Thursday, December 13, 2007

Fall Update


Great news from Huachipa!

The paint is dry, the windows are installed, and the doors are now open at the new library in Colegio Alto Peru. After several months of setbacks and delays, negotiations with Telefónica, school meetings, and two earthquakes, the library is ready for the kids. Thus far, SOLAC has been able to raise several thousand dollars for the kids in Huachipa, not to mention innumerable in-kind donations. Though we have said this many times before, we at SOLAC cannot thank you enough for the generous contribution and well-wishes we have received throughout the undertaking of this project.

Now that the construction is done, we are continuing on into the implementation phase. We will be stocking the building with books, furniture, and school supplies in the upcoming months. But first... a Christmas party! There will be small gifts, panet
ón (delicious sweet-bread), and something resembling a clown. This promises to be a lot of fun, and photos are forthcoming.

Now that December has rolled around, it is time to start looking towards another summer volunteer program in 2008. This past year's group of volunteers from colleges around the USA and England had an incredible impact on the children and community in Huachipa. The volunteers conducted tutoring sessions in math and Spanish, led an art group for the youngest students, took the children on field trips to museums, and cooked a healthy lunch 3 times each week. June is still 7 months away, but we want to begin spreading the word about Asociación SOLAC and the community of Huachipa. If you or anyone you know is interested in coming down to Peru between June and August, please contact Mike Quinzio ( Starting in January, we will begin formal recruiting.

We wish everyone a happy holiday,


Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Santa Cruz de Flores


In the aftermath of the earthquake that struck southern Peru in mid-August, SOLAC has attempted to provide a little relief to those who have yet to benefit from the government's emergency response. The communities we have selected are rural, and in sometimes hard to reach places. Our first effort happened in Santa Cruz de Flores, about 80km south of Lima along the Panamerican Highway.

Santa Cruz is a small agricultural community of a little over a thousand families. The earthquake destroyed the homes of several hundred of these families, many of whom were already living in poorly constructed homes, leaving them exposed to the elements with very little in the way of resources for reconstruction.

In the hopes of aiding in any possible way, SOLAC teamed up with two employees of a Lima hospital to bring essential supplies to the newly homeless families. Materials brought included: tarps (to combat weather), blankets, clothes, mattresses, cooking materials (e.g. oil, flour, sugar, rice, etc.), and toilet paper. The team set off in an old VW bus filled to the brim with supplies, and after minor mechanical issues, arrived in Santa Cruz in the early afternoon. A quick meeting with the mayor ended with him volunteering to drive two team-members around to familiarize them with the most affected areas.

While half of the team began distributing relief materials, the others focused on bringing a little cheer to the town's children. Piñatas, facepaints, dodgeball, and many other games made their way to the central plaza. The festivities lasted all afternoon, and proved to be every bit as exhausting for the SOLAC volunteers as the relief effort.

As dusk arrived, the team emptied the last of the gear into the hands of a few remaining families, and began the trip back.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

August Update with Videos


The roof has been completed! We worked into the night on July 30th pouring all the concrete, and now it sits to dry for 15 days. Then we will move on to electrical installations, painting, and other such details. Fortunately, Mr. Caceres, our contractor, has offered to take care of all of the logistics with his own men. A huge weight off our shoulders. Rest assured that photos of the finished building are forthcoming.

Tutoring for the past semester ended in a dance party before the kids took off for vacations this month. Through contacts with an American school in Lima, Colegio Franklin Delano Roosevelt, we've secured a group of volunteers who will come out to the school once per week until December. However, we're still looking for volunteers to help one or two additional days per week from late August through December, so be sure to pass on the word to potentially interested parties.

Lastly, we've added a video page to the website. The main video is a short documentary, about 10 minutes, which outlines the volunteer program and provides some context for the project in Alto Peru. It was produced by a good friend of ours, Carlos Cardenas. He also produced a 2 minute video for the UVa students who helped paint the playground. On the last page we've posted a few short clips from around the school.

Check out the videos.

As always, we would love to hear any feedback; drop us a line at


David Goodman
Michael Quinzio
Jose Luis Incio

Monday, July 9, 2007

July Update


We are happy to report that the Colegio Alto Peru library construction is in full swing. What we thought would be a relatively simple roof installation turned into a huge renovation when we found out the government recently created new regulations for school building. After months of haggling with engineers, attending meetings, getting price estimates for materials, we are now close to completing construction. We have teamed up with Telefónica, a Spanish telecommunications firm, to provide the library with a multi-media center. They agreed to cover the costs of making a computer lab, fully equipped with machines and internet. This is a tremendous opportunity for a community where a great number of homes still lack running water and electricity.

Our after-school lunch and tutoring program is making a lot of progress with the children. We are working directly with the 4th, 5th, and 6th grade students on mathematics and reading comprehension. As many of the students are far, some severely, behind the national averages in these subjects, this is an especially important and rewarding part of our work. Our volunteers are doing an amazing job bonding with the children and reinforcing these essential skills. We had the additional opportunity to take our students, with some younger ones too, to the Peruvian Naval Museum in Callao (northwest of Lima), an hour-long bus ride to the ocean. Several of the kids had never been to the ocean, so needless to say it was an exciting day from start to finish.

Through our connections at the Pontificia Universidad Católica del Perú and the University of Virginia, we received a donation of painting materials for the school playground. The playground itself was second hand, donated last year and in serious need of a new paint job. Thirty-five exchange students from UVA came out in force to help out, knocking out half of the work in a single day. Though the playground is small, it lies just across the stream from where many of the children work. Painting it is an important symbol for the school and community.

In addition to our work at the school, SOLAC is part of the “Lucha Conta Racismo” (Fight Against Racism), a consortium of NGOs confronting Peru’s complicated racial dynamics and relations, which date back to Spanish Colonization. After several protests and petitions, we had our first major victory in Lima with the temporary closing of a club that is notorious for discriminating against darker-skinned people. It is a huge step in the right direction and even got the attention of the international press. Here is what our friend from the BBC had to say: ‘Racist’ Lima Restaurant Closed

Over the next few weeks we will continue to work with our volunteers on the after school tutoring and we eagerly await the completion of the library and media center. As always, please contact us with any questions, suggestions, or well-wishes. We would love to hear from you.


Michael Quinzio
David Goodman
Jose Luis Incio