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Friday, May 16, 2014

ChildFund’s Centres – A Learning Curve

A reflection from Adam and Jade


Five weeks have passed since we first arrived in La Paz and after a week of training the workload has steadily increased. The ChildFund team are at centres Monday to Thursday; we work in five different placements, which comes with a host of challenges.

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Jade: Las Lomas is a vibrant, well-established centre. It takes about half an hour to get there from our office in La Paz. It’s extremely pretty and is painted a bright yellow which really stands out amongst the red brick of the surrounding area.

Las Lomas children's centre
The educators and management have all been extremely welcoming and accommodating to us and are a pleasure to work with. So far we have been working on some human rights activities I prepared for the children, such as drawing a rabbit and thinking about what its basic needs are and how they as humans have similar needs which must be met for a pleasant existence. The children seem to enjoy these activities, however my lack of Spanish at times can make things difficult. We’re now moving on to working on our Oral Health module and will be trialling activities which will then be passed on to the next cohort. The children in Las Lomas are truly wonderful to spend time with and are all full of energy. Because we have a slightly different group of children every time we visit I’m finding it hard to get to know individual children however as a whole they are a fantastic group of kids; many of them have a streak of cheekiness in them which is both adorable and slightly frustrating. One boy has a penchant for making extremely loud screeching noises at the most inappropriate times. He’s said he wants to be a monkey. Internally I applaud his originality and confidence; externally I have to express disapproval. It’s a tough life.

MariaRenee facilitating an activity with the energetic kids at Las Lomas

Adam: My main centre is Avance Communtario which is well established in the local community. The biggest challenge here is that it is impossible to know how many children will turn up for a session and what age they might be. Last week for instance I was teaching Dr. Seuss’ wonderful poem ‘Green Eggs and Ham’ and different interpretations of the more philosophical points within. In my first session I had just two teenagers turn up; this created an atmosphere in which it was easy to ask them their true opinions on the text and to get them to consider such things as whether or not it is acceptable for Sam-I-Am to continue to push the narrator to try green eggs and ham (even if it turned out that the narrator did not like them* – they decided that giving the experience was more valuable than any perceived wrong on Sam’s part; being the great nuisance that he is). When in the afternoon thirty children between the ages of 5 and 14 turned up, any possibility of a useful discussion was thrown screaming from the window. This is not to say the session went particularly badly; I still feel the more attentive children gained an understanding of the poem however it was difficult to measure the impact whilst trying to keep all of the children on the same page. We ended up drawing our interpretations of the poems, which quickly devolved into drawing whatever the children wanted. I feel the difference in the two sessions highlights one of the challenges in all the centres; it is impossible to be aware of the impact a session will have before it has begun. The learning curve seems to be: go with the flow or sink to a watery grave, muttering about the lack of control. I’ve always been on the relaxed side so I’m finding it to be great fun really!

*A theoretical question of course. He loves them like I love cake.

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The other centres we work at include Jilanataqui, Uni and Las Ninas. The first two are badly equipped but the entire team works at Uni so we manage to have a lot of fun with the kids and Ana (the main volunteer at Jilanataqui) is great at keeping her children task-focused. Compared to our other centres it is a much smaller group of children however our presence there is newly established so a lot of ground work needs to be put in. Las Ninas has a large group of older girls and just a few boys so Eilidh, the main volunteer there seems to have a lot of fun as well as fulfilling more of an educational role; talking about relationships and what the girls want from later life. All the centres involve a juggling act of entertainment and teaching but I feel we are all growing into our somewhat undefinable role and enjoying it very much! 


Written by Adam Jones and Jade Woolley
Edited and translated into Spanish by Kelly-Marie Roberts

To read this refection in Spanish, click here: 
http://icsbolivia.internationalservice.org/2014/05/centros-de-childfund-una-curva-de.html

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