On March 18, 2016, Lobitos’ newest not-for-profit organization, High Tides International, opened a new community center. The center, located in Northern Peru, is now open 5 days a week to provide children in the community a creative, educational space to come to after school hours.
The plans to open the center have been in the works since the organization was founded in August 2015. Leah Donatiello, Executive Director at High Tides International, was already facilitating child and youth activities in the community but felt it would be best to have a central location where the children could convene daily.
“We knew we needed to create a central space with a consistent timetable where the children could find us everyday. Prior to the center being open, we had to physically round up the kids and often, we couldn’t reach them all,” said Donatiello.
Once the space was secured, High Tides International hired local workers to undertake the difficult task of renovations. This began with laying a concrete floor, replacing walls and installing secure doors and locks. The walls were then given a fresh coat of paint to create a welcoming environment for the children and volunteers. While the building is currently rented monthly from a local family in Lobitos, renovations will continue to further improve the space, thanks to the generosity of High Tides International donors.
The center is now open Monday-Friday, with drop-in hours from 3pm to 6pm. It is currently managed by local and international volunteers. Being open daily on weekdays has allowed for flexibility in children’s programming, working within the organization’s themes of education, self-exploration and creativity. Activities include different arts and crafts, making bracelets, coloring and doing mazes, reading, playing jump rope, and doing yoga.
Children are also able to take advantage of a library, operated in partnership with Libros a Lobitos. The library contains books donated by international travellers to the small surf town. Donations of lightly used novels and children’s books are still being accepted as the library continues to grow.
“I especially love when in the midst of a chaotic day, I look back to where the books are and can find one or two kids sitting and quietly reading to themselves,” says Donatiello, “I’ve let a few older students take books home to read and some have already exchanged them for new ones.”
Now that programs are being offered on a consistent basis, Donatiello has already begun to see children who would not normally attend her programs. Having the ability to offer a wide range of activities to suit different interests, Donatiello says children are eager to come back the next day. While the children are benefiting from having a structured program each day, seeing the kids take initiative in leading games or practicing their English motivates the volunteers to continue giving their energy to the worthwhile cause.
High Tides International is a Canadian non-profit organization whose mission is to provide an outlet for education, creativity and self-exploration in communities where resources are needed. The organization is currently based in Lobitos, Peru.
In December 2015, High Tides International ran their first mass online fundraiser, raising over $4000 CDN for the operations of the organization, including opening the community center. Without the support and enthusiasm of the donors, High Tides International would not be able to reach the children in the community in the most effective way.
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