Frederique Kallen grew up on a farm in the village of Noorbeek in the Netherlands. Her mother Alice Kallen-Frijns was the epitome of beauty, acceptance and love—traits that radiate today through Frederique’s infectious smile and laugh. Alice worked as an educator for children with learning disabilities and had a dream to open an orphanage. It was a dream that was gladly put on hold to raise Frederique and her brother and three sisters, one of whom was born with a disability.
After graduating from the conservatory with a degree in music therapy, Frederique felt the same passion her mother had to start an orphanage. She began volunteering in Latin America and Africa, and she worked for several years in the Netherlands before she was asked to run a temporary orphanage in Ayacucho, Peru—a beautiful city in the Andes that has been ravaged by civil war and poverty.
In her late 20s, Frederique struggled with feelings of unpreparedness as she considered starting her own nonprofit organization, but all of her plans came to a halt after learning her mother had been diagnosed with ALS (Lou Gehrig’s disease). She quit her job and spent the next year caring for her mother until she passed away in 2004, just one year after her initial diagnosis.
Losing her mother forced Frederique to reset and rebuild. It was a path of personal discovery that allowed her to turn her grief into something beautiful that would forever carry on her mother’s legacy of love. But Frederique’s dream was so much bigger than an orphanage.
In 2005, she founded Mama Alice in the city of Ayacucho to address the urgent needs and challenges facing children in the region such as neglect, domestic violence, alcoholism, sexual abuse, poor hygiene, and malnutrition. In Ayacucho, 50% of children drop out of school before completing their secondary education. Low self-worth and high suicide rates among children and teens permeate the city, an unsurprising statistic given that 70% of children involved with Mama Alice’s programs are victims of domestic violence or sexual abuse.
Frederique’s solution to creating lasting, systemic change: education.
Mama Alice provides supplemental education, extra-curricular activities and vocational training for children ages 4 to 18 that enhance Ayacucho’s public education system and offers stability and support that may not otherwise be available at home. The organization’s multidisciplinary team of teachers, psychologists, social workers and nurses work collaboratively with local teachers to identify children who need additional guidance, and they work in conjunction with existing curriculum to increase graduation rates and implement job training.
Because of its location nestled in the central highlands of Peru, Ayacucho has become a popular tourist destination. In response, Frederique created QuinuaQ, a Touristic Training Center and restaurant for Peruvian and international tourists to escape the stress and busy city life to enjoy the scenic beauty of the Andes through guided tours and recreational activities.
QuinuaQ offers employment and internship opportunities for young people who have been trained through Mama Alice’s educational courses and vocational programs which include classes in carpentry, metalworking, sewing, cooking, and hospitality services like bartending and wait staff. The center and restaurant provide sustainable employment while simultaneously investing in the local community. Profits from the social enterprise are donated to the psychosocial and educational programs run by Mama Alice, which guarantees a sustainable and independent future for their organization.
Every year, 500 to 800 children are positively impacted by Frederique and the programs provided by Mama Alice. Each of the children served are offered a path to success, the confidence to change their future and a loving support system to ensure they grow up to become fearless adults who believe they are capable of becoming anything they dream of.
Visit http://www.mamaaliceperu.com/ for more information.