de sus familiares más cercanos. Entonces la escuela de líderes organizamos un plan de contingencia, cuyo objetivo era contribuir a su resiliencia personal, a desarrollar, a fortalecer su capacidad para sobreponerse a esta crisis, para que de esta manera puedan ser agentes activos a la resiliencia comunitaria. Es decir, reconocer sus propias capacidades para sobresalir a esta situación difícil para que así puedan también impulsar el resurgir en sus propias comunidades, que sean capaces de animar a sobresalir de esta situación difícil es su entorno más cercano, con las organizaciones comunitarias. Por eso en el plan que organizamos la escuela de líderes fue bien importante un componente nuevo que no lo habíamos tocado hasta ahora con tanta profundidad qué es brindar soporte emocional. Los primeros meses de la pandemia fue dedicado a fortalecer este emocionalidad, estos sentimientos, estos situación de vida que impactaba en la vida de los participantes. Por eso se realizó una campaña llamada cuarentena saludable y fue bien significativo que algunos participantes de la escuela se ofrecieron de voluntarios para poder ser parte de esta campaña. Algunos líderes o participantes de la escuela son psicólogas o estudian psicología, fueron las primeras en anotarse en esta campaña de cuarentena saludable. De sentirse útiles, partes, parte importante de apoyo emocional. El otro aspecto que también consideró la escuela de líderes fue el de brindar soporte tecnológico. Dado a que la escuela tuvo que cambiar su modalidad a la modalidad virtual. Entonces nos encontramos con otras limitaciones y brechas. Pues nuestros participantes, no todos tenían la oportunidad de tener acceso a buenos equipos telefónicos o a planes de datos, de megas  qué le llamamos, para poder comunicarse, conectarse. La escuela de líderes, gracias también a la confianza que lazos de corazón dio a nuestros programas, tuvimos que redirigir los recursos para que nuestros participantes puedan tener mejor conectividad también tuvimos que dedicar un gran parte del tiempo en los primeros meses empoderando y capacitándolos en el manejo de redes sociales, aprender a perder el miedo para poder manejar un equipo, un teléfono, una computadora, pues era la única forma de poder mantenerse conectados. Tuvimos que adaptarlo, tuvimos que considerar las situaciones de los participantes puesto que el aislamiento también afectaba su situación económica. Muchos de los participantes sus ingresos económicos es a través del comercio. Un comercio informal, no, en el mercado que existen en Distrito. Entonces todas estas circunstancias de la pandemia fueron considerados, no, como parte importante en este plan para poder ser parte de sus vidas, por ser parte de sus sueños, para que la pandemia no frené el desarrollo. Hay una frase que a nosotros nos animó todo este tiempo de la pandemia a la escuela de líderes y es que si estamos en la pandemia, estamos en aislamiento, pero decíamos también que los derechos ciudadanos no pueden estar en aislamiento. La participación ciudadana como derecho no puede estar confinado. El derecho a vivir dignamente no puede estar en aislamiento. La solidaridad no puede estar en aislamiento. Estas afirmaciones es lo que nos animada mucho y nos anima también ahora para poder como escuela contribuir en su formación, en su capacidad de resiliencia de sobreponerse esta crisis personalmente pero luego para influir también en su comunidad.

