Heart-Links would like to publicly thank the Ontario English Catholic Teachers Association (OECTA) for their contribution to the successful completion of the Esperanza Centre for Alternative Education in Cajamarca. An Educational Aid Grant from OECTA supplied materials for the building’s stairs, floor, doors and windows, bathrooms and water tank.

The Esperanza Centre provides a new and permanent home for the work of our partner ACIES. ACIES offers children in the impoverished urban neighbourhoods of Esperanza and Quiritimayo educational programs that respect and value their Indigenous heritage. Until now, ACIES did this work in space loaned to them in an abandoned market.

Construction of the centre, which began in 2017, saw some setbacks. But last October, members of Heart-Links’ board of directors were present for an informal opening and in January of this year, ACIES and their programs took full possession.

It’s a truly beautiful building that makes use of rainwater and natural sunlight and reflects the Indigenous culture of the region. The children who participate in programs there helped design the fountain and plant the herb garden. The entire neighbourhood, which is made up of rural Indigenous migrants who have come to the city in hope of a better life, see the building as a community hub. Adults, youth and children participate in programs there and contribute to its care.

For ACIES, having a permanent home for their programs has strengthened their organization and inspired more people (university students, for example) to volunteer their time and their skills to creating a more just world.

Both Heart-Links and ACIES are very grateful to OECTA for contributing to this project, which has really brightened the lives of people in this community.