Sunday, January 11, 2009

Christmas party

So the last day of our mission at Bruce Peru Cusco has arrived on the 16th of December, which was the last day in school. We decided to celebrate the closing of the school with a big party for all our kids, volunteers, teachers and the most important local sponsors and dedicated it to Christmas with inviting a real Santa Clause with loads of presents. The kids have been preparing already for the last two weeks with a little performance so we also tried to do our best; we seemed to have loads of luck lately receiving help from all around without even asking for it. A week before the event I was walking down our street in Cusco to the laundry when one of the neighbour hostel owners greeted me and asked if we needed some help for our Christmas party. He is one of the members of the Confraternidad del Señor de los Temblores, and with a little bit of co-operation we ended up receiving the traditional hot chocolate and Christmas cakes with presents to all our children as a donation, though I shall state we are independent from any religious organization.

Complying with the Peruvian time schedule we finally began our celebration about 45 minutes late but all our kids nicely washed and dressed!!! They behaved so well as we never saw them and the room was full with dwarf like little creatures with their red and white Santa Claus hats on their heads. They sang and danced traditional Peruvian and Quechua songs and dropped their jaws when our favorite Spanish teacher entered the room with a perfect act in a perfect Santa Clause outfit (thanks to Helen and Andy, the owners of The Real McCoy pub, where we organized our best charity pub quizzes). All of them had a little quiz to answer seated on the lap of the Papa Noel before receiving their presents and we learned that the best deed of most of our kids during this year was that they washed their cat, bless them!!! So after we run out of gas to boiled the hot chocolate and had to change also the stowe to a bigger one we finally got through the celebration with dancing and a lot of photos with the kids, who we saw probably the last time...

To properly say farewell to all our staff we invited everybody to the volunteer centre for a traditional Hungarian spicy porkolt lunch with hot wine. After we all got tipsy and cheerful we received the nicest present from our Peruvian colleagues; they all gave one by one - including our cook - a little speech saying thanks and wishing us the best wishing that one day we would return. Indeed it would be the best time to start working together now, that we got through the hard part and we learnt to know each other - and the language! But as my father used to say always it is best to quit the party at its best moment... So we left with the good feeling, that we found a new director, Mario top take over the centre from us and so a new home for our beloved bunny! Bless Monika, our German neighbour, who was so sweet to take in Chaplin with such care and love, though the little bastard greeted her by peeing on her mat!

So we left Cusco with Bryan, our volunteer from the U.S. the same night with a bus to Arequipa to enjoy the last days in Peru with a breathtaking canyon trip to Colca!

Monday, November 24, 2008

My Experience at Huancaro

I remember feeling nervous on my first volunteering day at Huancaro - I thought the kids might be shy or not interact with me because my Spanish wasn´t great. However, I had nothing to be worried about because as the taxi was driving up the big hill up to the school, I saw 4 or 5 kids running right beside us with huge smiles on their faces…and they were so excited to give us hugs and kisses as soon as we got out of the taxi – even me, even though I was new! After that, the day flew by.

The general day goes like this:

We arrive at the school (at 9:00) and the kids wash their hands and faces…

They eat breakfast that we bring for them…

They grab their toothbrush & brush their teeth…

The kids bring the benches back in…

School begins…


School time again…

School ends (at noon) with the students getting in line and
answering a question to receive a piece of fruit…

...and we walk down the hill to get a taxi, but still have fun along the way!

A couple of my favourite memories so far:

Some kids in the class were having trouble with their ¨right¨and ¨left¨. So, Berta (the Peruvian teacher) tied yellow string on each of the kids´right wrist...after that, when she said ¨right hand!¨ or ¨left hand!¨, the kids knew which hand to put up. I loved it. And so did the kids.

Obviously it is difficult for kids to concentrate for a ong time. So, when Professora Berta feels the kids need a break, she puts on a song (always the same song so the kids know it well!) and we have a dance break – walking around the tables in a circle, jumping up and down, waving our hands in the air, etc. Sometimes the kids get so into it that they end up yelling the words which is tough on the ears, but always puts a smile on our faces.

During play time, the kids have grown fond of me playing tag with them. They love running away from me and (of course) I love being able to run around with them! I also tried to learn how to play marbles with the boys in our class...I sort of understood the game – not quite – and my accuracy with the marbles was definitely not as high as the boys.

The kids, as may be expected, are in love with cameras. As soon as they see one, they want to get in the photo...once they are all grouped up, instead of saying ¨cheese¨ to make themselves smile, they say ¨Whiskeyyyyyyy¨and start waving their hands at the camera.

