Last week, Erla Hoyos, of Centro Santa Angela, was invited by Peru’s Ministry of Education to speak on their Facebook Live channel about the Centre and its programs and, in particular, about the Leadership School funded by Hear-Links donors.

As part of a Ministry-sponsored series called “Community Experiences for Living Well,” Erla shared the school’s aims and its many achievements. “I believe citizen engagement is both a right and an opportunity and that development doesn’t depend on government alone, but on citizens, too,” she says. “That’s why I think it’s increasingly vital for community organizations to add to their training both citizenship and engagement in public affairs.”

A group of children in masks, some standing, others sitting on the floor, one holding a poster about reading
Reading program led by Leadership School students.

Women and men who attend the school span ages from late teens to over 65. “The intergenerational aspect is so important,” says Erla. “Leadership development should be ongoing, it’s lifelong. It needs programs that prepare leaders for the present and the future.”

Students learn about self-esteem, personal development, gender rights, informed voting, government structures, accessing public information, interpreting sources, and monitoring government policy and actions, among other topics.

To put their leadership into action, a final projects asks student leaders to design and carry out initiatives that will benefit their people in their immediate surroundings—whether their home, their neighbourhood or their place of work.

The pandemic brought with new challenges, such as going virtual and adding modules that focused on mental health. But it also presented some opportunities. The school now receives students from well beyond it’s base in José Leonardo Ortiz, for example.

A group from Piura has been particularly active. For their community initiative they are running a program called “Adopt a Tree” to teach people in their community about all the things trees do for us and help them plant and care for a tree of their own.

These are some of the other intiatives students are leading:

  • a program to share games and tools to promote literacy and reading among school children at Colegio Fanny Abanto Calle in José Leonardo Ortiz
  • an online mutual support group to help people manage stress and care for their mental health
  • a series of workshops with college student on how we can reduce our ecological footprint
  • organizing a bridage to clean up Pimental beach, just outside Chiclayo

You can watch the program below (Spanish only). Erla’s presentation starts at approximately 4:30 minutes.