Near Tarapoto, in the northern jungle of Peru, the Waldorf Initiative Estrella del Sauce is committed to education and social development by working together with towns and public schools. The association supports the work in kindergartens, offers afternoon care for school children, provides education for people with disabilities who often have no access to public schools despite compulsory school attendance. Furthermore, the initiative offers senior citizens the opportunity to again experience more of a communal life.
In Peru, families who can afford it send their children to private schools. The poorer ones stay behind, with underpaid and overworked teachers. And the school dropout rate is high. More and more Peruvian families are moving to the cities and with them the teachers. This creates an additional strong gap between the schools in the city and in the countryside.
The Waldorf teachers Lourdes Jibaja and Martin Stevens founded the initiative Estrella del Sauce, which gives people in rural areas access to education. The project, which began in a garage with a borrowed table, has been part of the UNESCO Club Network since 2010.
In the beginning Estrella del Sauce offered courses in handicrafts, art, woodwork, English, tutoring for students, and courses in reading and writing for adults. Furthermore, a pedagogical training for local teachers interested in alternative teaching methods was developed. The two founders were also involved in building a new kindergarten for the Q'ewar Initiative in Andahuylillas and the Kusi Kawsay School in Pisac. They also worked with street children in Pisac, providing warm meals and educational support.
In 2011, the initiative moved to Sauce, which is located almost 1,000 kilometers northeast of Cusco. The people in the region work as small farmers, fishermen or have a small shop. The children often support their parents at work to somewhat supplement the low income or are home alone while their parents work. Estrella del Sauce offers an additional program for children and teenagers: from age three to fourteen, they can take part in workshops and additional lessons in a small rented classroom. Since the region is very poor, only symbolic contributions can be paid, which are not sufficient to support the program financially. In the Shipibo tribal community, Estrella del Sauce works with a club for mothers. This cooperation also led to the founding of a school in 2009.
Also in and around Tarapoto, more and more public schools teachers are looking to the initiative for support. Since 2012, teacher training in Cusco and in Sauce has been held twice a year. Last but not least, Estrella del Sauce offers a new community to several older women, who meet once a week for handicrafts.
Lourdes Jibala and Martin Stevens use their experience as Waldorf teachers to initiate projects where they are needed. With the support of the Weltwärts volunteers and through the cooperation with the Friends of Waldorf Education, they enrich the educational and social landscape in the region and enable people to continue their education, to be creative and to participate in social life regardless of their health or economic circumstances. In order to maintain the wide range of activities, the initiative depends on donations.