One of SIA´s most appealing aspects is to be given the opportunity to learn and teach. Through various placements, of our choosing, participants work amongst community members, students and each other to develop an understanding of the community. Our goal is to instill a lasting impression of hope and dignity within Lima. SIA works to ensure the shantytown of Pacifico de Villa, grows to become self sufficient and sustainable. With our contributions of working in construction, daycare, primary and intermediate schools as well as a special needs school we work to fulfill these goals.
As the week continues, most of us have chosen to work in each placement available. We cannot help but make comparisons between our world and theirs. During the first construction project each individual was given a task to complete: Janine cut iron rods into 1 foot long pieces while Jess and Mansi were instructed to bend the rods into even squares, while the rest of the group, Angus, Tom, Donald, Ryan and Michelle, were responsible for the physical labour of digging holes and moving rocks to the back of the school. The finished project for the end of the week would be to complete a foundation wall for the daycare to create a new room for the school in Pacifico de Villa.
Once we got into the momentum of our jobs we looked up the hill to see a house engulfed in flames. With survival instinct taking over, SIA members joined in with the community to extinguish the terrifying flames. Pacifico de Villa members banned together giving all they had in order to put out the fire and prevent it from spreading. Water is both rare and expensive for this community. Witnessing such a selfless act and giving the little that they have was astounding. This, for some SIA members, was the first concrete proof of solidarity we have seen. Some members described the situation as working together on a common goal, no matter their own circumstances. This is one of many situations we have seen that has reminded us to have a greater appreciation for everything, big and small, in our own lifestyles.
While working in the school settings, members became aware of their own abilities to communicate with the students despite the obvious language barrier. Members became more confident and comfortable in those roles even though most have never taught before. Almost every member as dove into the unknown and tried an activity they have never previously experienced. Some people were hesitant about children, some about teaching, and some generally with being in an underdeveloped country. But through trying and with the support of the SIA members and leaders we have overcome these challenges, no one has failed because the only true failure is not trying.
Stay tuned for more from SIA and our amazing journey,
Heather and Janine