ENGLISH TRANSLATION: To train citizens means to train people who are always seeking the development of their own community, in relation to their authorities. When the pandemic arrived, the school of leaders was developing the second year of training for a group of leaders. The pandemic in fact affected us very much. It impacted us. But the first thing we did, as in all the programs at the Centro Santa Ángela , was to reinvent ourselves. We said we can’t stop. We can’t stop. The big problems that Centro Santa Angela responds to cannot be unattended. And the school of leaders has reinvented itself, reinvented how it is carrying out the training and also its way of adapting the curriculum or the topics to these times of the health crisis that we were facing. The school of leaders organized a contingency plan, whose objective was to contribute to personal resilience, to develop, to strengthen the capacity of community members to overcome this crisis, so that they can be resilient agents in the community. So that each person recognizes their own capacities to overcome this difficult situation, so that they can also promote resilience in their own communities, and be capable of overcoming this difficult situation in their environment, with community organizations. For this reason, in the plan that we organized for the school of leaders, a new component that was very important that we had not touched upon until now, was that of providing emotional support. The first months of the pandemic were dedicated to strengthening the emotions, the feelings that this situation caused in the lives of the participants. That is why we carried out a campaign called Healthy Quarantine. It was very significant that some participants from the school volunteered to be a part of this campaign. Some leaders or participants of the school are psychologists or studying psychology. They were the first to sign up for this healthy quarantine campaign, to feel useful and be an important part of providing this emotional support. The other issue that the school of leaders also addressed was to provide technological support. Given that the school had to change its modality to the virtual modality. There we found other limitations and gaps. Our participants did not all have the opportunity to have access to good telephone equipment or data plans in order to communicate and connect with one another. The Centro Santa Angela, thanks also to the trust that Heart- Links feels with us, had to redirect some resources so that our participants could have better connectivity. We also had to dedicate a lot of time in the first months to empowering and training participants in handling social networks, learning to lose their fear of being able to use a device, a telephone, a computer, because it was the only way to be able to stay connected. We had to adapt. We also had to consider the participants’ situation since the lockdown also affected their economic situation. Many of the participants’ income is through commerce, an informal commerce in the market that exists in the district. So all these various circumstances of the pandemic were important considerations that we had to take in order to be able to be a part of the lives of participants, to be a part of their dreams, so that the pandemic would not stop their development. There is one phrase that encouraged us all this time during the pandemic and it is that even if we are living in the pandemic, we are in isolation, citizen’s rights cannot be realized in isolation. Citizen participation as a right cannot be confined. The right to live with dignity cannot be in isolation. Solidarity cannot be in isolation.  These affirmations are what encouraged us a lot and encourage us now to be able, as a school, to contribute to their development, their resilience to overcome this crisis personally but then to influence also our community.

Ruth: When the pandemic first hit, by the time lockdown started here in Canada, our offices were closed, I moved home. And I think for many in our organization, who are all volunteers, the question is what can we do now? What’s going to happen in Peru? Because Peru was about a month behind Canada in terms of the first cases of COVID. And so we knew from what was happening in Canada that this was going to hit Peru and knowing that the places where our organization works, there’s poor infrastructure, there is quite a lot of corruption at different levels of government, there’s a great deal of poverty, there’s a great deal of informality in the workforce, all of these things suggested that when the virus hit, it would be very bad. And it has been very bad. In Peru, I think, currently, Peru ranks third in the world in terms of covid related deaths per population. They have been under a national emergency since March, students have been out of school the entire time, having to do school from home via television, or radio, or if they have it, the internet, but even those things for many people are not available. And then also for older students, college level students, the need to work, the need to make some money has meant that even if there is some sort of schooling available, they’re not going to school. The lockdown was very fierce, so it meant that people couldn’t move from their town, say to another place. So for example, in one place that we work, there’s no bank there, the only doctors there are from the big city. And so when lockdown happened there, their health unit was left without any medical staff, they couldn’t go to a bank, you had to get a special permit to do these things. So the isolation that Erla talks about was a huge economic and psychological burden for so many people. So back to Heart-Links and what we were doing, we knew things were going to be bad in Peru, we thought, well, what can we do to help? And very early on, our Board of Directors decided that for monies already committed, monies already received by our partners for specific projects, that those monies should be freed up, that we should say to our partners, you know, the money that you’ve already received for projects, use it how you best think it should be used. So if there are new needs, if there are emerging needs, and money needs to be redirected to that, do it. If things need to be adapted, things need to be changed, if objectives need to be changed, then do that. So for us, it was important to trust our partners, to know that as we have always known in our relationship with them, to know that they are the ones who are on the ground, they are the ones who know their communities, they are the ones who know the needs, and they are the ones who are in the best position to be able to meet those needs and to meet the situation that they’re facing and to find a way forward. Our role as partners is to support that. It’s to provide encouragement, to provide solidarity, moral support, and to provide resources. In the case of the Leadership School, it was great to see how well they were able to adapt to the situation and to follow those, as Erla says, strengthening the people themselves, the participants in the program, taking care of people’s emotions, their mental health, that you can’t leave that to one side, you have to attend to that in the same way you have to attend to people’s needs. So you know, in terms of partnership, that was the approach that Heat-Links took. 

