Good Morning, everyone!
Although I have been posting glimpses of my days in Peru, I haven’t talked much about or shown much of my volunteering in childcare. That is why I went, after all. As I explained before, I went to Peru to volunteer with children for one month. Going into it, I didn’t really know what to expect, just knew I would be doing something with some kids, somewhere. I was placed at Corazon de Dahlia, an after-school program started a few years ago to give the kids in the town of Saylla a place to go after school, do their homework, and wait for their parent to get home from work. I took the bus (with semi-crushed knees 🙂 ) every day through beautiful landscapes until I arrived at my project. With 2 other volunteers, I went everyday for 3 hours, helped kids with their homework, went outside and played games, and helped the teachers with various projects. The teachers at Corazon de Dahlia were so sweet, yet stern with the children and they were all respected by each child. I don’t know how they found their way to Corazon de Dahlia, but they are amazing with the kids, and it is obvious that the kids absolutely adore them. Some of the kids come from homes with alcoholism and abuse, so these teachers offer so much more than just help with homework- they offer compassion and warmth to kids that may not have that at home. I hope that I was able to do that each day for the kids. My favorite part of every day was coming and going, because each of the kids would run over to me with a big smile on their face and greet me with a big “HOLA PROFESSORA!” and a kiss. They are all so sweet. I love the following picture because the girl to the right of me hardly ever smiled- not when singing, not when dancing, and not when playing. But on this particular day, she was ALL SMILES and kept asking for me to take pictures. The girl to my left, however, is usually smiley, but was upset because the girl that’s holding the paper snatched it right before this photo was taken. Ha.
The kids enjoy reading, coloring, dancing, playing soccer, using chalk, and playing jump rope. They also spent about an hour each day practicing their song and dance to prepare for a celebration of the four year anniversary of Corazon de Dahlia, when THE Dahlia would be coming to visit (my last day at the project). While I don’t feel that I changed their lives by being there, I know that the volunteers bring lightness into their lives by bringing things that make life easier for them and their families. When I asked my friends and family to consider making a donation to the children at my project, as well as children at other projects, I was pleasantly surprised and overjoyed by the generosity that I received. A small donation can go a very long way in purchasing products and food for these kids, so raising $127.00 (353 soles) in 3 weeks, meant that I was able to purchase a bunch of things, as well as leave some extra money with specific instructions to be used as needed (which I will continue to update, when that happens!) So what was I able to get? I asked the teachers at Corazon de Dahlia what would be helpful for the kids, and they provided me with a list of items that can be used often.
–Construction paper for events and crafts
–Soap (6 bottles)
–Hand lotion (2 bottles-1 is not pictured)
–Face lotion, specific for treating extremely dry, scabbed skin–Wart medication: One day during my last week, I was washing and putting lotion on each of the kids hands. There was a new boy with us and after he washed his hands, he put his hands out for lotion and I saw that his hands were completely covered in warts. I knew what they were immediately because I used to get them occasionally as a child. I went to talk to the teacher, who kind of knew what they were, but I explained that they are easily spreadable to his eyes, mouth, face, and to other kids, if not treated. So I bought him the medication with specific instructions on how it should be used. I hope it helps!
–Diapers (2 packs): These weren’t for the kids at my project, but Silje works at a project with special needs kids, where most of them are orphans. Many of the kids were neglected as a child and never learned, and some just don’t have the ability to go to the bathroom, but all of them are in diapers. With no government funding, the orphanage is extremely strapped for money, so each child gets one diaper per day. I tried to ask why they don’t use cloth diapers, as this is a more sustainable solution. No one could give me an answer, but they said it’s been looked into in the past. I don’t necessarily think it’s the best choice, but I was happy to be able to help out in a small way.–Fruits and Vegetables: Again, not for my project, but for Silje’s project. The kids there eat rice and potatoes, and very rarely do they get meat or produce. With 50 soles donated, they were able to purchase a lot of fruits and veggies. While I was not there to deliver them, Silje told me that the children were extremely grateful. One girl that usually doesn’t speak to Silje, stopped to say thank you and give her a hug for buying produce. I don’t really think this picture does it all justice, but there was a lot!
–Hand towels (11) and hooks to hang the towels (19): When Silje and I went to El Molino, we went on a hunt to find hand towels and hooks for the kids at my project. They all share the same towel when they wash their hands which is 1) always wet, and 2) unsanitary because I don’t think it’s washed often. We bought every towel that was sold in bright colors because I think this is an inviting and fun way to remind the kids to WASH THEIR HANDS! The teachers loved them, especially because everyone gets a hook. I wish we could have found more. I also don’t have a picture–I’m sorry!
–Fruits, cereal, and yogurt for cooking day! The kids at corazon de Dahlia don’t usually get a snack while they’re there, so on the days that they do, it’s a special treat! The volunteers are encouraged to bring talents and interests to their projects, so I wanted to bring my love for [healthy] cooking. While parfaits aren’t really cooking, the kids learned all about making sure to carefully wash the fruit, how to be careful when cutting fruit, why fruit is healthy, and how to layer a parfait. The eat so much candy (part of the reason their teeth are rotting), so this was a great way to show them that healthy food can be sweet, too! They LOVED the food and kept giving me hugs. I wish I could have brought a snack every day!
–Money Donated: I donated 50 soles to be used as needed in the coming weeks. I left specific instructions for them to purchase games (most games are missing many pieces),hygiene products, etc. And they will let me know when and what is purchased, which I will update on here.
–Money Donated: I donated 20 soles to Silje’s project to be used for medication. There is a child at her project that has seizures often, but with no money, there is no medication. The medication is very expensive, so with that money and other donations, they will be able to purchase at least a month’s worth.
Once again, a very, very, very big THANK YOU to everyone that generously donated money to the kids in Cuzco. Whatever your contribution was, you made a HUGE difference in their lives and we (the kids, me) can’t thank you enough.
And finally, a very special thank you to:
~Everyone that shared my GoFundMe page
THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU!