New project in Cuernavaca!
17.04.2012 - 27.04.2012
Casa HOY has a new project here in Cuernavaca! We have now partnered with the Salvation Army. Out of all of the childcare projects, this one is definitely my favorite. Although I, of all people, should understand and that every organization we work with doesn’t have the resources, in people or materials, it never stops breaking my heart to see a child with a ripped shirt playing with a pencil stub. While the Salvation Army might not have everything it needs, they make up for it by having more order to their day and kids that have been taught to help each other out.
I’ve already written my post about discipline, so I won’t go down that road. But here are some details that make for, in my opinion, a more organized experience with children. Number 1, introductions. Again, I’ve already talked about that, but this time the program director lined up the children before lunch and introduced us, said what we’d be doing, and told us to behave. Number 2, starting with an organized activity. At the Salvation Army, since we’re working with the children on an afternoon schedule, the first thing we do is have lunch with them. Children are assigned tables, given permission to have more food and say grace before and after the meal. Maybe you don’t believe in God, but it doesn’t hurt to thank someone, at least the cook, for your food. Number 3, homework. You can’t play until your homework is done, same rule at my house. Again, children are organized at tables by grade level. The director said students aren’t allowed to leave for school unless they have a pencil, eraser, pencil sharpener and crayon with them. And that’s how they must come home. Number 4, consequences. You fight over a bike? No more bike. You say a bad word, you’re not playing anymore. I made sure I was on my best behavior, too.
We spent the afternoon focusing on homework help, re-learning math functions ourselves and helping kids color. All suggestions to play Duck, Duck, Goose were ignored when the door to the vacant lot next door was open and kids piled out to go play fútbol. I reveled in a simple ball toss with some 5-year-olds, thankful I didn’t have to kick around a soccer ball. (I somehow ALWAYS get hurt). Casa HOY volunteer from England did join in a game however, finishing the day up cherry-cheeked and ready to down a bottle of water. Our other volunteer, from Australia, took a more low-key approach and colored with children. There was always a group huddled around her, asking questions about where she was from, did she have kids. The usual.
I am thrilled by this opportunity to work with Salvation Army. There will be ups and downs at this project site as well, but a great first day is always inspiring. Our volunteers will be working here for two weeks of their participatory experience.