Centro Yanay, or “Suyacuyhuan Yachasun” (which roughly translates as “Learning for Hope” in Quechua) aims to provide educational and vocational assistance to at-risk populations of young and teenage girls in Cuzco by opening an occupational center aimed exclusively at their needs. Official courses, certified by the Ministry of Education, will be offered in cosmetology, computation, and administration along with voluntary workshops of alternative therapies, such as yoga, Andean weaving, music, and art. In addition, and perhaps most importantly, the center will provide a safe place where the girls can escape their current and past problems and focus on their dreams for the future.
The participating girls come from a variety of backgrounds. Some live in the state-run Residential Centers of Attention (CAR), which house girls under 18 years old who are either orphans or had to be separated from their family for their own safety. The center will also welcome girls who work as domestic servants and are currently taking night or weekend courses in nearby schools. In many cases these girls are victims of human trafficking, prostitution rings, and abuse.
The goal of the center is to provide participants with the vocational skills and self-esteem needed to escape the cycles of physical and psychological abuse and provide for themselves as young professionals. The project is divided into three phases.
Phase one consists of the recruitment of the girls to participate in the center’s activities. Through already existing relationships with the CARs and by visiting night and weekend classes in the local public schools, the center coordinators will visit the girls and explain the benefits of the offered courses and workshops.
In phase two, the girls will enroll in the official courses and voluntary workshops. They will learn vocational skills to be able to escape the life of domestic servants or to be able to survive when the CARs can no longer house them after turning 18. Through a contract with the Ministry of Education, the girls will receive official certifications upon completing their course of interest: cosmetology, computation, or administration.
In phase three, the center will open its own hair salon to provide practice for the cosmetology students as well as a source of income for the center. Over time, the hair salon profits will make the center self-sustaining.