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.