We are getting used to the traffic and the scenery here in Lima. The city centre was busy today as we drove through it, filling each tiny space as it appeared and making spaces where there were none. One can’t be a shy driver in Lima.
This time we drove through the other side of the city and the roads became less busy, less concrete and less flat. The taller, more tightly packed buildings gave way to hill sides of smaller, more fragile houses. We all drew breath when our car turned onto a street presenting us with a virtual arena of very basic housing.
Our destination was a maternity clinic where IES, (The Institute of Education and Health) supports a programme for vulnerable young people in response to worrying rates of HIV in Peru. The programme basically centres around a drop-in centre plus ongoing support and advise in whatever issues the young person brings, providing a forum for confidential discussion in any personal or emotional matter. The very impressive part of our visit was meeting some young adults who are trained to counsel and advise other young people which not only provides approachability but also role models. The general theme of this centre was to build self esteeem, responsiblity, knowledge and self-awareness in an area where drugs and abusive family relationships can leave young people in somewhat vulnerable positions. The sense of young people wanting to make a differnce in their local community was really impressive and actually pioneering.
The most impressive thing for me (Martin) was the young people involved in the projects. IES have trained young peeir ople to be advocates in their communities, monitoring what services are available in their areas, whether people know about the services and whether they use them. Using this information they lobby the local government in order that these services are provided. The young people we met were incredibly confident, intelligent, knowledgeable and proactive about ensuring other young people have the support they need.
One big need in the area is training for businesses. It is a story we’ve heard several times – that when people leave school there aren’t many job opportunities and what the people need is a source of income. CAFOD have been supporting IES, working with EDUCA and Solidaridad (see other blogs), to provide training, seed money and enable young people to support themselves and help with their family income. Once again I was filled with confidence that if these young people were a sign of things to come then we will do alright.