Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Proyecto Jardin

My name is Francesca and I am part of the Childfund team working at a centre called CESDI in the Chuquiaguillo area of La Paz.  My main role in this centre has been assisting the educators running sessions for a group of adolescents (13-17 years old) and a group of children (6-12 years old).  We run sessions that children attend before or after school on a variety of topics from leadership and sexual health to drama and arts and crafts.  About a month or so in to working at the centre, I decided to create an individual project working on the garden at the centre.  CESDI has a massive space but the walls are bare and the garden is massively overgrown yet it is in such a beautiful location that I felt compelled to inject some life and colour in to the outdoor space and make it an inviting place for children and young people to come.  Another reason to do so has been to give the young people a task where they will be able to visibly see their accomplishment.

I set out a timeline of all the things I wanted us to do within the period I still had left at the centre.  The timeline does not exclude the possibilities for the centre to continue with the work in the rest of the outdoor space as we are only focusing on one section during my time.

The garden, before de-weeding!

The first and most arduous stage was de-weeding the garden!  With the help of my Cooperante Karina and some volunteers from other ICS project groups, we used spades and pick-axes to totally de-weed and remove the unwanted plants in the space we will be using.  This took at least 3 days’ worth of work to achieve but the difference is incredible!  Unfortunately, I was not as successful in recruiting the young people in the centre to come along and help in their own time.  It is hardly surprising as it is manual labour and a lot of them have homework and other jobs to do however I cannot deny that I found this frustrating and disheartening as it was something I was organising for them.  However, I really appreciated the help from the few that did come over those few days; I especially have noticed the hard work of one of the older boys who has not only come to every single session at the centre but came to every session to do manual labour and really worked hard.  The fact that he cares so much and shows so much enthusiasm makes it more than worthwhile for me.

Local youth helping de-weed the garden

Our second stage was to plan the mural.  I thought that this would be relatively easy as I wanted them to paint what they felt represented them and their community.  When I brought the group together to get some ideas about what we could draw I found them surprisingly lacking in imagination!  I tried to draw out ideas by asking them where they were from, what is typical of Bolivia, what they like to do etc. For a long time, they started at me with blank faces but once I started proposing answers such as “Cholitas”, “football” and “Illimani”; they began shouting their thoughts at me so we could create a big mind map.  After this we drew a draft idea for the mural, incorporating everything they had said to get a clear idea about where they are from and who they are.  I wanted them to show pride in themselves as individuals and also show ambition for what they could do in the future.

Our third stage is painting the mural!  This stage is starting this week, unfortunately without me, but hopefully with the help of my fellow volunteers.  The fourth and final stage will be planting in the area we have cleared in the garden.  We have decided to grow plants that can be used for making tea such as camomile and anise; this gives the students the opportunity to look after and maintain the garden after I am gone and reap the reward when the flowers have grown by making tea!

Written by Francesca Sena
Edited by Liam Hilton

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