Monday, November 10, 2008

New Christmas Campaign

Some of our previous volunteers came up with the idea of another campaign to help get some donations for Christmas to the kids. Actually December in Peru it is also the last month of school year. Right before Christmas two month summer holidays start for the kids. We would like to have a graduation party and at the party give little presents for the kids. We have already quite a few from our previous events but still need some. Last weekend we have designed the poster below and got it printed in a very nice format. We kind of became experts in getting great posters printed. Our Sandra is again going to be all over the town :))

Christmas gift collection

The idea of the campaign is to get 40 hotels and restaurants as partners where people will be able to leave their donations. Once in a while we are going to pick up the donations. Since there are nine volunteers at the moment it should not be that big of a job. The first reactions from prospective hotels and restaurants are very encouraging.

We have also managed to agree to have a party at one of the more popular venues in Cusco where some part of the proceeds will go for our cause. Perhaps we will also manage to introduce Beer Pong in the place where we hold our pub quizzes with the proceeds going to us.

About the donations:

We have to say we are VERY PROUD of all the people who have donated money to our kids. Thanks to you we make their lives a little bit less miserable and give them a bit more chances for the future! It is kind of amazing because all in all we have collected almost USD 4800. Just as we have targeted. Honestly we did not really believe it will be possible and here we are - in the beginning of November and we have reached our target!!!!!

It is almost the end of school year and we are preparing the kids for the entry exams to the state schools. It also means that we have to pay a small yearly fee, get uniforms, notebooks and pencils for kids. Since during the break of January and February we will have to recruit new kids for our summer school - condensed program helping kids who would probably not make it to the 1st grade without our 2 months preparatory summer school - we are also going to have new expenses.

But with all our new events in the pipeline, new volunteers and their networks we hope to raise still more money therefore we have increased our target on our fundraising page!!!

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Moving schools in Puquin

So we have 3 schools in total in Cusco and about 40 kids. One of our schools is in an area called Puquin and a few weeks ago we were given notice and told that we would have to find another hovel to teach in.

After a bit of coming and going, the teacher in Puquin, Roger, and our social assistant Haydee found an alternative location for us. It´s an equally glamorous hole with 4 walls, no water, no bathroom and no windows! It´s got great views though!... and it's not next to the road like the old school.

There was a timely strike in Cusco a few days before we had to move schools so we spent our time decorating and preparing it for the kids and turning into a virtual aquarium.
We had help from our new volunteer Severine and she brought a friend too. In the end there was 5 of us, plus a little help from a local boy that Nelly befriended. We got it all done in a few hours, all ready for the move on the friday.

The new school and the old school aren´t actually that far away from each other, but as luck would have it the road was blocked that day with roadworks so we had to move the furniture and everything on foot. The first thing we saw was lots of little people on the horizon, carrying a table. From then on the grown-ups took over and for the next 2 hours lugged tables, chairs and a lot of 'stuff' from one to the other in the mid-day sun. I felt like was in the world's strongest man contest....until I realised I was carrying two children's chairs!!

When the kids saw their new classroom they went nuts, and all the cutting and sticking and painting had been worth it!

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Judgement Day

So Saturday 27th September arrived and ran me over. Rita and Tomek left for the shores of Brazil on Friday. Rita announced their departure on Friday afternoon at the weekly meeting with the teachers and the room fell silent and so my three weeks as 'la directora' began. My first full day was the event we've been preparing for for weeks at Club Cusco.

Here are the edited highlights.... At 6.30 myself and the little chef, Joel went shopping for the fresh ingredients he needed for the lunch. We bought fish for the cerviche, and then got in trouble with the police bnecause it turns out that 4 months of the year in Peru it's illegal to buy that kind of fish!?! We spent over half an hour in a police van answering questions and filling out documents....for buying fish! Things carried on in a similar fashion the whole day, but from the outside looking in, it was a success. Club Cusco gave some invitations out for free by mistake, ten they only set the room up for 60 people, when we expected 150, then the chef left the building just as we were about to serve the lunch and then we ran out of food an hour and a half before the event finished!

Having said that, the teachers were all fanatastic! Everyone worked so hard. Roger even had his haircut especially so he could fit in with the elegant dresscode!

Nelly and her daughter set up a jewellery stall to display all the many beautiful things we made. Unfortunately the rich people of Cusco are too cheap to buy any of it, but we have other plans for the fruits of our labours...

Everyone seemed to enjoy the food. I didn't manage to get any pics of a plate of food, but I guess that's a good sign...

DJ Didiez Cruz played all day for us for free, bless his soul and also took some complaints from Bruce and Ana Tere in good spritis.

The Salsa dancers came on at the beginning of the event and really opened it with a bang! Everyone was transfixed by them and they really looked beautiful.

Afterwards eveyone ate the lovely food and enjoyed the toned-down music and begrudgingly parted with two soles each to take part in our spectacular raffle. Our brave teacher Saida got up twice wiht the microphone, once to announce the raffle and once to thank everyone for coming. She was really brave becasue you could see she was nervous, but she did it anyway.

