Juana Alarco de Dammert (27 May 1842 – 2 August 1932) was a philanthropist and benefactor of Peruvian children. She was also knows as the grandmother of all children.
Life and Career
Born on 27 May 1842, Dammert had a humanitarian spirit as a child, often volunteering with her father at the local hospital. After marrying a German businessman in 1861, Dammert and her husband moved to Europe as France was undergoing a major welfare reform. It inspired her to learn more about how governments can play an impactful role in protecting the lives of children.
During this time, she became interested in the works of Firmin Marbeau, a French philanthropist who founded the modern concept of daycares, and Friedrich Froebel, a German philosopher who advocated for early childhood education. Armed with new ideas, Dammert returned to Peru in 1886—after the Chilean occupation ended—to help rebuild her war-torn country.
Seeing the war had left many children without parents, Dammert helped create an orphanage for kids between the ages of seven and twelve. She also later established caring maternity crib institutions for the children of working mothers, opened the first daycare center in Peru, and established two schools that helped young children learn at their own pace. Dedicated to uplifting impoverished women, Dammert also trained and empowered young women in Lima to become teachers.
Award and Legacy
Today, there are two schools and a park in Lima named in her honor. A bronze bust of Dammert has also been erected in her memory at Parque Neptuno. Every year, students in Lima gather at her sculpture to thank her and celebrate her life’s work.
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