Erla in Spanish: Mira, la confianza consideró que es un factor muy clave en todo tipo de relación y con lazos de corazón, hemos sentido todo este tiempo que realmente es una relación que nos da no sólo el apoyo económico, este la solidaridad económica sí es bien importante básico para sostener nuestros programas es cierto por a, pero está solidaridad económica para nosotras tiene mayor trascendencia porque sentimos que no sólo nos apoyan económicamente sino que nos da, nos acompañan. Ese estilo que tienen de dar ánimo, de creer en nuestros sueños, en nuestras acciones, de creer también en lo que podemos lograr juntos, juntas. Esté estilo de trabajo que tiene lazos de acompañarnos de escuchar de preguntarnos, de interesarse por qué no solamente como estamos cumpliendo las metas, nos preguntan cómo estamos, eso es bien significativo para nosotros. En un contexto que vivimos en nuestro país donde la confianza cada vez está menos – realmente la confianza en los políticos, la confianza en las personas nos está costando en el Perú reconstruir la. Y por eso la confianza que sentimos y que se genera con lazos, realmente es muy potente para nosotros, en relación cuando también he podido y observar la relación que hay con otros cooperantes. Para nosotros lazos es como que está empezando a tejer también  este sentido de nuevas relaciones. Al inicio de la pandemia lazos de corazón nos envió una carta, una carta que la recibimos con alegría y esperanza, pues su carta decía que frente a la situación que estamos viviendo en la pandemia ellos nos daban la libertad, la autorización de redirigir los recursos a las necesidades o efectos de la pandemia. Sólo este gesto que puede ser tan simple, pero muy significativo también habla de una confianza financiera, de una confianza en la transparencia. Y una confianza que también quiere lograr, no sólo metas porque están escritas en un documento, sino que queremos lograr cumplir metas resultados de acuerdo también a la realidad que en este momento de la pandemia estamos viviendo. Entonces esta confianza tiene que ver también con el acompañamiento, con el sentido de una solidaridad qué significa ponerse en el lugar de la otra persona.

ENGLISH TRANSLATION: I consider trust to be a key factor in any type of relationship and with Heart Links we have felt all this time that it is a relationship that not only gives us economic support, economic solidarity, which is very important to sustain our programs. But this economic solidarity for us has greater significance because we feel that not only do they support us economically, but they also really accompany us. That style they have of giving encouragement, of believing in our dreams, in our actions, of believing also in what we can achieve together. This style of partnership that Heart Links has – to accompany us, listen to us, ask us, and be interested in not only how we are fulfilling our goals, but also they ask us how we are feeling, and that is very significant for us. In the context that we live in our country where there is less and less trust in politicians – trust in people is hard for us in Peru to rebuild. And that is why the trust we feel and which is generated with Heart Links, is really very powerful for us – compared also to what I have been able to observe in relationships with other development partners. At the beginning of the pandemic, Heart Links sent us a letter, a letter that we received with joy and hope, because their letter said that in the face of the situation that we are living in the pandemic they were giving us freedom, the authorization to redirect resources to the new needs or effects of the pandemic.This gesture alone, which may be simple, was very significant. It also speaks of a financial trust, a trust in transparency. And a trust that also wants us to achieve goals not just because they are written in a document, but to achieve goals and results that correspond to the reality that we are living in at this time of the pandemic. So this trust also has to do with companionship, with a sense of solidarity that means putting oneself in the other person’s place.

Safa: In addition to the stress and challenges of living in a pandemic, Peru also faced a political crisis in recent months that added another layer of challenge and complexity to the lives and work of Erla and her colleagues. 

