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Celebration at Vila Maria

“A school which is a beacon of hope in its community, offering disadvantaged children an education and the chance of a better life”

Project Co-ordinator: Ivonne Cantu
Location: Lima, Peru
Dates: School set up in 2003, La Vida supported sin
ce 2007


  • Primary school in a shanty town on the outskirts of Lima, Peru, where many residents lack access to basic services and other schools are either too far away or too expensive
  • Full programme of community outreach in collaboration with Quest Overseas volunteers including cinema shows, family entertainment on Sundays, summer camps for local children, adult education projects and house building for the neediest community members.
  • Recognised in 2014 as an Asociacion Civil in Peru, potentially allowing it to qualify for full charitable status

Description of Project

This is a primary school in a disadvantaged area of Lima giving up to 150 children excellent educational opportunities. Villa Maria is a shanty town that has grown rapidly as families have migrated from the countryside in search of work, but lacks much essential infrastructure. The Villa Maria school serves primary school-age children from as young as three in a very poor community on the outskirts of Lima where many residents live in substandard housing and lack access to basic services. The school provides them with a quality education, free to the neediest children, as well as a programme of outings and extra-curricular activities designed to broaden young minds and stimulate their experiences.

La Vida has supported the school since 2007, funding the costs of 26 children per year and providing additional facilities such as computers, books and sports equipment as needs arise.  In addition, La Vida has brought in third-party sponsors for on average, another 20 children per year and has helped secure donations from other organisations including the Maitri Trust.  The school is run in conjunction with gap year organisation Quest Overseas, which brings UK students to Peru to volunteer, helping with leisure activities for local children during the school holidays as well as building new homes for the poorest families in the community through its charitable arm, Quest4Change.

In the last ten years since the school was founded it has broadened its reach into the community by partnering with Quest Overseas and La Vida on a number of projects, including housebuilding, community cinema and Sunday family entertainment, an adult literacy programme, and summer camps and outings for the kids. Its work has been recognised by the local authorities including the Mayor.

This year, Villa Maria will benefit from some significant rebuilding and enlargement works funded by a bequest from a UK donor, but will still require core costs such as teachers’ salaries to continue providing education for local children as well as the running costs for community-based adult training workshops in its new facilities.  It costs approximately £220/year to pay for one child’s education.  Villa Maria has recently  become a fully-registered local charity, which should enable it to raise more funds locally. You can see a tour of Villa Maria and the extension works on youtube.

If you would like to experience the school for yourself, its Facebook page always has lots of recent pictures capturing the children’s achievements, and there are also regular postings of videos on You Tube. For more information on volunteering, contact Quest Overseas.

We are always looking for new sponsors for needy children, as well as for people who would be prepared to support the school for one-off projects. Please get in touch! The cost of sponsorship is currently set at £200 per year.

Sponsor a child in Villa Maria

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