It is so great to see everyone getting along and connecting on a different level. We have laughs during breakfast when we start the day together and laughs during dinner when our day is coming to an end. But its not just with each other that we are creating these bonds. It is with the people we are working with.
I noticed the little things Roxanne (My trip leader partner) does when acknowledging other people and making their day that much better. Around the retreat house we have many people come from different parts of Peru and youth groups come from Lima. Roxanne makes an effort to make these connections with the locals who she sees walking around or even the staff that works there.
I notice the hugs Urooj gives out to our volunteers at the end of the night before bed just to wish them a happy and comfortable sleep. I see the passion she feels towards the teenagers she gets to work with on a daily. She shared with me how happy it made her when all the activities they had planned went so smoothly and the children were starting to be more sociable with each other. These are real connections being made with real people.
The bonds we make within a week here stay with us for a very long time especially because you’re connecting on a level that we don’t tend to on a daily basis back home. We have water cooler conversations about the weather with each other and call that interaction. Do we ever talk about our deepest fears, or what inspires us, or who we look up to, or our weaknesses and strengths? These types of conversations are happening every single day and in the words of our participant “It is making me really really really happy.”
The group took a nice evening out at the “Parke de las aguas” and got to see a water laser which had a mix of peruvian music and amazing entertainment. It was a nice change to go out on a cultural exertion after dinner and enjoy some more quality time together.
Today, the volunteers got the chance to officially emerge with the children during their placements. The day began nice and early at 6:45 AM. It takes anywhere from 30-45 minutes to get to our placements depending on the traffic. We took the ocean side view today on our drive over to the district of Chorrillos. The volunteers seemed to really enjoy the drive, even though it was early, there was energy laughter and excitement.
Lynn and Stephanie have been spending their time at the Day care in Pacifico de Villa. Working with children can be exhausting especially if you’re going it ALL DAY. Sure enough, Lynn and Steph were tired by the end of the day but with a huge smile on their face. When asked about their day, Lynn said she was so happy because she got to read to the children today. They had 3 children at the day care today and had an amazing day just bonding and playing with them. These activities included anything from going to the playground to making music to reading books.
Our ESL and Hands for Hygiene groups spend some time at Tupac Amaru II school for the first time thisweek. There were many observations made today with the group of children the volunteers worked with. Bottom line was that the children here do not have the same opportunities that children back home have. Therefore, they don’t built up their social skills and confidence until a very late age. Children from 14 years old and younger get to experience leadership opportunities through extra curricular and the children at Tupac seem to lack those opportunities. It is so important to give them the platform to shine and share their opinions. And that is exactly what the Hands for Hygiene is doing in their Club de Salud group.
During ESL, Eva (a volunteer) got to meet all the children who are devoting their vacation time to learn English and be involved in these extra curricular activities. They made family trees, jumped rope, made sentences, and had fun learning new vocabulary and games they can take home with them. It was a great introduction day to get their new teacher Eva a little better. We hope the children come tomorrow with even more excitement and interest.
It makes us all feel very privileged to be here and spend this time with individuals who inspire us.
With every deed you are sowing a seed, though the harvest you may not see. – Ella Wheeler Wilcox
Today was full of excitement and new experiences! Who doesn’t love that…
The day started with an orientation to introduce our new participants to the program and the values of SIA. During this orientation, we familiarized each other with some activities that activated our brain and got us talking about topics we don’t necessarily think about on a daily basis. We spoke about our skills, our favourite people, new experiences, and shared our stories.
It was a positive start to a very positive day and it was all possible to the Peru D group. They got to sit down with the community members in the local community centre and just “chat” about their lives. A community leader went through and asked each participant (in spanish) their names and a question about themselves. It was really nice to see the participants retain the spanish and try to respond in spanish. The translator stepped in to make the communication crisp but there were many laughs and stories shared.
Today was all about contentment. We spoke about contentment at the end of the day by completing these two sentences: “I noticed that…” Some of the answers shared were about happiness and how they felt a connection with the people they met today because everything had a warm feeling to it. “I noticed that they took pride in every little thing.” It is very true that their hard work through out their community is very visible! You can see it in the way they interact with us, with each other, and their attitude towards meeting new volunteers.
