Saturday, July 12, 2008

AYNI Desarrollo

Our Peruvian partner during the Stage - that is, a sort of Peruvian NGO, who has strong links with Quebec, actually Sherbrooke in particular - was called AYNI Desarollo. The first four letters stood for something to do with social and cultural improvements and "desarrollo" means "development".
AYNI is run by four young women between the ages of 19 and 29. Through public relations, demonstrations, and word to word communication, they promote health, being environmentally conscious, recycling, as well as mature cultural and social ideas. Machoism is still very prevalent in Peru, and they are attempting to make Peruvians aware of feminism, as well as squash homophobia, sexism, and racism.
It often feels like Peru is what Canada was fifty years ago, in terms of social improvement. We have elevated the status of women considerably since the fifties, and AYNI Desarrollo is working on doing the same. They give presentations and just generally promote such a wide spectrum of issues: safe sex, not chucking your garbage on the riverbanks, recycling, feminism, hygiene, cleanliness, etc. They are a very forward-thinking organization for Peru. It was such a delight to being able to work so close with them.

AYNI Desarrollo was not only built by students and workers from Sherbrooke, but they also receive all of their financial support from Quebec alone. Albeit many letters have been written and meetings have been held, the Peruvian government has yet to support AYNI, making sure to shove all sorts of bureaucracie and impossible paperwork like a thick wall between them and the organization.

Either way, AYNI is doing extremely well, thanks to the four extraordinary women who run it. They never stop working, organizing things, going to meetings. When they weren't working, they were doing things with us - they even came on the weekend outings with us, in order to maximize our safety. I have never seen such pure and honest dedication in one's work before - I was terribly impressed, even though I did often feel sorry for the girls when they worked such long hours.

AYNI Desarollo, in my opinion, should set an example for many other similar organizations wishing to establish themselves in developing countries. So, the next time I am indulging in Pisco, a Peruvian liquor, I would like to raise a Pisco sour toast to Eliana, Deisy, Betty, and Angela, the four extraordinary women who headed and steered the strength and power of AYNI Desarrollo.