Ruth: And in the case of Peru, they faced a shrinking of their economy, the economy was very hard hit by the pandemic and by the lockdown. And then in the last quarter of the year, they faced a major political crisis. So this crisis led to the ouster of the president and left the country for a day or so without any president at all. I think  the population mostly viewed it as a power grab by congress, pushing the president out of power. But what was most remarkable was the response of the population. So the population immediately people spoke out, people stood up, there were protests and these protests and the people speaking out were mostly young people and women who were at the head of the voices who were speaking out to defend the democratic order in the country, to defend the rule of law and governance. And this popular uprising eventually convinced the politicians at the top to – well, it forced them back down. And so a new president was selected, who will continue the term until elections in April. And in speaking with people from Centro Santa Angela, one of the comments was we thought maybe the young people were sleeping, but no, they all woke up, and look at what they accomplished! They defended our democracy, they defended a new type of leadership that is transparent, a leadership that responds to the population, to their citizens. A leadership that isn’t just in it for personal gain. And I think that’s the kind of leadership that the Centro Santa Angela Leadership School is creating, it’s leadership that’s not authoritarian, it’s leadership that is not corrupt. It’s leadership that is committed to improving the lives of people in their community. They’re developing regular folks, people in their communities, old, young, men, women, to develop the skills and the knowledge for being good leaders. But even more importantly the habits, the style of being a leader, the kind of leader you would be. And I think that that’s a, you know, it’s a really worth worthwhile investment. To invest in people, to strengthen their potential, to accompany them on this journey to develop a different kind of leadership. And so the crisis in Peru, I think, you know, it was a great example of the kind of leadership you don’t want. And the Leadership School is a great example of the kind of leaders you do want. And the kind of leaders that Peru deserves, that every community deserves. 

Erla in Spanish: A pesar de lo difícil que es la situación, desde la escuela de líderes también estamos mirando lo como una oportunidad, esta crisis política. Pues ha empezado a emerger el poder que tiene la ciudadanía. En medio de todas estas dificultades y crisis, realmente ha habido junto con los jóvenes, se ha podido levantar la voz, de protesta, de inconformidad a esta situación que vive en nuestro país. Las calles se han vuelto un nuevo escenario para poder hacer presente ahí nuestra disconformidad. La protesta es un derecho, entonces hemos retomado valores fundamentales en cuanto a derechos ciudadanos. Esta es una oportunidad que nos está dando y justamente con alegría y esperanza vemos también que emergido el protagonismo de los jóvenes, de la juventud, una generación nueva, cansada de tanto discurso político teoría y sobre todo de actos de corrupción como es conocido en nuestro país y que tiene esta imagen seguramente a nivel internacional. Y por eso es que hemos visto con alegría toda la esta protesta, esta salida a las calles que realmente este derecho a la protesta ha logrado influir en cambios. Para la escuela de líderes también tiene un significado. Pues que cada vez el poder de la ciudadanía, se siente con más fuerza, entonces reafirmamos nosotras como equipo en la escuela, de que cobra mayor importancia de seguir impulsando contribuyendo a formar liderazgos con estilos diferentes, romper esos estilos tradicionales que viene siendo a veces el ejercicio del liderazgo. Entonces la escuela, lo que busca es contribuir a formar líderes con estilos éticos, democráticos y transformadores. Esos son las tres características del perfil de liderazgo que busca la escuela. Y como escuela contribuimos a que este liderazgo se ha ejercido en forma integral. Es decir en todas las dimensiones que tiene la persona , el dirigente, que sea un buen líder, no sólo en su organización afuera en la sociedad, sino que también empiece desde adentro, a nivel personal, a nivel familiar, como estudiante, como trabajador. Es lo que promovemos. Un liderazgo integral.

