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Light and Leadership Initiative


Light and Leadership offers services 2 different communities: women and children. With the kids, we offer before and after school activities for kids before and after school activities. For our women's group, we provide Women's empowerment programs.

We offer programs that will have a direct impact on the women and children of Peru. Light and Leadership's belief is that education is the long-term solution and we want you to be a part of that!



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Yes, I recommend this program

I have volunteered with the light and leadership initiative on 2 separate occasions about 1 year apart. My experience there both times was amazing. Its very clear every day how much of a positive impact is made on the children and the community as a whole. The organization has truly pure desire to help the people of huaycan. They are very transparent about where your money goes when you pay to be a volunteer and live at the volunteer house. There are no inflated fees and hidden attempt to make profit as in some other organizations.
The people in the community get to know you after a while and frequently say hello and converse with you when you are walking around the neighborhood. Living at the volunteer house is also a great way to have a home base while getting used to exploring different areas of Peru. I made great friends at the volunteer house and we took several trips together to different parts of Peru on our days off. When my time as a volunteer was finished on my first visit, I spent the next month backpacking around Peru and felt very comfortable doing so because I had already spent several months living at the volunteer house in Huaycan and became very accustomed to how to get around and do things in Peru. There is definitely a lot of work involved in being a volunteer. Its not just a vacation, but there is plenty of time to have fun also. If you go with desire to work hard and give your best to helping the children and the community you will likely have, as I did, a life changing experience.

What was your funniest moment?
The kids calling me "tomatito" after a bad sunburn
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Yes, I recommend this program

Translated by Go Overseas:

The community of Huaycán has a very interesting history, of which the Initiative of Light and Leadership has begun to be part. It has been 10 years since this NGO has been in the community and over time it has been able to educate children, youth and women in different aspects, empowering them to improve their quality of life and the community.
Being working for a year hand in hand with international, local volunteers and community members has been a wonderful experience. Seeing the impact of educational programs and volunteers in the community is very satisfactory, as well as seeing the growth and development of volunteers from their arrival until their last day is very rewarding, as well as being a great opportunity for cultural exchange.


La comunidad de Huaycán, tiene una historia muy interesante, de la cual la Iniciativa de Luz y Liderazgo ha comenzado a formar parte. Hace ya 10 años que esta ong está en la comunidad y a lo largo del tiempo ha podido educar en diferentes aspectos a niños, jóvenes y mujeres, empoderándolos para mejorar su calidad de vida y la comunidad.
Estar trabajando durante un año de la mano con voluntarios internacionales, locales y miembros de la comunidad ha sido una experiencia maravillosa. Ver el impacto que tienen los programas educativos y los voluntarios en la comunidad es muy satisfactorio, así como ver el crecimiento y desarrollo de los voluntarios desde su llegada hasta su último día es muy gratificante, además de ser una gran oportunidad de intercambio cultural.

What is your advice to future travelers on this program?
For non-Spanish speakers: do not be afraid to expose your self to the real Peruvian culture. Staff, volunteers and participants will be always willing to chat with you even if is by Google translate.
Volunteering ethically with LLI will make a real impact on the life of kids, teens and women in the community, be creative, supportive and have fun.
And do not forget to be part of the Saturday Events at the Teen Center!
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Yes, I recommend this program

Huaycan is a developing economy whose residents have just as much pride in their homes, families, schools and community as anyone else in a wealthier part of the world. LLI understands this and works directly with the community, lives within the community, and deeply respects those within it, as well as the knowledge they hold. Their love for Huaycan is obvious, as is Huaycan's love for LLI. Volunteering with LLI is a very worthwhile experience for anyone who wants to step outside their bubble and experience what developing economies experience as their citizens work towards improving the lives of themselves, their families, their neighborhoods, and the community at large. If you're brave enough to question whether the world you see is but a subset of the larger world, LLI will help you appreciate how much bigger the world really is.

