Thursday, March 28, 2013

Gracias Victor's Vision and Hogar del Niño!

Two weeks ago I had the exciting opportunity to travel to Chulucanas, Peru to visit Victor's Vision - a non-profit started by Villanova alum and friend of Starfish co-founder Beth Awalt -  Emily Felsenthal.  Victor's Vision is a non-profit that provides students with the resources, support and guidance necessary to pursue higher education as a means to escape poverty.  They do this through after-school academic classes in the core subjects everyday with certified teachers.  Students start Victor's Vision in 2nd grade and continue through college - a goal that was only a dream for most students before they entered Victor's Vision.  In the province where Victor's Vision works, only 37% of finish primary school, and a mere 4% complete university.  All Victor's Visions students are on a path to making university a dream come true!

The four main programs at Victor's Vision are academic classes, field trips, nutrition and parent workshops.  Overall it was a wonderful experience and we aspire to accomplish much of what they have accomplished!

While in Chulucanas, I also had the opportunity to visit a shelter for children and teens who were either abandoned by their families or in a dangerous home situation.  The shelter is doing a lot of great work with very limited resources and personel.  Below are some pictures from the shelter.

Check out Victor's Vision website and like them on Facebook to learn more about this great initiative in the neighboring country of Peru!  Also check out Hogar del Niño Alto Piurano on Facebook!  Thank you to both organizations for being such wonderful hosts and teaching us about Peru and your work!

Lunch time at the shelter.

Sally, 4 years old, a new arrival at the shelter.  
For 4 days straight that beautiful and contagious smile never left her face! 

Hermana Maria Luisa, director of Hogar del Niño Alto Piurano with Starfish Co-Founder Jenn, and Starfish Volunteer, Angelo.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

A hungry child can't study!

Last week we talked about how the rain is affecting the families of Guayaquil and the whole coastal region of Ecuador.  Not only are houses and streets flooding, causing damages to homes and bringing new illness - but the alimentación (nutrition) of already marginalized families may be taking a hit as well.  As reported in Ecuador's newspaper "El Universo" many rice plantations and the areas surrounding them are currently flooded, cutting off access and driving up prices.  Rice is a staple food in Ecuador, eaten 2 or 3 times a day - and sometimes the only thing a family could afford at what was a mere 30 cents a pound.  As of March 3 rice was at 37 cents a pound, a 23% increase and a huge burden for many families.

Other food hit by rising prices due to the flooding include tomatoes, berries, fish and beans.  These prices are reportedly rising as much as 40%.

Find out at more at:

As part of our 2013-2014 programming Starfish will be providing a healthy snack at all tutoring sessions and monthly meetings as well as providing educational charlas (talks) throughout the year about healthy eating & living habits!  With this new initiative we hope to instill healthy habits and increase the ability of our students to study effectively without the pangs of hunger as a distraction.

Flor de Bastión students enjoying a healthy snack of yogurt, fruit and granola at the October 2012 monthly meeting.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Bienvenidos - Welcome to Starfish 2013-2014!

The new class of 2013-2014 Starfish Scholars has been selected - with many familiar faces, and a few new ones!  Once again we will be working in the 2 neighborhoods of Guasmo and Flor de Bastion.  Stay tuned in the coming weeks to meet our new scholars!

Congratulations to Ana, Anthony, Arelisa, Argenis, Betsabeth, Briggette, Carlos, Cristhian, Dayanna, Eddy, Elian, Evelyn, Genesis, Geovanny, Jerson, Joel, Karolayn, Lili, Maria, Maria Belen, Marlon, Milena, Pamela, Samantha, Solange, Steve & William!

We look forward to working with them in the 2013-2014 school year, however this year the President of Ecuador has decided to start school one month later - in May - to accomodate the many schools that often open late due to flooding in the rainy season.

Want to learn more about rainy season? Check out this picture I took last year and for our spanish readers - read how many parts of Guayaquil have been declared in a state of emergency of last Saturday's torrential rains.

Center of Guayaquil, April 2012. 
The neighborhoods in which Starfish works are not blessed to have paved roads in all areas, making rainy season an even messier scene than the one above.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Be a Shooting Star!

Our students may be on break, but we certainly aren't!  During summer break we are busy working on grants, updating our social media and selecting a new group of scholars among many other tasks.  Want to get involved?  Why not volunteer for Starfish!

We have several virtual volunteer positions available in Grant Writing, Social Media, Website Design as well as positions in Ecuador for a Before & After School Program Coordinator, Music Teacher or other project suited to your interests and skills.  Past and current volunteers have worked on projects in fundraising, database management, grant writing and social media in the U.S. as well as photography, before & after school program help, nutrition & gardening and English in Ecuador.

Our volunteer positions are great for recent grads, summer interns and anyone looking to put in a few hours of volunteer work for a great cause.  If you're passionate about making a difference in the education and lives of young people in Ecuador, this is for you!

Review our website and then contact Jenn & Beth at if interested in getting involved!