Laureate Impact

Social Enterprise Rises from the Pandemic

Liliana Contreras is a final-year Psychology student at UPN and co-founder of Uyariway, a not-for-profit organization that provides free mental well-being services to the people of Lima.

Uyariway was conceived during the peak of the COVID-19 pandemic, when the increase in the prevalence of mental health and psychosocial issues coincided with severe disruptions to health services, leaving huge gaps in care for those who needed it most. Given the unprecedented stress caused by social isolation, which constrained people’s ability to work, seek support from loved ones, and engage in their communities, Liliana and her friend and fellow UPN student, Flavio Soria, felt the urge to help.

“I realized I could use my knowledge to help people in my community,” Lilliana says.

“In Lima, too many people were unable to get the care and support they needed for not only pre-existing, but also newly developed mental health conditions.”

While only in her second year of studies, Liliana (along with Flavio) enlisted a team of 100 volunteers – all UPN Psychology students. They walked the streets of Lima, talking to people who were struggling with a range of issues that started during or were compounded by the pandemic – from financial distress, to depression and anxiety, drug abuse, and domestic violence. The students offered psychological support and provided guidance on how and where to seek professional help.

Today, Liliana (at just 25 years old) and her Uyariway volunteers have delivered more than 1,000 mental well-being workshops and carried out over 380 individual counseling sessions. The range of programs they offer support:

  • People with disability providing workshops related to job preparation, job recruitment services, support for family members, as well as art classes
  • Children with learning difficultiesenhancing their learning through communal kitchens
  • Public school students, professors, staff and parents providing workshops on self-esteem, independence, drugs, sex education and safety at home and in the community
  • General public sharing information about mental wellbeing and how to seek help

Professional psychologists offer feedback and guidance on the work of the student volunteers, and intervene when the assistance of an experienced specialist is required.

Liliana’s choice of psychology as a career came as a result of the death of her sister in a car accident and witnessing her parents deal with grief.

“I saw the impact this profound loss had on my family, and so I made it my personal mission to support people with their mental well-being.”

“I realized I could use my knowledge to help people in my community,”
Liliana Contreras
UPN Psychology student

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