Celebrating end of MAY!

This month was extremely remarkable! To recap everything in its truest essence would be a difficult task but I can try my best to express my feelings towards this past month.

The adventure started with Peru A and Western group coming in at the beginning of the month. They started the projects that the rest of the groups will be fulfilling, perfecting, tweaking,  for the rest of the summer. The SIA staff members, and volunteers have worked day and night to make sure everything is happening with love, care and compassion.

We’ve seen three groups of volunteers come and go now. But to say they “came and went” is such an understatement of their experience. Each and every one of them put in their 100% efforts to the projects, to the planning, and to the relationships they built with the children here. The Youth in Action programs were successful due to the love and care each volunteer put into doing activities with them. The after school program is suppose to be a place of excitement, education and comfort for the children and I really think the SIA volunteers helped reach that atmosphere. The children awaited their 2-4 pm program each day and participated with full energy.

The health program got amazing feedback from the community and the school because of the efforts of all the volunteers. There was a lot of planning, documenting, surveying, meetings and preparing to reach the goals SIA and its volunteers had set out. The health program wants to improve general hygiene and evaluate the needs of the local communities that we work with. The volunteers worked on location, off location and ran events to create awareness towards these health issues. If it wasn’t for the hard work our volunteers put in, none of this would be possible. We had a health event in the community and in the public school Tupac Amaru II this past month and it only opens up more doors for the next coming months.

ESL is similar to the YIA program in that it allows for children to come out of interest to learn, and educate themselves. But ESL takes a solely english approach where the children come to practice their knowledge of english after school. I saw the volunteers and children bloom this month in the ESL program. There were always exciting stories to hear from each volunteers and I could hear the passion in their voice while expressing these stories. It is truly amazing to see volunteers really CARE for their placements that they took part in.

All of these amazing memories this month and a common theme of “end” comes to each volunteers mind. But this is not true! This is not an END! This is a celebration of the end of a month but the beginning of more progression. I highly encourage the volunteers to follow this blog, and our facebook page to keep that connection with your memories in Peru.

Keep in touch, all of you ūüôā

-Mansi Parasher

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SIA Peru B – Our experience in Lima

Since the Peru B group has just completed our last day of volunteer placements, I thought it would be appropriate to post a short reflection of our experience this week. Our group bonded very quickly since meeting each other at the airport just over a week ago. Our first trip into the shantytown of Hijos de 28 Julio was an amazing experience for all of us. We got to see firsthand the strong community spirit of these Peruvians, despite their many adversities.

Our group was split into three placement groups: a health program called “Hands for Hygiene”, an after school program in the community called “Youth in Action”, and an ESL program that works at a number of schools in Lima. Our days were very long and exhausting to plan for our placements every day, but our results have been well worth our efforts!

Today was Hand for Hygiene’s big event at the public school where they demonstrated the importance of handwashing to the students. They used a really awesome technology called Glow Germs to show the students the difference between washing their hands with soap compared with just water. The students absolutely loved the event, and it was a huge success. One little girl named Carla, who was the daughter of the school’s coordinator, was super excited about learning about proper hygiene, and also really wanted to learn English – an amazing amount of enthusiasm from someone at such a young age. The response from the staff at the school was also very positive – they want to get the Glow Germs to run similar programs themselves in the future.

Youth in Action, the after school program in¬†Hijos de 28 Julio is where I have been spending the majority of my placement time. The theme for this week’s program is “Healthy Relationships” and we have been busy planning fun and educational activities for the kids each morning and then running the program in the afternoon. It has been an extremely rewarding experience to see the children smiling and playing. Our team has really gotten to know the kids and parting with them will be really hard. Despite the language barrier, we have really been able to connect with them! Our big finale event takes place tomorrow afternoon – we have been working with the kids to put on a play for their parents at the community’s soccer field. We have divided the kids into two age groups and wrote skits for them to perform based on our theme. One involves bullying during a soccer practice, and the other involves a kingdom of sadness that needs to be transformed by working together to bring happiness. The kids have been working hard to learn their parts, and we have incorporated play practice into all of our lesson plans. The Youth in Action team can’t wait to see the kids perform tomorrow and show their parents what they have been working on all week!¬†

Finally, the ESL group has been working very hard to continue where the Peru A group left off, and have been able to incorporate a second group of kids into their teaching schedule. Their lessons have been focusing on health, including nutrition, body parts, self esteem and emotions. Their lesson plans have incorporated educational aspects, along with fun games to keep the kids engaged. After speaking with one group member, Kathryn, she was really happy to share that each member of their team really saw each other grow as leaders. A lot of the time there was stress and chaos, but they were able to come together when needed to improvise and adjust their lessons accordingly. The kids were very excited to learn English and were proud to show off what they had learned the day before. “Head and Shoulders” was a very popular song the kids were singing days later. Today was their last day of teaching and the students were sad to have to say goodbye, but it just goes to show the impact their project is having on the kids. Two of the girls made friendship bracelets for their teachers, and many of them wanted to add them on their Facebooks! ¬†

Overall, the Peru B group has really worked hard to make a difference during our placements and are looking forward to how the rest of our trip will unfold! 

