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This is the question the 1980 Nobel Peace Prize Laureate, Adolfo Pérez Esquivel, asks us as we walk with him through the Aldea Niños Para la Paz, or the Children for Peace Village.
The Village started as an idea 10 years ago based on this philosophy. Today, it serves as a haven and a source of inspiration for over 115 youth. Young adults from the ages of 12 to 20 from poor suburbs of Buenas Aires return weekly to spend time with role models, to develop friendships, and to learn some really cool things.
Poverty is another form of violence that encompasses the lives of many of these kids on a daily basis. In response, Adolfo created the ANPP to give kids a positive alternative. The organization offers guidance, computer training, math and writing tutors, and practical skills training in carpentry, gardening, and metal working.
The Village is set on 5 acres of property that was converted from barren, dry land 4 years ago into a sanctuary with fertile organic gardens and buildings with lights, heat, and cooking facilities. There are even small pens for bunny-rabbits that will eventually be sold.
Who managed such a transformation? The kids! Most of the Village's facilities have been created by the kids - with a little direction. Right now, the kids are learning how to install sanitary systems and gas lines, and they have actually welded and installed the systems themselves!
Besides building and installing, the kids spend their days at ANPP doing fun things like making cheese and recycled paper. They learn about bee-keeping and how to make their very own, yummy honey. In the computer workshops they are creating their own magazine with poems, stories, editorials, riddles, crossword puzzles, and other games. In woodshop, they can make whatever their imaginations inspire... Mauricio was making a wooden spoon, meanwhile Pablo was making a baseball bat.
The kids eat meals together, celebrate birthdays, and go on occasional field trips. "I look forward to Saturdays so I can come here. I've been coming here for over 2 years and have learned so many useful things," says Rodrigo, 17, as he laughs outside with his friends after lunch.
"I come here because it's fun...the teachers and my friends are like my brothers and sisters," says Claudia, 18, who began coming to the Village 6 months ago.
As the word spreads, the Village continues to grow. The village is not just run by teachers, the youth have an active role in the direction of the organization. In addition to the honey and bunny businesses, the kids are hoping to start raising chickens, sheep and goats in order to sell eggs and cheese. The Village has created an environment of support, fun, and hope for the kids and, Adolfo admits, it's a lot of fun for him too!
Shawn - The Amazing Man Behind the Sweatsuit and the Nobel Prize - Adolfo Pérez
Monica - The Life and Times of Eva Peron
Kevin - Will Paraguay Ever Have Justice?
Making a Difference - Save a tree, go napkin-free!
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