The following week we will be experiencing a LOT of the culture with the Peru’s Independence day right around the corner on, July 28th! The volunteers are excited to have the opportunity to be here on such a day.
Well tomorrow is a new day full of other new experiences!
It was during the last day at the community when Troy (a peru C volunteer) was speaking in front of the community leaders, “Youth in action” children and the other Canadian volunteers that made a lot of us shed a tear. He spoke about his week long experience working in the community with Youth in Action. The comfort the children gave him, the support he saw, the love he felt, all of it was summed up by his well written speech for the farewell ceremony. The children didn’t seem to want to let go of him when we were saying goodbye. The children loved all the Youth in Action volunteers as they created such a beautiful and educational environment for them to be in. They spent days planning their YIA programs, making sure core values were taught to these children about love and respect. It is the transition that happens beautifully from one group to another. Peru C got to meet with the Manitoba group as the Manitoba group was easing into being here and starting their projects. The ESL program had gotten a fresh new start of its 6-week program and right now we officially have around 40 consistent children who attend our after school program and are eager to learn english every day for an hour. The ESL teachers from Peru C had a chance to sit with the new manitoba group ESL teachers to talk to them about the classes, the challenges, the lessons, the environment and just tips/tricks over all. The children have also been involved with SIA after school in the “Club de Salud” initiative. This club allows them to come together as a group and speak about the important issues of hygiene with their peers. This club is meant to built leadership skills in the students so they can move forward and make better decisions for themselves and the community they are from. Club de Salud did a presentation yesterday for the “Dia del Logro” (day of success), parents, teachers and, government officials all came to the school where different classrooms were set up for different demonstrations of the children’s excellence. Club de Salud did a demonstration of their own on the importance of hygiene and hand washing. Different stations were set up for the visitors to see and the best part was that it was all run by the students themselves! Birdie is the project leader for Hands for hygiene, and with the help of the manitoba group volunteers has been able to put this club together for the children to speak up and gain this confidence. It was amazing to see their excitement when explaining to a teacher about the state of potatoes when exposed to different bacterias. Different potatoes were set up in different bags after being exposed to various platforms and bacteria. It was left to grow for 4 days and seeing the results was shocking!
All the programs have been running with great success, no matter what the challenges are, all our volunteers come together and make beautiful memories. This is visible by the excitement and attachment the children have with our volunteers.
It is really interesting to see how Peru C has been interacting with the programs, the children, and with each other. Everyone is doing their best to fulfill their roles in each placement. The Hands for Hygiene groups did their first in-class presentation today. This took long planning, skit preparation and lots of communication! Their goal was to introduce the students to the new Champions program Hands for Hygiene is implementing in the school (Tupac amaru II). This champions program will allow the students to be directly involved in the Hands for Hygiene program to help raise awareness about health with their peers. It is so important for children to be involved in such after-school programs. It helps them gain confidence in themselves, step outside of their comfort zone and allow them to try new things but most of all, be in an environment that encourages personal growth.
The ESL group taught their first class of the NEW 6-week program today! All the children gathered in the big auditorium where they were awaiting to find out who their Canadian teacher with me. Our volunteers fit right in while making the children feel comfortable during their classes. Today, we focused on getting the children settled into their new ESL classrooms, having introductions and talking a little about ourselves. The children enjoyed the games, and laughing along while the volunteers were saying their names in a “funny accent” during attendance. This week will set the stage for the next 6 weeks of volunteers who will participate in this ESL program and enrich it with their variety of knowledge.
The YOUTH IN ACTION (I capitalized that because YIA is so full of energy) group has been at the community in this chilly weather for full days making sure the children receive the best 2 hour after-school experience. They have been practicing their animal poses, and bonding with the volunteering. Today, they were taught about balancing life, making those tough decisions and being responsible. Sometimes we are so caught up in having fun that we forget about the important things in life. Imagine kids as young as 6 years old being engaged a lesson like this, it is absolutely amazing what the volunteers have been able to accomplish.
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