Kanchay Wasi Calca

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Kanchay Wasi is a women and children center in Arin, Huandar that provides refuge and assistance to those in need. The center and its ProPeru volunteers enable local women and children to escape domestic violence by encouraging them to take the necessary steps toward independence. The Kanchy Wasi organization also provides young mothers (ages 14-22) with support on a regular basis in the community of Huaran. Volunteers help women to learn and develop artisan skills such as knitting, weaving, crocheting, and screen-printing. The women´s products are then sold at the organization´s own Kanchay Wasi store in Urubamba. In addition to production, the women are also involved with the marketing and promotion processes essential to selling their products. Volunteers also regularly organize and direct English classes, art workshops, intercultural exchanges, health lectures, and physical and emotional therapy sessions for the women. The Kanchay Wasi center provides local children who have been exposed to domestic violence with a safe, enjoyable, and interactive environment. Volunteers organize and orchestrate various games, activities, and crafts for the benefit of the children.


Volunteer Experiences

Vanessa Freije
Internship Dates: Aug. 2- Sept. 15, 2006

Summary of Project:
My job can be best summarized as a position of support to the programs at K´anchay Wasi. The idea is to provide a place of stability and support to both the women and children who attend, so coming daily and developing a rhythm was important. My project was very flexible, and Lily gave me the opportunity to contribute to the programs according to my desires and abilities.

Roles and Responsibilities:
Lily directed me most days, letting me know what I could do to help her. After the first few weeks, I was able to develop more of a rhythm and a specific role in the activities that went on at K´anchay Wasi. Tuesdays and Thursdays, I would plan a small lesson for the children, usually involving math or reading competitions. Monday, Wednesday, Friday I would teach English to the women and help lead group discussions that focused on self esteem. I also began doing research for Lily in the mornings. I contacted NGOs to ask for support, information, or resources and researched organizations similar to ours in Peru to get ideas and contacted them with questions or to gather more information. Additionally, I spent time looking into fair trade organizations that we could work with and sent pictures of the products from K´anchay Wasi to see if we could qualify to work with them. Lily lets volunteers have a pretty free rein, so I had to be pro-active in asking her what research could help and what I could do in addition to going to the shelter two hours everyday. There´s a lot that could be done, but volunteers need to make a conscious effort to find out what it is.

Vision: K´ anchay Wasi was very different from what I had envisioned it to be, and it took me a little while to understand how it functioned and what my role would be in it. When I first came, it seemed unstructured because oftentimes there weren’t group discussions with the women or when the children came, the lessons would be unorganized. At first it seemed like something different happened every time I went. I think it takes a bit of time to get acclimated and to feel like you are a part of the program in K´anchay Wasi because it is heavily based on building relationships with the women and children, which necessarily takes some time to achieve. For this reason, I would definitely recommend that volunteers with K´anchay Wasi stay more than a month and have an intermediate Spanish level. It takes time to figure out what you can offer to the daily proceedings at K´anchay Wasi.