Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Profesor Kira

Ayacucho, PERU

Four of the boys who live in the shelter do not attend school because of behavioural problems or because their level of education is so low that they would have to be put in with kids who are much younger than them. So those four boys are taught in Los Cachorros. One of my roles in Los Cachorros is to teach them PE on Wednesday mornings and English on Friday mornings.

I turned to the internet to try to get ideas on how to teach PE, but most of the activites I found needed equipment like cones, balls, hoops, ropes etc. Since at my disposal I have only one football, one small sponge ball and one wooden racket, I have had to be creative. In any case all the boys want to do is play football. So my classes are generally 45 minutes of "educational activities" and 45 minutes of football.

As the boys are only now learning to read and write in Spanish, my English classes are pretty basic. Still, even with what I considered to be basic words, problems have arisen - I have learned that "girl" is a difficult word for Spanish-speaking kids to pronounce, and I must fugure out how to stop them from putting "e" in front of words that begin with "s" like they do in Spanish (e.g. escuela/school, estudiante/student, Espana/Spain). Still, I´m happy that some progress has been made.

I´m also happy that I´m called "profesor" (the kids call all the staff the Spanish word for teacher). Although they can´t quite pronounce my name, its nice to be called profesor without having had to do years of research!

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Los Cachorros

Ayacucho, PERU

I have now settled into my new life of living in Ayacucho and doing voluntary work. The charity for which I am working, Los Cachorros (The Puppies), is a small Dutch organisation that only operates here in Ayacucho. It has three elements: (1) workers go out into the streets to get to know and to try to help the kids living there; (2) a night shelter that provides a place to sleep for kids who spend their days on the streets; and (3) a permanent shelter, where I am working.

Currently the permanent shelter is home to 11 kids, all boys, aged between 8 and 16. My main role (I will write about my extra activities in later entries) is to work three to four shifts a week. The shifts are from 2pm until 10pm, and on weekends there are also 6am until 2pm shifts. For each shift there is one full-time Peruvian worker and one volunteer. While there I supervise and help the kids with their school work, play games, and generally chat with and keep an eye on the kids, as well as anything else that might come up. For example, this week I took three of the boys to the funeral of a 14 year old boy who was stabbed in a street fight. The kids knew him from their time living on the streets. He had come to the night shelter a few times and Los Cachorros was trying to help him with his drug addiction. After an enjoyable first few weeks with the kids, the funeral was a stark reminder of the harsh realities of life for kids on the street.

If you want further information, here is the official website of Los Cachorros - http://www.loscachorros.nl/, and here is a (more interesting) website with video clips set up by one of the other volunteers - http://www.calletv.nl/. They are in Spanish and Dutch but I´m sure you´ll figure it out!

Monday, April 5, 2010

Semana Santa

Ayacucho, PERU: 27 March - 4 April 2010

From the start of my travels my target was to get to Ayacucho for the end of March to begin my volunteering. So now that I´m here it means the first seven-month phase of travelling is completed and I´m starting the second six-month phase of living in Peru.
I am living in a great apartment with four other volunteers - two Dutch couples (the charity I´m working for is Dutch). For €90 a month I have my own large ensuite room and we have a rooftop terrace with great views - looking down on the city in one direction and up at the hills in the other.
The thing for which Ayacucho is most famous is its Semana Santa (Holy Week) celebrations, so my arrival was perfectly timed. My first week was filled with watching traditional dancing, viewing several processions, going to a music festival, and partying on the streets for the Easter Saturday running of the bulls. It was a really fun week and a great introduction to Ayacucho.