Oye LENA is an educational project located in Curahuasi, Peru in the heart of the Andes mountain range at an altitude of 2,600 metres. It was founded on 15 April 2012 and has been an officially registered NGO in Peru since 8 February 2013.
Oye LENA is short for “Oye Loquitas EN Acción!” which freely translated means: “Listen up, we are taking action!”
Oye LENA tries to tackle poverty and social inequality through quality education. Every child has the right to a quality education, focused on personality development, regardless of their own capabilities and limitations and regardless of the place and culture in which they grow up. Children from underprivileged families and ethnic minorities, children with a disability and children in rural areas should have the same opportunities as others.
Oye LENA consists of four educational projects, that actually form one entity.
- Oye NIÑOS, afterschool EDUCATIONAL project,
- Oye JUNTOS, children with or without a disability TOGETHER
- Oye LOCAL, a partnership with the LOCAL population to work towards better education
- OYE MUNDO: Create WORLD citizens out of volunteers
Every afternoon since February 2013, Oye NIÑOS has been offering education to 25 toddlers, especially girls, in a school on the outskirts of Curahuasi. Thanks to the project’s location, we can reach more children who live in the countryside and do not go to regular schools. The children receive a hot meal, and visits to the doctor and the dentist are organised regularly.
We made a conscious choice to focus on girls in our nursery project, because they still receive fewer opportunities in society and because considerably fewer girls go to nursery schools. We want to break this pattern.
Children who came to Oye LENA as a toddler and are now in primary education are also welcome at the project every afternoon. They receive homework support from Monday to Thursday and are given extra support for reading, arithmetic, spelling, …. On Friday, we provide them with a fun activity!
We are convinced that participation and involvement of parents is of the utmost importance. We try to stimulate this by involving them in the project’s daily activities on the one hand and by organising organising monthly parent-teacher conferences on the other hand. We organise organise workshops in which parents learn how to stimulate their children and their development every day. However, there is also time left to talk about education and upbringing in general, the difficulties that come with it and the importance of health and healthy food. Moreover, we encourage parents to enroll their children in nursery schools and we help them find one.
Since August 2014, we have been welcoming children with a disability in our classrooms. Every day, a couple of children with varying mental and motor disabilities join our toddlers and participate in the activities. The number of children has increased steadily over the years and at this moment we work with fourteen children with a disability: three with Down’s syndrome, two visually impaired, three with cerebral palsy, two children with a mental disability, three boys with autism and a girl with foetal alcohol syndrome. In the mornings, they get individual education and special activities, such as physiotherapy, Sherborne therapy, controlled multisensory environment therapy (snoezelen), etc.
Through inclusive education we teach our toddlers (as well as the disabled kids) tolerance; responsibility towards each other, respect for and the value of differences.
We also organise a Siblings’ Day every month, with the brothers and sisters of the disabled kids, in order to enhance the relationship between the siblings, give psychological support if necessary and involve the family.
Oye LOCAL tries to enhance contacts with the local population and local organisations. On the one hand, Oye LENA wants to address educational topics and exchange working methods, and on the other hand it wants to work together with health organisations organisations towards the child’s full development. The aim is to exchange know-how, materials and experiences.
The intention of the meetings with educational institutions is to create a mix of Peruvian and Western education methods which is relevant for our specific target group: children who speak a different language at home and children whose parents are low-skilled, do not recognise recognise the importance of education and do not stimulate the development of their child.
We also want to safeguard the health of our kids together with local health organizations (Centro de Salud & Diospy Suyana hospital). In practice, this mostly means dental care and avoiding malnutrition and anaemia, but we also intervene in the event of acute illness or accidents. A child can only be happy and learn when he or she has a healthy body.
Moreover, we go to an orphanage in Cachora every month, where two of our former pupils were left behind by their mother. We make sure the whole group of kids there have a fun afternoon, we show them that we are there for them, that they can count on us and that they can trust us.
Oye Lena works mainly with volunteers: people from all over the world who help out for a while. These volunteers are key figures: thanks to them, every day we are able to do what we want to do for or with our children. We want to give these volunteers something in return.
We not only want to give them the love and smiles of our children, we also want them to experience how things can be different, we want to give them values that are not always well-respected by all (respect, honesty, team spirit, positivity ). We also want to open their eyes, “fill their backpacks” with images and ideas that will last forever so that they can go home richer and carry this message out. In this way, we slowly build a network of ambassadors of Oye Lena, a group of world citizens who choose to be consciously aware and to help to make our world a better place.