19 Sep
  • By Theresa DeSouza
  • Cause in

Volunteer Story: Meet Leila!

UPAVIM is very appreciative of the many volunteers that have contributed their dedication and creativity to the programs in La Esperanza. We have enjoyed volunteers from many countries for the past 20 years including the United States, Canada, Germany, Denmark, Belgium, Hong Kong, Holland, and Scotland. [divider_line]

Meet Leila

[image source_type=”attachment_id” source_value=”1440″]

Where are you from?

My parents live in Davis, California. However, until I was 14 I lived in the Philippines where both my mother and father worked as Agricultural Scientists. I didn’t live in the US until I was 14. My family also lived in Mexico before that, until I was 3 years old.

Where and what did you study?

Sociology and Evolutionary Biology at Rice University Texas

What will you be doing in UPAVIM?

I will be working as an assistant to Barbara (UPAVIM Advisor). This job can mean anything from working on an area down in the artesania, where the crafts are produced, to hotfooting it to the other side of the city to run an errand. There is always something that needs doing here. I have had a lot of input into the organizing of craft fairs within Guatemala, and acting as an English speaking UPAVIM ambassador. So far I have learned a lot about the importance of communication within a nonprofit and general management of a business.

What is your interest in UPAVIM?

I am interested in working with social programs, I think UPAVIM is a good example of a success story in a very difficult environment. I knew that I wanted to work in Latin America, and I knew I wanted to work for a nonprofit. I had just graduated and had itchy feet to be out of the country and travel. I found UPAVIM online and thought it was perfect for what I wanted to do. I am drawn to women’s issues in particular in the nonprofit sector. I also knew I was ready for a real challenge, which living in a slum would definitely present.

Do you have any goals you want to accomplish while you are here?

To create a product that utilizes the left over soy pulp that is currently not being used.

What is your favorite thing about UPAVIM so far?

Absolutely, the women here. It is an obvious answer, because the women are such an integral part of what makes UPAVIM what it is. But their spirit is so strong. They are incredible because they live such difficult lives, and so many have experienced such pain, and yet they continue to find the good. I have loved getting o know the women and being able to spend time with them and their families.