Lima, Peru


Photographer: Elie Gardner & Oscar Durand

Year of Submission: 2016 (Educators Edition) 

Raissa Vargas, 28, and her husband own a modest wood home on a hillside in Carabayllo, a slum area in Lima, the capital of Peru, where they gave birth to their first child in 2011. Raising a child in neighbourhoods like Carabayllo is a challenge. Access to quality education and healthcare is a constant fight. Across Peru, one in five children under the age of five suffers from chronic malnutrition. The rate is even higher in Carabayllo. To give mothers more tools to manage these challenges, a non-profit organisation, Partners in Health, started training women such as Raissa to be leaders in their communities, teaching them about the importance of early childhood stimulation and nutrition, and then encouraging them to share what they had learned with their neighbours. Raissa is not paid for this grassroots work. Rather, she sees the time she spends as an investment in the future, for both her daughter and the community. “I see so many young people in the area dropping out of school and drinking too much,” she says. “I don’t want our children to copy that.” When mothers complain or don’t want to come to a session, Raissa laughs and tells them, “Stop whining! You will see later, your child will thank you.”