Experiencing Joy in Service

Our group of volunteers with Chimbote artist Richard Jon Castaneda Estrada (far right) who partnered with us on a cultural exchange mural project at a rural preschool here this week.

Now more accustomed to the city of Chimbote, on Thursday May 25th, WGC volunteers split up into three groups to attend to several service projects across the city. 

These included providing a workshop for pre-school teachers regarding several methods in improving the health and educational opportunities for the children of Chimbote, painting a mural at a school on those outskirts of town, and visiting the hospice clinic to evaluate the patients and educate them in regards to their nutritional needs.
 The WGC workshops for over 50 preschool teachers and directors was held in the Centenario Cultural Center built in 2006 for the 100 anniversary of the city of Chimbote. 


It was lovely setting for the workshops, with Peruvian mural art brightening outdoor walls and melodies from music classes filling the air. The mural in the first picture above was painted by Richard and displays a wave, a hand for victory and freedom, and faces of significant people who have made the city of Chimbote better.  

Early childhood teachers in Peru have not had many opportunities for education and development, so Women’s Global Connection provides professional training opportunities for them, usually twice a year. We planned for 15-20 teachers from the Chimbote area but over 50 showed up, so demand is high!


After a bit of adjustment for the large number of attendees, we presented talks on sugar intake, infant nutrition, collaborative learning, and reusing waste in creative ways. Our Incarnate Word Missionary Selena did an excellent job in advertising and WGC workshops seem to have a growing reputation that draws in more people each year.


 Mariel Sanchez, who just graduated from UIW in Nutrition, had made a brochure in Spanish explaining different types of sugar and their advantages and disadvantages. She explained how much sugar is good for children, adolescents, women, and men. Mariel had examples of different types of sugary drinks and a bag of sugar. She did a demonstration putting spoons of sugar into plastic bags indicating how much sugar is in each of the drinks. The audience was quite surprised as they saw how much sugar is in orange juice, bottled sweet tea, Coca-Cola, and the local favorite, Inca Kola. Mariel also added the popular Peruvian drink made with purple corn, Chicha Morada.

 Whether giving workshops on Collaborative Learning for faculty of the University of the Incarnate Word or for Early Childhood teachers in Chimbote, Dr. Brian McBurnett is a master in this area. First, he gets people interacting and enjoying the relationships that they are building. Then he has people try to solve problems individually. It becomes apparent that individual thinking is limited. Brian gives both solid information on the advantages of collaboration in learning and enjoyable opportunities to learn this way.  


 Yasmine Lainez has been involved with care of creation at the University of the Incarnate Word. She is part of the Ettling Center for Civic Leadership and has worked with gardening and other ecological initiatives there. The use of plastics is a critical issue. By 2050 our oceans will have more plastic than fish if we do not make deliberate efforts to stop this tide of waste. Most plastics are used only once and then discarded.


 Yasmine led a workshop on recycling plastic bags into crocheted purses and other things. As the circle of participants connected their small pieces of plastic, it seemed to be an image of connecting our small efforts around the globe. As Women’s Global Connection joins people, all become stronger and the potential of each of us grows.  


Elena Valenzuela, UIW Ph.D. Candidate in Organizational Leadership, has a Bachelor of Fine Arts and has been an art teacher. Her project began in earnest Thursday as she and Richard laid down the foundation for was large mural on the outskirts of town. 


The mural is in one of the preschool classrooms in a school on the edge of Chimbote that Incarnate Word Missionary Selena Mitchell (above) serves in. 


Wall of preschool before the mural…

Completed on Saturday after essentially our whole group pitched in at certain points, it will provide a lot of inspiration to the children in this extremely impoverished area of the city.

Wall after!!


Our great group!

Mariel, Stephanie, and Yasmine have learned about the work of St. James Hospice by working with Incarnate Word Missionary Mark Tribo. In particular, they observed the tube feeding of patients and the particular needs of each of individuals there.

So far the group is learning about both of the hard work that is so necessary for everyone here, as well as the kind spirit and eager nature of the citizens of Chimbote. Stay tuned for more to come…


Blog post by Brian McBurnett, Sr. Martha Ann Kirk, and Nicole Foy

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