ENGLISH TRANSLATION: Despite how difficult the situation is, from the school of leaders we are also looking at this political crisis as an opportunity. The power of the citizenry has begun to emerge. In the midst of all these difficulties and crises, there has really emerged, together with the young people, a voice of protest and discontent with the situation in our country. The streets have become a new stage for us to make our discontent heard. Protesting is a right, so we have taken up this fundamental value regarding citizen’s rights.This is an opportunity that is being given to us and it is precisely with joy and hope that we also see the emergence of the leadership of the youth, a new generation, who are tired of so much theoretical political discourse and above all tired of the acts of corruption known in our country locally and internationally. And that is why we have viewed with joy this entire protest, this going out to the streets, that this right to protest has really managed to provoke change. For the school of leaders it also has significance. Because the power of the citizenry is felt more and more strongly, so we reaffirm as the staff of the school – that now it is more important than ever to continue promoting and contributing to the development of leadership with a different style, to break those traditional styles that have sometimes been the hallmarks of leadership. So the school, what it seeks to contribute to, is developing leaders in an ethical, democratic and transformational style. These are the three characteristics of the leadership profile promoted by the school. And as a school, we want this leadership to be exercised in an integrated and holistic manner. That is, in all dimensions of the person, the leader – that he or she be a good leader, not only in his or her organization in society, but also that he or she leads well from within, on a personal level, on a family level, as a student, as a worker. This is what we promote. A holistic leadership.

Safa: As is well known, the coronavirus pandemic has disproportionately impacted the lives of women and girls. Here is Erla sharing more details about the gendered impact of the pandemic in Jose Leonardo Ortiz. 

Erla in Spanish: En relación a la pandemia, consideramos que el aislamiento está significando riesgos para las mujeres, para las niñas, para las adolescentes. Hemos analizado y sentimos las mujeres, aunque estemos como informó y formadas, pero el hecho de ser mujeres siempre tiene un impacto toda crisis diferenciada. Por ejemplo sentimos y hemos visto y hemos escuchado que el aislamiento está significando multiplicar la carga de trabajo para las mujeres. Aunque ahora todos están en la misma familia, pero hemos constatado y sentimos que siempre se recarga el trabajo para las mujeres, para las niñas, para las adolescentes, quienes ahora las niñas y las adolescentes están alejadas de la escuela, están aprendiendo en casa como se dice Acá está política, pero en la casa está tambien, de todas las personas cerca a las niñas de las mujeres que realmente también hay un riesgo ahi de ser violentadas. Y es alto los casos en el Perú, pero especialmente en nuestra región y en nuestro Distrito, que las mujeres, las niñas, las adolescentes viven con un riesgo de abuso sexual incluso. Los casos de violencia, no se Han detenido con la pandemia, con la cuarentena. Al contrario, se han hecho más visibles. Se notan más los casos de abuso, de embarazo en adolescentes. Este tiempo de confinamiento está significando un riesgo por qué hay mayor cercanía de las niñas, de las mujeres, de las jóvenes con sus agresores, con sus abusadores. La violencia es otro tipo de pandemia para las mujeres que necesita también un tiempo y políticas de largo alcance para poder erradicar. Este problema de la violencia en las niñas en las mujeres es también una preocupación de la escuela de líderes, una preocupación del centro Santa Ángela, por eso también tenemos ahí un programa. Digamos tratando de contribuir con el empoderamiento de las mujeres, como digo eso un problema grande, nosotros decimos es un monstruo grande que necesita realmente muchas aristas, muchas puertas de entrada para poder contribuir a disminuir este problema en las niñas, en las mujeres.

ENGLISH TRANSLATION: In relation to the pandemic, we believe that isolation is putting women, girls and teenagers at risk. We have analyzed and we feel as women, that the fact that we are women means that we are impacted differently in any crisis. For example, we feel and have seen and heard that isolation is multiplying the workload for women. Even though now everyone is in the same household, we have seen and feel that the workload is always being put on women, on girls, on teenagers, who are now out of school, they are learning at home, but at home, with all the people close to the girls and women, there is now a greater risk of sexual violence. And there is a high number of cases in Peru, but especially in our region and in our District, that women, girls, teens live with a risk of sexual abuse. The cases of violence have not stopped with the pandemic, with the lockdown. On the contrary, they have become more visible. Cases of abuse, of teenage pregnancies, are more noticeable. This time of lockdown is posing a risk because there is greater proximity of girls, women, and young women to their aggressors, to their abusers. Violence is another type of pandemic for women that needs lots of time and far-reaching policies to be eradicated. This problem of violence against girls and women is also a concern of the school of leaders, a concern of the centro Santa Ángela, which is why we also have a programme there where we are trying to contribute to the empowerment of women. It is a big problem, we say it is a big monster that really needs many efforts, many doors of entry to be able to contribute to diminish this problem in girls, in women.

