Why the Petirojo Foundation?

The Petirojo Foundation was founded in 2007 as a small family foundation to fund a school in Zaña, in Northern Peru, for disadvantaged children, who for a number of reasons have difficulties attending public school. Some may lack proper identification documentation; some come from families too poor to pay for shoes, uniforms and various other costs charged by the public school; some may have lacked early stimulation due to their dire living conditions and have learning disabilities; others never had a chance to start school at the age most start and would feel out of place in public school. All require individual attention that the public system is not equipped to provide at this time.
Three children living in  San Rafael, a hamlet located 8km from Zana.  Because there is no school there, many of the children make the long trip to La Magnificat.


How the Petirojo Foundation Came About

In 1992, the Sisters of St-Joseph of the Diocese of London in Ontario, Canada, started the school under the name of Nuestra Señora del Magnificat, known as “La Magnificat.” In 2004 the school received its official accreditation as a school including students with learning difficulties. From 2003 to 2006, the Canadian NGO Heart-Links funded the operations of the school.
After Heart-Links withdrew its support of the school to focus on other programs, Louise Mauffette-Leenders, who had visited the school several times as a member of Heart-Links, went with her friend Sally Vernon in the spring of 2007 to assess the situation. They found that the teachers had started the school year without any funding and were very committed to helping their students. But they also observed that, despite the teachers’ best intentions, the methods of education they were using were not very effective. Louise and Sally came back convinced that the school was filling an important need and that providing quality education to the most disadvantaged children was a key to breaking the cycle of poverty. Louise and her husband Mike then decided to create a foundation to continue supporting the school. They invited Sally to become Secretary of the Foundation while Louise is its Chair and Treasurer, and Mike, a Director. They named the Foundation after the Petirrojo, a common red bird in the area, known to bring good luck for those who spot it. The Foundation signed an Agent Agreement with Asociación Petirrojo Perú, a Peruvian NGO created specifically to operate the school.

The Foundation Partnering Organization in Peru

Marleny Falla  Vallejos

President of Asociación Petirrojo Perú,
Grade 5 and 6 Teacher 
Bursary Program Coordinator

Cecilia Noriega Ramos

Secretary of Asociación Petirrojo Perú
Grade 3 and 4 Teacher

Luis Enrique Mires Ortiz

Treasurer of Asociación Petirrojo Perú
School Administrator

Improvements Made

 At first Sally and Louise focused on providing training for the teachers. Through a Peruvian NGO called Pro Humanus, dedicated to improving the quality of Peruvian education, a number of training sessions were organized during the school year as well as during holidays. They also worked at improving the quality of the infrastructure, furnishings and educational materials used by the school. Renovations were made with funding from ING Direct Kids Foundation. Each classroom got its book shelves stacked with numerous story books and the children soon made notable progress in their reading. They also implemented a payroll system involving a considerable increase in salaries as well as, for the first time, health and pension benefits in full compliance with Peruvian laws.
Grade 3 and 4 students having their breakfast in an old classroom before renovations in 2010
Pre-school playground in 2010
Classroom renovations in 2010
Our School is an oasis for many of our students

The School Now

 The school is now named “Institución Educativa Privada La Magnificat”. It is an inclusive school that provides         pre-school and elementary education to about 65 pupils, selected on the basis of their needs.
The freshly repainted school, May 2014
The school is managed following a participatory model where the part-time school principal, Milagros Medalit Chero Mejia, the five teachers, and the members of Asociación Petirrojo are involved is setting the budget, reviewing the operations and reporting to the Foundation. 
Our Principal, Milagros Medalit Chero Mejia, with our five teachers, May 2019
Physical Education Teacher

25th anniversary of La Magnificat and 10th of the Petirojo Foundation

In 2017, the school celebrated its 25th anniversary jointly with the 10th anniversary of the Petirojo Foundation that supports it.  Various activities including games, competitions, a special play, dances, poems and a banquet were organized with food cooked by the parents.