What would you improve about this program?
I see improvements every single time I return......
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Yes, I recommend this program

I worked at a fashion organization near Lima, Peru called Huaywasi. Huaywasi works with 7 local artisans that do different crafts and we support fair wages and education for the woman. At Huaywasi I was a business development intern and I was able to explore all the different aspects that go into running a business. For example I would create social media posts for Instagram or Facebook. I also did a lot of photography and editing for their Shopify website and I learned how to manage the website through Shopify. The team is very small so my opinion and ideas were really appreciated and we all worked well and collaborated together. All of the volunteers are amazing people so it was easy to fit right in and feel comfortable. I would recommend this experience to anyone, even if you are not particularly interested in fashion, this organization has opportunities for everyone to help out.

What is your advice to future travelers on this program?
Because of LLI's location outside of Lima, Huaycan can seem a little dangerous and intimidating. However the staff and security at LLI make you feel safe and secure and they go over all resources that you will need while living in Huaycan. It is a very cool place to live when you feel comfortable and the international and local volunteers you will meet are all incredible and amazing people. LLI can also make your experience very personal for each person and it allows people to cater their experience to whatever they are interested in.
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Yes, I recommend this program

My time with Huaywasi has been an amazing, joyful experience. I am currently a Fashion Merchandising major at my university and throughout my time in my program I have been leaning towards the sustainable and ethical route in the industry. This program really solidified that sustainability and non-profit is what I want to do in the future. Meeting the artisans and visiting them in their homes and getting to know them personally really allowed me to see what non-profit brands do for their artisans. I was also able to apply my classroom knowledge into the really world workplace. From design to marketing, Huaywasi is a small brand that allows you get an overall perspective of how a brand is run. My input was always heard and validated, plus, it is a really cool experience seeing your ideas help a brand and actually being put into action. I would recommend this to all fashion students who are looking for a once in a lifetime adventure and experience.

If you did this all over again, what's one thing you would change?
The longevity of my stay. I wish I registered to stay longer than six weeks.


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Alumni Interviews

These are in-depth Q&A sessions with verified alumni.

Why did you choose this program?

I chose this program because I have a strong fashion for sustainable fashion and I really like the mission of Huaywasi. Huaywasi works with seven local artisans and I liked how small and local this program was.

Since Huaywasi is part of the Light and Leadership Initiative, it was very nice to also be able to teach art classes and get other opportunities to learn, not just about fashion.

What did your program provider (or university) assist you with, and what did you have to organize on your own?

The Light and Leadership Initiative assisted me with putting me in contact with the company's managers and answering any questions that came up along the way. I had to organize my travel plans to Peru, but LLI provided airport pick up and a tour of Huaycan the next day. They also greatly assisted me with my training once in Huaycan, and explained all of my responsibilities very clearly.

As a student, I had to organize obtaining credits on my own through my university, which was a bit of a long process, but it was not a difficult process at all. LLI also provided me with the necessary documents to show to my university, detailing my internship with them.

What is one piece of advice you'd give to someone going on your program?

I know at least for me, when I saw this internship posting, the job itself sounded perfect, but I did not know if I wanted to live in Peru. Now, I truly believe that if you love what you do, you can do it anywhere, with anyone. I met so many amazing people through this organization and was able to travel to so many beautiful places that I had no idea even existed. Peru has so much to offer and the people are so welcoming and accepting you will have no trouble making it feel like your home away from home.

What does an average day/week look like as a participant of this program?

LLI is an organization that has a Kid's Program, Teen's Program, Women's Program, and Huaywasi, their fashion brand. As a Huaywasi intern, I would travel to different areas of Lima to complete different tasks. For example, I would go to Gamarra, the textile district, to get fabrics and materials to bring back to the artisans in Huaycan. I would also go to Barranco for photoshoots.

When I was not traveling, I did a lot of work in the office or at home, but mostly on my own schedule. For example, I did a lot of photography and editing, so I would edit a lot of pictures at night. During the day sometimes I would assistant teach in art classes with kids and then go to the Huaywasi office to meet with artisans or go over new designs.

Going into your experience abroad, what was your biggest fear, and how did you overcome it? How did your views on the issue change?

I had a lot of fears when I was first going to Peru. I was worried that I would not know anyone, I could not speak Spanish very well, and everyone warned me that Peru can be dangerous.

My fears were soon overcome when I met all of the volunteers with amazing and outgoing personalities and I was able to fit right in and make Huaycan feel like home. Although my Spanish still is nowhere near perfect, I definitely learned a lot while being in Peru and everyone was willing to help me learn and get better. While Peru can be dangerous, anywhere can seem dangerous if you are not familiar with your surroundings. If you take the necessary safety precautions when you arrive, you will feel comfortable and safe walking around.

