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Celebration of Service
 

Weekend work changes lives

IBM volunteers in Peru open up new ways of life for children affected by adverse circumstances
 

Over the past two years, three IBM Peru employees – Alicia Huby, Brenda Cavero, and Giancarlo Vial Del Pozo - have been dedicating entire weekends to help children affected by family and social violence, malnutrition, and other adverse circumstances. They are part of project Minka Perú, developed by the not-for-profit organization, Minkando, whose mission is to complement the standard education frameworks offered by school and family. The volunteers travel to communities where the children live, outside the capital city of Lima, and teach them about self-esteem, values and teamwork through workshops and games, opening up new ways of life to them.

Project Minka Perú operates in two locations – Ica and Ayachucho. Collectively, the IBM team has participated in 18 weekend trips, helping over 100 children learn how to channel aggression, build confidence to establish and strengthen relationships, identify personal skills and develop leadership skills. The weekend sessions have led to a decreased school dropout rate and greater involvement of youth in working to help solve the problems of their community.

"The kids we work with are so desperate for care, education and a space to have fun that it makes you give your best with them just to be able to see a child’s sad expression change to an amazing smile after a few hours of games and laughing together. After each visit you can really witness a change in them. It is very rewarding to see that we are making a difference," said Alicia Huby, one of the Team Peru volunteers.

Getting more involved

After several of these weekend visits, Alicia decided she wanted to do more and now serves on the board of Minkado. In this role, she prepares the activities for the weekends and organizes the volunteers, with the help of On Demand Community solutions. The "Help kids go green" solution has been used to show students how they can participate in creating a more sustainable earth and the "Introduction to not-for-profits for volunteers" solution is used to train volunteers in the organization. On Demand Community is a global community that combines the skills of over 175,000 IBM employee and retiree volunteers with the power of access to IBM technology, training, and support.

Based on the volunteer hours of the IBM employees, Minkando received an IBM Community Grant in 2010 to help finance the volunteer visits and continue the important work of project Minka Perú.

"Minka Perú has now become a part of my life. Of course, all the volunteers have separate lives -- with jobs and things to do in our free time; however, we still want to share our time in order to help others," says Alicia.

IBM is marking its centennial year with a worldwide celebration of volunteer service. Throughout 2011, IBM invites everyone to join our global community of employees, retirees, families and friends as we support the communities where we work, live and learn together.