Safa: One of the women leaders in the school is Nélida Urrutia. Nelida has used her new skills to help her community. With the support of a psychologist, she had organized a series of virtual workshops for women to raise their self-esteem, help them make decisions and resolve conflicts, and encourage them to take a more active role in their community. Here is Nelida explaining how the leadership school has impacted her life.  

Nelida in Spanish: Le ha dado un gran significado a mi vida, por ejemplo, el haberme dado cuenta de cuánto valgo como persona, como mujer, como hija y como madre porque sus cursos de autoestima lograron profundizar mucho en mí. En mi liderazgo como ciudadana el poder ayudar a otras personas de mi entorno, ya sea Familiar o comunitario, el poder desenvolverme con más facilidad ante las situaciones que vivimos como sociedad, a la vez compartir con ellos las enseñanzas que nos brindaron en la escuela de líderes. Hicimos grandes amistades entre jóvenes y adultos. Fue una gran experiencia maravillosa, la que viví y si me dijeran ¿volvieras a esta escuela? Creanme que no lo dudaría ni un segundo.Mi participación en la escuela de líderes, creo yo fue un giro de 360° algo así, porque me ayudó a cambiar mi forma de ver la vida. Yo fui criada en un mundo machista en la cual imperaba la voz y voluntad del hombre. Bueno, eso es lo que reflejaba en mi hogar, cuando en realidad nunca debió ser así. Desde entonces hice respetar mis derechos como mujer y como parte de la sociedad. Mi compromiso ahora es lo de crear un mundo donde existen las mismas oportunidades para todos y sobre todo un Perú justo y democrático.

ENGLISH TRANSLATION: It’s given my life great meaning – for example their courses on self-esteem have had a deep impact on me and have made me realize how much I am worth as a person – as a woman, as a daughter and as a mother. As a citizen leader, I am able to help others around me, whether family or community, and deal more easily with the situations we live in as a society – I also share with them the teachings they gave us in the school of leaders. We made great friendships between young people and adults. It was a great experience, if they asked me if I would go back to this school, believe me I would not doubt it for a second. My participation in the School or Leaders was a 180 degree turn around because it helped me change the way I saw the world.I was raised in a chauvinistic and sexist world in which the voice and will of men prevailed. That is what was reflected in my home – when in fact it should never have been like that. Since then I want to respect my rights as a woman and as part of society. My commitment now is to create a world where there are equal opportunities for all and above all a Peru that is just and democratic.

Safa: Through all the challenges of the past months, the partnership between Heart- Links and Centro Santa Angela has adapted and been an important and continuous pillar of support. 

Ruth: Heart-Links pursues a model of international cooperation and solidarity that is built on relationships of trust, mutual respect, horizontal relationships. The pandemic has shown, I think to the world, the importance of flexibility, the importance of being able to adapt, of not being sort of locked in one particular way of doing things. But in order to be able to adapt, there has to be flexibility in the partnership, there has to be flexibility around funding, there has to be flexibility around project goals, or what shape a project takes. There has to be leeway. And I think that requires a degree of trust. Heart-Links from the beginning has always believed that the knowledge is in the communities. That people in the communities, they know their communities, they know the problems that they face, and they’re in the best position to be able to take the steps to overcome those problems. One of the main obstacles they face is resources, and another is support. So those are two things that we at Heart-Links can provide, or at least to a degree. So our approach has always been that our partners take the lead in deciding what needs to be done. And we’re there to accompany, to have that conversation about how we might go about overcoming a particular problem. But in the end, it’s our partners who have the lead in that and it’s our job to listen and to support and to accompany. I think in the world, that is an approach we need more of. Sometimes people say to me, somebody comes to me and says, you know, I really want to help, I really want to help. But I think a first step to helping is listening and opening your mind and letting your mind be changed. And that’s part of what we do at Heart-Links too. Where in our conversations with our partners, we also have conversations with other Canadians. And if we’re talking about changing the world or making a more just world then I think that we’re talking about changing the kind of relationships we have. What we often have are relationships that are exploitative, we often have relationships that are harmful to people in other parts of the world or to places in other parts of the world. So, to me, it’s about changing the relationship. It’s about a relationship that is built on mutual respect, on mutual goals, that is supportive, that is beneficial. That’s what we pursue at Heart-Links and I think it has been effective. Heart-Links is very much focused on the people to people, so we’re a small organization, we’re a grassroots organization and I guess one thing I feel really good about with Heart-Links is that it can show how even a small group of people can just decide to reach out to people in another place and to build relationship – and that that relationship can produce great.

