Elba Zegarra Vila
I have been working since 2005, since Mama Alice began her activities in Ayacucho, I started working as a nurse, providing direct attention to children and adolescents with the different health problems that afflicted them. In 2009 I started my work as director of the NGO.
The most difficult part of my job as a director is perhaps to tell my colleagues that we do not have a sufficient budget to support children or families and that we would like to do too many things, but many times the budget is very limited.
There were many difficult moments, one of them was when they came from the prosecution service to corroborate a complaint about an abortion problem, the way prosecutors treat you and put you against the sword and the wall, people who do not listen and only listen to themselves. Another very difficult moment was when one of our former workers denounced us to the Ministry of Labor for degenerating the type of contract for their benefit, for me, it was difficult to understand the reasons why this person did it, despite the fact that we had helped him in all aspects and much more than our employer obligations were.
My coworkers and I share different anecdotes about children and adolescents, we discuss cases and they inform me about the situations in the community we are working in. Hearing about all the difficulties, the impact of our work and the happiness of our children gives me, every day, the energy to persevere. Also meeting our former students and hearing about the things they have achieved, in these years makes me proud. Many times they tell us: “Thanks to Mama Alice I have achieved this.” It fills me with satisfaction that we are doing well and it gives us the energy to keep going.
Getting to know, in depth, the world of the Ayacuchan people, the needs of the children, and the world of the street children, had a huge impact on me, working for Mama Alice. When you only know the superficial, you really don’t understand what is happening further in the deep. When you get to know them, you love them. Many times I felt the pain and sadness they felt. And I also learned to laugh at their innocence. I met many people, my coworkers, and volunteers from other countries, who come from different cultures. Above all, I learned to see the world differently and more broadly.
I am proud of many children and adolescents, I have seen so many children and adolescents change, I have seen them achieve their dreams, and I have seen them smile so freely, that I feel very proud. I remember Jhonatan, a teenager who could not read or write. He participated in our individual education program. One day he and my colleague’s teacher entered my office. Jhonatan opened the book he was holding and began to read. I looked stunned and cried. I saw how his eyes shone with emotion because he learned to read at the age of 14. Just like this case, there are many many anecdotes in my 15 years of being at Mama Alice that make me feel proud.
This Mama Alice project that we have been executing during these 15 years is very beautiful, I would like us to be able to expand our support to other provinces and maybe even to other departments. Also, a new project perhaps to be the pioneers in technical education having other specialities, cuisine, tourism and English. Like a school with a new methodology that is innovative in Peru.
Thanks to the NGO Mama Alice I had the opportunity to travel twice, to Holland and the United States, these trips helped me to get to know other realities, different from our country. It helped me to see my work differently from other perspectives, and perhaps to combine these experiences with our Peruvian idiosyncrasies, especially Ayacuchana. In the Netherlands, I was able to get to know the different schools, and different ways of teaching, I met nice and caring families and I saw different lifestyles. It was very interesting.