Somehow we didn't raise very much money (largely due to the stingy members of club cusco who paid half price for entrance and then claimed that the small crowd they brought with them were all family members who were also entitled to the reduced entrance fee). On the bright side all the money we made was profit and goes directly to helping children and we also got bags and bags of presents for the kids, which we're saving for Christmas presents. We also made alot of great contacts with people in Cusco....of which my favourite is the lovely Christian, one of our sponsors from a local club called Roots...he has a very special, low voice...hamanahamana!

The day was a success and everyone enjoyed themselves. I don't count myself in that category, but personally, I feel like grew a a good few inches that day. I'll never forget our day at Club Cusco and I am so thankful to everyone who helped Bruce Peru Cusco that all have your place in heaven!

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Swimming pool day

Before we made it out of Cusco we had taken the kids from all schools to the local swimming pool. It has been our first time since we came to Cusco that we took the kids out (generally due to financial reasons). It has also been Peruvian kids day - so a good reason to undertake something special. Of course it required lots of coordination and we were quite concerned how we are going to handle our quite hyperactive group.

The task proved not as strenous as we have assumed in the beginning. All in all we ended up with around 25 kids which showed up with signed permissions from their parents and we set off to the swimming pool. One group ended quite late at the pool due to a minor accident of the bus they were travelling on. Nothing at all happened to them but they arrived an hour late. All the kids happily went to the dressing room though two did not reappear from it - there was no way to make them stop crying and agree to come to the swimming pool. Already in the swimming pool though the kids were very obedient and did not require excessive amount of attention. Everybody had a small sandwich after the event and we took the kids back to their homes...quite funny that you can fit around 12 kids into one taxi in Cusco...

All in all no casulties - except one kid with bleeding lip (happened still before she made it to the swimming pool). The bad thing was that the father of this little girl was especially worried about her going to the swimming pool. I guess it is some kind of Murphy's law...Nothing else comes to my mind when such things happen.

In the center Chaplin has been at work - working hard to make sure that the rabbit of one of our teacher's gets back pregnant. I must admit that our Chaplin is much more fit and smart than Chaplina :))) In fact everybody is looking forward to her departure next Monday...right now Chaplin lost all interest in interacting with us and she was making a mess in the patio...

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Countdown for the show

The good thing about this week is that we were having all teachers in the schools. At least one of the teachers is very good - the other is better than the teacher that we had before but we are not sure she can manage the whole class in case she has nobody to help her... at least she has great respect in the eyes of the kids...this definitely helps to keep order in the class. Volunteers are generally abused by the kids - the kids do with them whatever they want. I am the best example of it - unfortunately.

Rita on the other hand is now fully immersed in creating jewellery - our kids are supposed to start putting together necklaces and bracelets which we are to sell at our culinary event. So far though it seems that Rita takes most fun of it - and secretly told me that if we cannot sell them at the event she will appropriate them for herself :))

There has been lots of work that had to be done for the Club Cusco culinary event - and our next week does not seen any lighter in this respect. Hopefully, everything will go right next Saturday... As to the event - on Saturday we should have received the invitations and A2 posters for the event from the print house. It has been quite a battle with the print house to get what we want and when we want - honestly we are helpless what concerns not keeping promises. Anyway it is our own design and we will try to post both here on the blog though they will probably look not as nice as in reality. We will have them printed on nice glossy paper (poster) and excellent paper especially for the invitations (no idea what it is called in English).

Next week in general will be full of extracurricular events. As mentioned on Monday Chaplin the bunny is going to have a date - our new teacher brings Mrs. Chaplin so that . On Tuesday we will have a Peruvian Children's day so we decided that we are going to take the kids to the swimming pool - I suspect that it is going to be adventures for two reasons at least: first previous directors told us that last time there were quite big problems before they let the big group in as the kids were not exactly clean looking so big washing took place. Secondly controlling those lets say 30 kids at a swimming pool might prove quite challenging. On Wednesday we have a pub quiz and a visit of Bruce Peru founder and his wife. It came as a surprise for us...can say that we provoked it as we have written quite a long email addressing the problems we face here and we think the whole organization faces - we got a very positive response to it and request to meet and discuss how can our proposals be implemented... The great thing is that they will be able to personally participate in the Saturday Culinary show.

On Thursday then we will probably visit all the schools with our visitors...On Saturday as mentioned before we will have our culinary event in Club Cusco. In the meantime of course we have to sell 70 tickets to the event, go over our problems and accomplishments with the founder of the organization and make sure our Peruvian Chef does not forget anything for the event.

At the event we are planning to make an exhibition with photos of the kids - that is why we have asked people who have formally had experience with us to join our flickr group and add their pictures. We will choose the best and make an exhibition - of course giving credit to the authors of the pictures. We are looking forward to all pictures and more comments from all of you.