Erla in Spanish: El estilo nos encanta mucho, el estilo de solidaridad, la forma cómo se desarrolla esta solidaridad económica. Creo que es bien importante  cómo se vas tejiendo estas nuevas relaciones de lazos, de amistad, de fraternidad, creo que lazos de corazón hace también muy bien honor a su nombre, porque la relación es de corazón a corazón. Digamos poner en práctica de conseguir juntos acciones, visiones, eso desarrollamos juntos acciones, pero hay una visión ahí compartimos el sentido de justicia, de desarrollo, pleno de bienestar de las personas. Hay un espíritu ahí de de ambas partes de respeto, de escucha, hay un interés enorme de escucharnos, de crecimiento mutuo. Yo creo que crecemos mutuamente, es tanto los mismos participantes de nuestros programas, del centro Santa Ángela y lazos de corazón. Con esta forma, este estilo de la relacionarnos, yo creo que estamos creciendo en mutualidad. En nuestro planeta, tanto en Perú como en Canadá, hay una tarea de permanente de transformar nuestra realidad, nuestro planeta. En el Perú hay muchos desafíos para transformar esta realidad, para que haya más oportunidades de desarrollo, pero también consideró que en Canadá también probable hay situaciones que necesitan ser cambiadas. Creo que hay una tarea compartida, de sentirnos que somos parte de un planeta que necesitamos. Cada uno en el lugar donde está y la posición donde está, contribuir a la transformación de este mundo.

ENGLISH TRANSLATION: We love the style, the style of solidarity, the way this economic solidarity is developed. I think it is very important how you weave these new relationships and bonds of friendship, of fraternity. I think that heart links really honours its name, because the relationship is from heart to heart. To put into practice, to achieve actions and visions together. We develop actions together, but there is a vision there as well. We share a sense of justice, of the full development of people’s well-being. There is a spirit there on both sides of respect, of listening – there is an enormous interest in listening to each other, of mutual growth. I believe that we both grow mutually, both the participants of our programs at the centro Santa Ángela and heart Links. In this manner, in this relationship style, I believe that we are both growing. On our planet, in Peru as much as in Canada, there is a permanent task of transforming our reality, our planet. In Peru, there are many challenges to transform this reality, there are many opportunities for development, but I also believe that in Canada there are also likely to be situations that need to be changed. I believe that this is a shared task, of feeling that we are part of a planet that we need to support. Each one in the place where they are and the position where they are – can contribute to the transformation of this world.

Safa (outro): As Erla says, sustainable development is a shared task that we are all called to contribute to in our own ways.  To connect with Heart- Links Lazos de Corazon and Centro Santa Angela, you can visit the website https://www.heart-links.org/ , follow them on social media and feel free to send them a message of support. 

Thank you to all our wonderful guests for sharing their story with us today. Make sure to tune in to the next episode of the Tapestry 2030 podcast as we continue to share other stories from our OCIC membership community.

The Ontario Council for International Cooperation  is an expanding community of members working for global social justice, human dignity and participation for all.  Join us! Visit https://test.ocic.on.ca/ to learn more. 

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