The children we teach around Villa El Salvador (in Peru) come from a range of backgrounds; some are working children who attend MANTHOC’s open-to-all organisation (read more about MANTHOC in our previous blog), some attend classes at Casa de la Juventud and Vida y Esperanza. Others come and go throughout what is currently their summer holidays.
Besides having spent the past 5 weeks teaching English to some charming and very attentive children, we have also encountered enthusiasm beyond the learning environment.
In addition to teaching, my fellow team members are delighted to share the experience of some of their other placements around Villa El Salvador. Not only have we taught, but learned a lot through the customs and spirit of the people here in Peru. Here is an insight into a standard week of their work.
Vida y Esperanza - literally translated as Life and Hope - is where I have been spending my Tuesday mornings the past few weeks. It is a centre for children, where summer classes are offered, and a day care nursery for younger children. Some of our volunteers teach English there. It was set up by Sister Clara and the local community, funded by a contact in Sweden.
It is a basic building, with fewer facilities than you would find in a British crèche, so you can imagine these children require a lot of attention to keep them occupied for lack of toys to do the job for us.
Adulto Major is a an organisation which supports elderly people in the local community in friendship and health providing social activities, arts and crafts and chatting over a hearty evening meal. My work here varies from working in the kitchen, supporting them during afternoon activities and engaging with people to relive their memories.
It was set up by a local church and the organisation was recently awarded health-monitoring equipment for its work within the community which will have a direct impact on the wellbeing of the visitors.
For the past few weeks I have been working in a health centre in one of the poorest areas of Villa El Salvador. Health care in Peru isn’t free, and the centre I am volunteering at plays a really important role in the community here as it is partially funded by the Church and so provides people with access to quality health care for more affordable prices.
So far, I have been involved in lab work, administration (not such an easy task when there are over 26,000 paper files all in bin bags in one tiny room) and have worked with Monju to design and create appointment cards for the centre. My favourite bit so far has been being able to interact with the staff there and seeing the positive impact their work has on the community.
I have been working in the Comedors of Villa El Salvador, whereby I have helped with the preparation of food to feed the community. It is satisfying work because it is a form of immersing oneself in the hardships of everyday life here, and getting to know the phenomenal women who run the Comedors.
It is for this reason that the experience is a valuable one, not only because I am providing them with help. The spirit of a self-sufficient community that is generated from these community kitchens is one that I and others can certainly learn from and apply within other contexts, and maybe even our own contexts within the UK.
Every Monday I work in Los Martincitos which is a respite centre for the elderly. Our Peruvian padre, Tony (who we also live with), is the manager of this incredible establishment. It delivers a range of support, including exercise activities, therapy, crafts, musical events, health care, meals, and above all, acts as a social area and place of shelter for the older people of Villa El Salvador to come together.
It gains volunteer support because of its welcoming environment, and the demand for help always exists. Personally, it’s one of my favourite organisations to work in because ‘los abuelitos’ (the little grandparents) are always smiling – it makes me want to be with them every day hearing stories of their eventful and inspiring lives. Viva Martincitos!
Photo: Stephanie Criddle working at the health centre.