– Robyn Yakiwchuk

PS – Michelle wants to thank her Dad for the experiences he provided her – they have really assisted her in making a difference in the community.

Is that an ALPACA?!

 

Today is Peru A’s final night in Cusco! Everyone has agreed that it is very bitter sweet. We have had so much fun here! There have been so many places we have gone in such a short amount of time! There have been many late nights and a ton of early mornings! For those picking up your loved one at the airport¬†on Friday¬†morning…prepare for many stories, laughter, tears…or possibly the quietest car ride home due to them being extremely exhausted (zzzzzzzzzzzz)!

 

Day one of Cusco we had to adjust to the altitude. Some participants were affected by the high altitude, but others breathed in the air as if it were nothing. After everyone crashed into their nice warm beds, everyone was off and out onto the town. Shopping, shopping, and more shopping, has definitely been a theme among Peru A. Markets here, markets there…they have probably hit them all up at one point or another during our stay here. After they were all shopped out for the day, we ventured out past the square and into Chez Maggie! Oh yes, many participants began to step outside of their comfort zone in the food area. We had some alpaca on the list of foods, peruvian pizza, nachos, and so much more! Let’s just say after this tiring day, everyone had a great sleep!

 

And of course, who could forget day two?! Waking up¬†at2:45am¬†to get ready and be on our way to Machu Picchu after an hour and 45 minute bus ride, another hour and a half train ride, and then a 30 minute bus ride to the top of the mountains! Many of the participants described Machu Picchu as a surreal experience and they still can’t believe they went. After our tour, participants parted ways: some went up to the sun gate, others went to the inka bridge and others travelled back down to the bottom to continue their shopping experience! Alpaca continued to be a common meal during dinner, and we also got to experience some guinea pig…teeth and all!

 

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Finally, that brings us to today. Some participants reunited with Western at the Chocolate Museum and Factory! Mmmmm chocolate…so much chocolate! Chocolate bars, chocolate tea, chocolate spread, chocolate cream, chocolate everything! Oh and who could forget the experience that everyone was so excited for?! HORSEBACK RIDING, of course! Although we had a little drizzle during our ride through the mountains, everyone had a great time AND we got to see a rainbow as we neared the end of our trail ride. We then had the chance to visit Cristo Blanco where we got to see ALPACAS galloping through the fields! This was definitely a highlight and a must see for many participants…cameras whipped out, eyes opened, and jaws dropped! After a long day of excitement, dinner was excellent, followed by a Tres Leche cake to celebrate the Peru A program coming to an end.

 

Our flight time got changed for¬†tomorrow¬†morning¬†leaving Cusco, therefore we are leaving¬†at¬†2:40pm…which definitely got everyone super excited! This leaves us with only 12 hours in the airport in Lima¬†tomorrow, and then on our way back to Toronto starting¬†at¬†4:10am on Friday¬†morning. The participants are excited to see all of their family and friends at home, even though they will miss the family and friends they have created here in Peru. There have been so many adventures, exciting moments, surreal images, laughter, singing, and many unexpected things that have happened during these past two weeks. Everyone has done such an amazing job and we are so proud of every single one of the participants that we have had the opportunity to travel with. Remember, it is not always what you have that matters, but what you decide to do with it!

ImageSelfie at Machu Picchu!

Farewells

Today was a day full of excitement because it was all about coming to an end of an experience. It is never an end to a feeling or motivation because these things can be carried on to your home with you!

That is the one thing we focused on during our late discussion with the group. Some of them wondered how they would possibly describe their experiences this week with their friends and family back home without missing the true essence of it.

Today, the western group had a grand conference for adults, and teachers from the physical education project. I got to see the aftermath of the amount of chairs left behind that it was truly amazing. I also got a gist of the event from the way they spoke about it at dinner. It was truly going home (going to Cusco) with a big bang!

As for Peru A group, we all went to the community called Hijos de 28 after the conference. This was the event that all the parents of the Youth in Action kids were invited to. It was a very successful event as more than 80 people attended. The health group including Nicole, Shavonne, Jasmine, Sydney and myself did a presentation for all the community adults about proper hand washing techniques and the importance of having a healthy lifestyle. Later on they expressed that they really appreciated our efforts and wanted to ask us questions. We all had hygiene packages for them.

The chaotic but beautiful part of this experience was the hand washing station we implemented for the Youth in Action program. After the rest of the group finished doing activities with the children, they came in to wash their hands. It was a lot of children with clean hands.

The event, the wonderful dinner, and the discussions all led to a super awesome day that no one will forget. Tomorrow is an exciting day for both groups as Western is flying to Cusco and Peru A is having a free day to explore Lima a bit more.

Group Peru A western

Mansi Parasher