A passion for nature, cultivated by the love her parents always had for gardening, coupled with intensive study on sustainable agriculture, is helping Sister Esperanza Valmeo Principio make a difference among the people of Peru.
Born in Bulacan, Philippines, Sister Esperanza grew up attending the Diocesan Shrine of the Sacred Heart of Jesus in Cruz na Daan, San Rafael where her family had been active parishioners.
A graduate of St. Mary’s Academy, Baliuag Bulacan, Philippines, operated by the Religious of the Virgin Mary, and University of the East, Manila, she joined the Religious of the Virgin Mary shortly after college, serving with that congregation for 21 years. In 2005, she became an associate sister of the Maryknoll Sisters in Panama City, Panama, and became a fully pledged member in 2012.
In 2013, Sister Esperanza was missioned to Peru. There she worked with Paz Peru, a non-governmental organization in Arequipa City, and served in their program for the elderly.
Later, she taught catechism to the confirmation class at Blessed Teresa of Calcutta Parish in Enace, Alto Cayma, where she also began the Center for Community Development at Colegio Jose Caruana, the school operated by the parish. At the Center, Sister Esperanza collaborates with parents, students and teachers in environmental, socio-economic and education programs geared toward mothers, children and adolescents at the Colegio and the neighboring Virgen to Chapí School.
Her fulfillment in her work can be manifested in the communal organic farming, rice marketing and sewing projects of the women, as well as in the climate change/environment program at Jose Caruana and the extension program at Virgen de Chapí.
The training she received on Rural Development and Social Leadership that includes Sustainable Agriculture at the Southeast Asian Rural Social Leadership Institute (SEARSOLIN) of Xavier University in Cagayan de Oro City, as well as her own parents’ love for gardening, gave her the sense of connection and love for nature that informed and inspired her in the realization of this project.
Sister Esperanza has a Master of Arts in Applied Social Research from Ateneo de Davao University, Philippines that enables her to engage in Social Development Programs for two (2) decades now. From her other trainings she coaches and trains individuals and group in tai-chi, yoga, healing, meditation and the Women Dialogic Café that she prototyped from her recent course on U.Lab:Transforming Business, Society and Self of MITx.
In the photo above, Sister Esperanza guides members of Mujeres con Esperanza Hacia el Futuro (Women with Hope for the Future) in bonsai making, using a recycled toilet bowl to hold the cypress tree. The tree is now a decoration in the communal organic garden that the women have created, along with a rice marketing micro-business in Alto Cayma, Arequipa. The group was organized by Sister Esperanza using the Asset-Based Community Development approach as well as techniques from a project using Dialogic Café discussions.
Sister Esperanza also shares her experiences and poetry in her blog: http://spieprincipio.blogspot.com