Volunteering in Lima: My trip to CIMA

PeruVolunteering
April 30, 2013

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Last week I had the good fortune of visiting the non-profit CIMA with the Canadian International Society, an expat group here that has supported this organization since it’s inception 25 years ago.  CIMA provides assistance to 8-18 year old boys who live on the streets or find themselves in high-risk situations.  The boys choose to come to CIMA of their own free will and may leave at any time.

CIMA does its best to meet the boys’ needs for housing, food, education, affection and healthcare with the hope of  re-integrating them back into their homes and society at age 18.  The staff diligently models teamwork, discipline, commitment and respect and channels the boys’ energy into a multitude of activities including music, sports, farming, art, woodworking and much, much more.

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The picture at the top is the art studio, where the boys produce products that are sold to the public. This is one of many examples of how CIMA teaches them to contribute to their community, whether it be through producing the food they eat, preparing the meals or creating goods to sell.  Not only do these endeavors increase their confidence, but the boys also leave CIMA with a wide variety of skills to use for employment in their adult life.

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When our group arrived, we were greeted by the director Jean-Louis, a Canadian who founded this organization 25 years ago after seeing an abundance of homeless children hanging out near the Plaza de Armas in downtown Lima.  He began by acquainting us with the facilities and then we were treated to a musical performance by the boys.

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The entire group sang a song for us and then a smaller band performed.

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The band was something created by the music department, which is run by two Alums of CIMA.  I expected something akin to my 6th grade concert band, but what we got instead was a professional-quality performance.  This kid pictured above with the windpipe was absolutely PHENOMENAL.

Watch them rock it out in this amazing video!
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I was fortunate enough to get asked to dance by this cute little guy.  He was brave enough to ask, but lost his courage once he got to the dance floor.  This prompted one of the older boys to jump in and carry on with me.  Such a fun experience!  I can’t wait to return with Nick and Nia.

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I leave you with a picture of the guinea pig (or cuy) pens.  There were roughly 250 guinea pigs at the moment, all of which will be food for the boys in the coming weeks.  Just in case you were wondering, they will participate in killing, butchering and cooking the cuy.  I’m all about self-sufficiency and learning new skills, but I draw the line at killing my own food…

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