What was your favorite part about the job?

I have so many favorite parts about working with Huaywasi that I don't know if I can exactly pick just one. However, I truly enjoyed the sense of freedom and responsibility I was given with Huaywasi. The team worked so well together and everybody's ideas and opinions are taken into consideration, so I really felt that I was personally making a difference. It can be hard to feel beneficial to a company when it is so big, but because Huaywasi is so small, everyone feels appreciated and considered.

Staff Interviews

These are in-depth Q&A sessions with program leaders.

Elisa Vescovi

Job Title
Volunteer Communications Manager

What is your favorite travel memory?

I usually like thinking about the beginning. I have lots of amazing travel memories, but there is one that I consider the best.

It was the 20th of July 2017; with lots of different feelings in my head, I got off the plane and felt the humid air of Lima. In a couple of days, I would be starting my adventure with The Light and Leadership Initiative (LLI). Outside the airport, the Coordinator of LLI was waiting for me with a welcome sign. Everything was happening the exact way it was supposed to be. We took a taxi, and we started the ride to Huaycan, my new home for the next 12 months. I remember looking outside the window, the city passing by, people, colors, houses, the sea... And then we arrived at Huaycan.

The impact was at the same time exciting and frightening. Would I be able to learn and do my job? How would this new culture accept me? Will I be able to break cultural barriers? I had so many questions that usually mark new beginnings, and there were few answers at that time. However, I got them now! Thanks to the help of an amazing staff, a very welcoming community, the happiness of the participants, and the support of other volunteers, now friends, this experience has been one of the bests of my life!

How have you changed/grown since working for your current company?

Thanks to my experience at LLI, I am now more aware of the struggles that less advantaged people have to deal with everyday. I feel like I have a better understanding of the complexity of the world, and I have understood that you have to work very hard, when volunteering abroad, to have a positive impact on the community you are serving.

Volunteering abroad is not being a tourist, this is so clear to me. You have to learn a lot from the hosting culture and other people that very often, you feel like you have so little to give back. This is what happens; we are grains of sand participating in a long term process, and the only thing we can do is contribute in the best way we can, responsibly.

What is the best story you've heard from a return student?

I have heard a lot of success stories from our former volunteers. Some of them had the opportunity to find good jobs in International Cooperation or Education-related fields after their experience with us. Some others come back to visit Huaycan as soon as they can during their holidays, gap year, etc. Most of our former volunteers still continue to support the organization by participating in fundraising events, becoming members of our sponsor programs, or as donors.

I think these are the best stories of LLI’s return volunteers: seeing that their relationship with the organization, our programs, and the local community doesn’t end with the end of the volunteering experience; there is a strong link lasting for a long time.

If you could go on any program that your company offers, which one would you choose and why?

This is a hard question. I think all of LLI’s programs are deeply beneficial for the local community. We have a great team working in projects for kids, teens, and women in Huaycan. In addition to that, the fair trade project Huaywasi is a great empowering opportunity for artisans and women.

If I should choose one, however, I think I would still be interested in working in the Volunteer Program. The program allows me to have a direct and constant contact with applicants and people from all over the world, introduce incoming volunteers to Huaycan and our programs, explain to them our ethical philosophy, and work in the promotion and advertising of the organization.

What makes your company unique? When were you especially proud of your team?

It makes me genuinely happy to be working for a company that really takes local development seriously. One of the biggest achievements of this organization, which I am very proud of, is being able to offer a monthly fair wage to 10 local people. They are permanent staff members of the organization who found a decent and secure employment with us. I am pretty sure that this number will grow in the future!

What do you believe to be the biggest factor in being a successful company?

An important factor in being a successful non-profit organization is involving the local community in order to understand what the real needs are and the right path we can follow to solve specific issues. Communication, listening, and letting the community be part of the decision-making are other very important aspects.

Local communities' participation in decision-making is essential in guiding the organization towards success. We don't try to impose any decisions because we do not know what's the best for local people; it’s the locals who know what’s truly best for them, and we are just here to help them achieve that.