Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Heat, rope jumping and Resilience

Finally the weather picked up with what we could expect for the season: it has been hot, sunny and even though we experienced heavy rain and power cuts last week it has been perfect weather for outdoor activities! 

As everyday the mornings are spent at school, currently being one I am assisting a different grade per day. Today it was the first grade and yesterday the second…..a lot of ‘la, le, li, lo, lu and ma, me, mi, mo, mu’.I didn’t know how heart melting and, simultaneously, exigent, was to teach little kids how to read and count. Even after re-explaining for half an hour the meaning of the letters in a word and that if there is an ‘M’ followed by an ‘I’ how do they sound together? If you know ‘M’ and if you know ‘I’…..then this little fellow, with half of his primary teeth missing, smiles while swinging his/her legs and says ‘LI!’…ok, not an ‘L’, it is an ‘M’...and we start all over again.

As for the afternoon activities we had Anne visiting for a couple of days, and she prooved to be a Mandala master, it was fun to see the kids colouring them but even more to draw it and having the kids giving it a try too! They were fascinated with her boyfriend, Martin. It is true they haven't seen a lot of male volunteers lately.

Martin and the kids

Mandalas in the making!

Last Friday the kids collected rocks on the way from the volunteers house to the school- yes, they came to ‘pick me up’.The rocks were  coloured for decorative purposes. It wasn’t that easy to find the best rocks to paint (egg-shaped and flat), but the kids worked it out. Once they had enough with it some asked to play UNO cards – that’s one popular game here – and this was how we’ve finalized the week.

Rock Painting 1
Rock Painting 2

Yesterday we played ‘Riesgolandia’, a board game raising awareness regarding natural disasters, building up both preparedness and resilience, we still had time for some rope jumping after!

Riesgolandia :)

Today…. well, today some kind of community celebration took place.... so only a couple of kids came. The 'plan' was to play STOP – a word game and a great way to practise both writing skills and Spanish vocabulary – but mainly little ones came today, so no STOP….there was paper and pen, so they draw…..I tried to motivate them with an educational theme: ‘who is your favourite super hero, and why?’ Batman, Superman, and Spiderman are strangers over here, they just shrugged their shoulders and said ‘saber…’ the typical Guatemalan way of saying ‘who knows…’.So, no chance to have the little ones reflecting on bravery, courage, strength, intelligence….still they draw what their world is about: nature and family. Certainly, bravery, courage, strenght and intelligence can also be found there.

It is funny that over here the less you prepare and worry, the more activities work out. It’s not the disasters’ type of resilience but a different kind, maybe as useful as the first one…

We are cooking some manual activities for the next few days – though STOP and super heroes are still on the pipeline, for whenever there is a chance to do so…. Do not miss our Facebook updates!
See you soon and all the best from Nueva Mercedes.

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Activities, games and ideas

What a week....

So many activities, games and new ideas!

Giant cucumber plant!
Baby vegetables
Last Wednesday we had the opportunity to visit some of our families' kitchen gardens, and we found a myriad of situations: giant cucumber plants blossoming next to half-dead radish…. Some families had lost all their efforts due to too much fertilizer, too much shadow, too much sun, lateness in changing baby plants to wider spaces….… farming has a science of its own, and we all tried to keep a positive attitude: what is alive can be kept, half-dead maybe saved, and fully dead renewed!

In this spirit, we also distributed some more seeds to families interested in augmenting the diversity in their kitchen gardens. Tomorrow we will go on our weekly visit (if the rain doesn’t block us from doing so) so keep an eye on our Facebook account to have the latest news!

During our PM activities we did some drawings and played outdoor games, Thursday we could practice our vocabulary and imagination by playing ‘Hangman’ alongside with some other outdoor activities. Friday was ‘ día del cariño’ the local Valentine’s celebration, cleverly turned into an opportunity for children to show their affection to colleagues by exchanging gifts - 'secret friend' - while hugging the secret friend.
Cake shared by grado 1 students
Grado 3 students and their manually made butterfly candy container/wrapping
Grado 2 unwrapping their gifts!
As in my own culture we do show people our appreciation by the amount of food we offer them, here the same proved to be valid. I was expecting small toys, cards, maybe some school material, jumping out of the carefully wrapped packages…. And I was surprised when I saw affection here is also attached to the stomach: chips, juices, candy, lollipops, soda, chocolates…there was comfort food everywhere! The kids didn’t blink before enjoying their gifts as they shared a morning of playful and affective activities at school!

Typical 'día del cariño' gifts
Taking advantage of the mood, we focused our PM activities in creating Origami hearts to be given to parents as a gift for the occasion. Once they learned how to do it , the kids were so enthusiastic that they were unstoppable, until we ran out of origami paper! After completing our ‘día del cariño’ mission, we played two handfuls of Uno turns and we all went home tired, but happy! 

Día del cariño Origami activity
Día del cariño Origami activity

These last two days the temperatures have gone high, after an historic low during the past two weeks, and I think that had an impact in the attendance to our activities. Today they were up for another ‘hangman’ session, followed by treasure hunting and some other games. Sadly, the attendance of girls to the afternoon activities is still much lower than wished, today was an exception as there were few kids yet half were girls!
Hangman game tuesday 16.02.2016

Other ongoing activities: setting up a library with Spanish/English books generously donated to Li Ch’utam, where our friends can borrow books for any taste and finding solutions for our courageous, but old, laptops, that seemingly cannot cope anymore with our precious educational games.

The forecast until Sunday is rain, so let’s see how we can keep our little energetic friends busy in case the rain prevent us from enjoying the freedom and dust that you can only find outdoors, or in a tropical forest.