Thursday, October 31, 2013

Rebecca's Project Reflections - the Children's Centre

We've been in La Paz for 5 weeks now and it has flown by. We have been on project for three of those weeks. My main focus is the children's centre in Portada Triangular (PT) where I plan ten weeks of activities related to planting and nutrition-an exciting challenge!

Child with radish seeds
When we first went to PT for an induction, I remember feeling nervous because I couldn't really speak spanish and my only experience of children aged three to six years old was with my little cousins back home. As we went in to the centre, the children were so excited to see us, which straight away put me at ease. While I still felt anxious about my lack of Spanish, I soon realised that play is a universal icebreaker, and the language barrier quickly became secondary. Playing with the children helped break down any preconceptions they had of us as 'outsiders', as they began to see us as individuals who were coming in three days a week to make their afternoons even brighter.

When I got told my main responsibility was the children's centre, I was really happy.  As well as enjoying the time I had spent with the children, it felt like a personal challenge to create a ten week lesson plan while also ensuring that the rest of the team where prepared and supported in the workshops they delivered. I have had to plan sessions with young people in the UK, but never for a ten week.

This week we began our first major activity, which involved the children planting radishes. We did this early on in the project so that we would be able to see the radish grow as the children did the same. I did the planting with two children at a time so it gave me opportunity to have more individual time getting to know them. While the session took a lot of preparation and work, it was worth it when we saw how happy they were to have something to call their own and look after. The children hadn't done anything like this before, and their excitement and smiling faces were infectious. This session is the beginning of a number of activities we plan to run on plants and nutrition. 
Radishes planted by the children
 As well as simply planting vegetables, we want the children to understand the process behind their actions.  To enable this, Edel (in-country volunteer) and I, have created a song which explains the life cycle of a plant. It's really rewarding going in to the centre and hearing them sing parts of the song by themselves.

The children's centre has really broadened my way of thinking and my preconceptions of children. It doesn't matter if I'm in Wales or La Paz, children are the same everywhere and all are entitled to education, play and good nutrition.

Written by Rebecca Soundy
Edited by Sarah Cassidy

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