Tuesday, 21 July 2015

The Long Road Ahead...

PROJECT: Teaching
WRITTEN BY: Laura Manzi

The first day of school was daunting for most of us because we were unsure of what Pumamarca was going to be like. As soon as we walked through the bright blue gates we were greeted by a tidal wave of miniature humans who smothered us with hugs, kisses, smiles and howls of laughter…

I have never felt so welcomed in my life and the simple words “Hola Amigos!” made each one of us feel like the contribution that we would be making over the next four weeks would be greatly appreciated. In a way, though, by experiencing Cusco from this viewpoint, I feel that we will grow not just as teachers, but as healthy human-beings as well -- most of my fellow teachers have described this experience as soul-fulfilling and spirit-rising.

We were then ushered around the school grounds and given the chance to take it all in. Llamas (and not alpacas, which have shorter necks) reside in a little paddock, beautifully decorated by recycled materials; greenhouses line the back wall, which are used as learning tools for agriculture; and bright blue buildings covered in marvellous murals have been carefully arranged around green grass and a soccer field which tells visitors that the school functions like a small community.

The newly formed kindy area was the first place that we visited. Small, beady-eyes and screams of excitement pulled each one us and made it extremely hard to leave the place at the end of the day. It just goes to show, though, that these kids hold a certain level of resilience and compassion that children that grow up in the city don’t have.
These qualities tell me that these kids have a heart for experience and are not strangers to the idea of family and acceptance. Near the end of the day we had gravitated back towards kindy again. I had lifted one girl on my shoulder so that she could reach the monkey-bars and suddenly, moments later, I had a line of five year olds eager to have a turn.

I was more than happy to give every child a go because I knew that they would be grateful. It really puts a smile on my face to be a part of a project that not only support healthy child development but also directly feeds into the community and thus helps the futures of under-privileged kids.
Over the next couple of days we started to fall into a regular routine and each volunteer naturally moved into their positions without hassle. We spent the morning cutting up fruit and showing the little kids how to wash their hands. One of the volunteers had told me that a little girl had struggled to understand how to apply moisturiser and simply slapped it on her face in excitement.

Even though there exists a small language barrier between us and the children, the small connections that we make and the way that we communicate with the kids is a rewarding experience. We visited the homes of one of the children’s families which proved to be a very humbling experience. We brought groceries to this struggling family which turned into a very emotional visit – we all cried together and gave the mother a round of hugs and kisses.
If we continue to improve the lives of a small community, let alone one family, then happiness will spread like a wildfire. I have no idea what the road ahead of us has install, but all I know is that it will prove to be an extremely long one.

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