GOLD: Taking peer education to Peru

The peer education movement is spreading! Dawn tells us how she inspired girls in Peru to lead on her GOLD trip

I had next to no experience of peer education when I took it to Peru with Guiding Overseas Linked with Development (GOLD)

It was one of the core aims of our three week trip to introduce the Guías Scouts del Perú to peer education, as they had heard how well it works in the UK from the previous years’ team.

My only encounter with peer education was when two Peer Educators – trained members of The Senior Section – came to run a couple of sessions with my Guides. In the UK they’ve made a real difference – talking to Brownies, Guides and members of The Senior Section about body confidence and mental well-being. But how was I, a peer education novice, supposed to help the Peruvians set up something similar?

Then going to Peru in itself was new to all six of us in the GOLD team. We had to think about what the weather would be like, how we would manage with only one of us speaking Spanish, and what food and other supplies would be available to us in country.

It was a bit of a surprise when we got to the capital Lima and found it clouded in mist. It was much colder than we were expecting.

Later we moved on to Tacna in the south of the country, which was much warmer but less developed than the capital, and the price of eating out was very cheap – although we did have a few upset stomachs!

Everyone was very friendly throughout Peru, going out of their way to help us and show us their culture. We took UK treats to swap with their sweet purple-corn drink, Chicha Morada, and biscuits, Alfajores - I’m not sure they liked Marmite though.

Guiding in Peru is the same but different

We found guiding in Peru has many similarities to the UK – they have the Promise, uniform and our love of badges! But there were differences too - for example our team were all aged 25 to 30 and Leaders back in the UK, but members in Peru don’t normally run units until they’re older.

While they were less worried about make-up and social media than Guides in my unit, the girls weren’t used to taking the lead in deciding what they do – something that is a core part of guiding in the UK.

Our peer education mission started with a camp

We attended a four day camp for girls aged 12 to 16 in La Castellana, the headquarters of the Asociación Nacional de Guías Scouts del Perú. We introduced the girls and their Leaders to the meaning of peer education and gave them opportunities to use resources like Free Bring Me to run sessions with their peers. It was new for girls to lead activities themselves and it took a few days for them to gain confidence. It was great when they took the initiative and taught us how to play their favourite games. We have great belief in their abilities - their peers will love the sessions they are starting to plan.

In the afternoons, we joined in with the activities, games and camp fires. We practiced our Spanish vocabulary and made life-long friends with the Peruvian Leaders.

The girls were lovely and came out of their shells by the end of camp, especially after we joined their patrols to complete an assault course at the local army base. Their health and safety regulations are more relaxed than in the UK as we came away with more bumps and bruises than expected!

Doing peer education the Peruvian way

The final part of our project was giving the National Board(!) our recommendations on setting up peer education in Peru. We gathered together our thoughts from the camp, and the ideas our newly-trained Peer Educators had given us. We were careful to take on all of their opinions and not just suggest they copy what works in the UK.

Consequently the board is putting their own Peruvian spin on peer education. Firstly, they’re going to use younger members, to fit in with their membership. What’s most exciting though is that they’re looking at running their activities in schools as well as in guiding.

We’re in touch with them all and can’t wait to hear how they get on. 

It’s your chance to join a GOLD team

I’d really recommend applying to GOLD. It enables you to share ideas with other young women around the world, develop your own skills and most importantly you will have a jammed-packed fun-filled adventure that you’ll never forget. My GOLD journey started with Go for GOLD and I've never looked back. 

Plus, next year’s GOLD Peru team will also get to see first-hand how the new Peer Educators are doing!

Follow in Dawn's footsteps

Apply to come to the selection weekend and you too could join a GOLD team and head abroad for an international guiding adventure.

Find out more about GOLD