Mónica Liyau – creator of Impactando Vidas (Making an Impact on Lives)
What started off as a hobby ended with a world ping pong championship title for Mónica Liyau. However, after a cancer diagnosis in 2015, Mónica made the decision to combine her passion for ping pong with her desire to educate young children on the importance of sport and what it can do for not just their physical health, but their mental health too.
“I was feeling empty inside and wanted to make a change in my life,” said the University of Lima business administration graduate.
As a mother of two and business owner of the prestigious candy marketing company, Golozzini, Mónica utilized her business administration expertise and founded Impactando Vidas (Making an Impact on Lives) in 2016. Created on the basis of Olympic values, the program has provided public schools around the country with 400 professional cemented ping pong tables, 7,500 ping pong paddles, and 20,000 ping pong balls.
It also gives talks, runs workshops and trains physical education teachers within the schools to help develop not just the students’ self-esteem and motivation, but improve their academic abilities as well.
“It’s scientifically proven that ping pong is the sport that most develops the human brain,” said Mónica.
“Although we are an athletic program, we not only contribute to physical and psychomotor development, but almost 100 percent of teachers within the schools say our social program helps students concentrate and read better,” she added.
With the support of the Ministry of Education in Peru, the program works to fulfil many Sustainable Development Goals set out by the United Nations General Assembly.
Since the program’s establishment three years ago, thousands of school children, in over 100 public schools across 12 regions in Peru feel that their lives have changed for the better thanks to Impactando Vidas.
Almost 3,000 school children have taken part in regional tournaments of the Impactando Vidas program, 320 of which have gone on to compete in national school sports competitions. A further 25 have gone on to win such competitions, with seven becoming regional champions.
Nicholas Harmsen – general director of Crea+
University of Lima graduate Nicholas Harmsen is now the general director of Crea+, a non-governmental organization (NGO) dedicated to educating school children in vulnerable areas in Peru.
After ten years of volunteering, the former industrial engineer student decided he wanted to give back even more and help transform local communities and society through Crea+.
The program recruits fully-committed creandos (professional volunteers) who dedicate their time and energy into going into public schools to teach.
“Each Saturday, we visit schoolchildren to teach them fun mathematics and multidisciplinary workshops, such as cooking, capoeira, dance, English, drama, speech, debate, football, mini-architects, craft, and more,” he said.
“So far, over 500 types of different workshops have been created. Such workshops have been classified according to motor, artistic, cognitive, and social-personal skills, and if a volunteer proposes a new type of workshop, we organize it.”
It’s not just the children who benefit from Crea+ either – the professional volunteers also see their own communication, teamwork and leadership skills develop as they work hard to help the children discover their talents and potential.
“This is very rewarding work that comes with great responsibility. I feel happy being surrounded by a great professional team who I learn from every day,” said Nicholas.
“The impact our work has on people is huge, and we’re convinced we will continue to bring about the changes that we want on a larger scale.
“We hope that more children in Peru believe in themselves so they can achieve their dreams.”
This year, the University of Lima hosted the program’s induction and training development for the next wave of professional volunteers.
Looking back on his time at the University of Lima, Nicholas is proud of his alma mater status and believes in the true value and importance education can have on an individual’s future endeavors.
Carolina Ward – founder of Conciencia
Having studied industrial engineering at the University of Lima, Carolina Ward decided to begin her very own business in the hope it would make others happy – a chocolate start-up business named, Conciencia.
In total admiration of Peru’s natural resources, Carolina hopes to educate chocolate lovers around the world about Peru’s rich biodiversity and what it can offer when it comes to raw, organic chocolate products.
Going from industrial engineering student to chocolate business founder is an interesting route – but Carolina most definitely has her reasons.
“The challenge was to combine the rigid, intellectual, and analytical side of industrial engineering that I had with the human aspect, directed toward healthy living, nutrition, and physical and spiritual well-being,” said Carolina.
Carolina frequently travels to the Amazon rainforest in order to educate and train farmers to grow raw cacao in the best way possible. Her small team includes a clinical nutritionist who helps Carolina and her business partner develop new recipes using additional superfoods and ingredients.
“The idea is to break the cliché that chocolate makes you fat and gives you acne, because it doesn’t. If made properly, it can be very healthy.
“Not only do we produce chocolate, we also promote a conscious lifestyle,” explained Carolina.
Working together with a non-governmental organization that runs after-school programs for school children, Carolina hosts her own educational workshops to do just that. From learning about the importance of sustainability of a business to understanding nutrition and what it takes to make the chocolate, she hopes it’s a positive way of giving back to the community that made her feel welcome.
In July this year, Conciencia won five awards at the International Chocolate Awards in Peru.
And when it comes to her experience at the University of Lima and how it shaped her into the person she is today, Carolina is beyond grateful – from making use of the university’s very own Fab Lab in order to create prototype molds for her business logo, to the help and support of the professors.
“The program awakened my curiosity and allowed me to understand how things work,” she said.
“Although I’m not an expert on agricultural engineering, I’ve learned a lot about such subject and that’s been thanks to the undergraduate program.”
Since graduating, Carolina has been invited back to the University of Lima to give talks on start-ups and her own experience.