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 Avans students support Peru: ‘Without women, there won’t be any progress’

First-year International Business students Kathy Novoa and Cécile Klein are praised by lecturers and students for their passionate commitment to helping others. “We’ve  always wanted to do something socially relevant”, Cécile comments. Kathy and Cécile were nominated for Student of the Year for their involvement with the Human Works charity.

These international Avans students are best described as a ball of energy. They’re both very lively and talk at break-neck speed. No wonder their fellow students admire them for their energy and enthusiasm. They’re also very supportive of each other. “Kathy is always cheerful. In fact, she’s one of the most optimistic people I’ve ever met”, German-French Cécile says.

Peruvian Kathy, who’s been living in the Netherlands for three years, adds: “That’s exactly why we get along so well. We’re both full of energy. I know very few people who are as compassionate as Cécile is. She gets along with new people very easily. Once you get to know her, you understand why. She’s simply full of charisma.”

‘When women make money, they invest it in their families.’

Human Works
Together, Kathy and Cécile promote the cause of Human Works in Cajamarca, Peru. This charity aims to make the poor residents of Cajamarca self-sufficient by opening up a number of possibilities to them. They receive language training, learn how to produce goods and how to run a business. The students’ focus is mainly on women. “There won’t be any progress in Peru if women aren’t involved. That’s because if women make money, they invest it in their families. Ultimately the whole country can reap the benefits”, Kathy states.

Walter Evarts introduced the two friends to each other. This lecturer at the Avans School of International Studies (ASIS) knew that Kathy was involved with Human Works. Cécile had a soft spot for Peru and wanted to gain more experience working in the non-profit sector. And that’s why they got along so well. Ever since meeting for the first time, they get together regularly for brainstorming sessions. To help women in Peru to get an education or a job they sometimes team up with Evarts, who is also passionate about the country. Their charity project is called: Proyecto María.

‘In my hometown, many people are illiterate’

Tackling a problem
Kathy has been living in the Netherlands for three years. She’s very candid when it comes to talking about her childhood. “For me and my family in Peru, it wasn’t that much of a struggle. Although we were living in a poor area of the country, we were a relatively wealthy family. Traditionally, people in Peru make donations to the poor at Christmas. My parents also do this every year. When I was living in Peru I was a little naive. I didn’t give much thought to the living conditions of the underprivileged until Christmas rolled around. The older I grew, however, the more I realised that I wanted to support these people all year round. It’s such a wonderful feeling to be able to help people out when you have the means. In my hometown of Cajamarca, many people are illiterate. A couple of years ago, I decided I wanted to help tackle this problem.”

‘My mother is my biggest source of inspiration’

Fending for yourself
Cécile is from Germany. She’s only been living in Breda for six months. She is fluent in four languages: Spanish, French, German and English. “I’m pretty ambitious”, she admits. “However, I care about a lot more than having a stellar career. My mother has always been actively involved with the community. She helps others without asking anything in return. That’s not necessarily common in Northern Europe, which is an individualistic kind of place. Especially Germany, where everyone is expected to fend for themselves. My mother is devoted to others, which makes her stand out. She’s my biggest source of inspiration.”

Cécile spent a year in Peru working in a drug rehab clinic. “Peru was a beautiful place and I got a lot of satisfaction out of my work. At the same time I also struggled because I was too deeply concerned about the clients’ fate. I decided I still wanted to help but to change the way I did it.”

‘Our fellow students are very grateful’

Cécile moved to Breda to study at Avans six months ago. “I’m results-driven but I prefer to combine my work with non-profit work. After graduating I want to take a job at a charity.”

Kathy nods, revealing that she has the same ambition. “Right now I’m devoted to making Human Works grow, together with Cécile and Walter Evarts. In the future, I want to pursue other non-profit work.”

Kathy and Cécile combine their studies and charity efforts with tutoring fellow students. “Maybe sometimes we should say no because we’re busy enough as it is, but our fellow students are so grateful for our support”, Cécile says.


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