Written by Jesica Franco on 2010-11-11. Posted in Reviews from Past Volunteers
By Olivia Puddicombe.
Last week whilst at work I was invited to observe a talk about HIV and AIDS given by Clarisa to a class of children from the next door school. Clarisa is in charge of the social work done by the salita and she works closely with many schools. The children attending this talk were aged between 11 and 12 years old. 11 seemed to me to be too young but Clarisa explained that once children are 12 it is often too late for the talks and the difference a year can make is huge. I soon understood what she meant. T
he talk was well organised and presented. Starting with the topic of HIV and AIDS Clarisa with the help of the paediatrician Guillermo explained what the two words meant, the differences between them and the ways one can catch the virus. The amount the children knew varied immensely. Some knew more than I did, whilst others thought you could catch HIV through saliva and mosquitoes! They were relieved to learn that was not possible! In discussing the ways to prevent catching the virus the talk moved on to protected sex. It was during this section of the talk that it became easy to see the difference between the 11 and the 12 year olds. Whilst the 11 year olds blushed and giggled nervously when given condoms the 12 year olds seemed much more confident and comfortable. At the end we played a game to test how much the children had learnt and I was impressed with how quickly they had taken in the mountain of information they had been given.
At the beginning of the talk Clarisa had explained that I was a student from England which was greeted by many oohs and aahs. I had been aware of stares and points throughout the talk and then when it was over, the children ran up to me and bombarded me with a thousand questions in a mixture of extremely fast Spanish or nervously broken English. ‘What is your name?’ the bravest one asked me – ‘My name is Olivia. What is your name?’ I replied.
Suddenly everyone wanted me to ask them their name and then how old they were etc etc. This continued for several minutes until harassed by their teachers they were told it was time to go. Then the questions came once again in rapid fire Spanish – What is your country like? Do you live in London? Do you know the Queen? Did you come here in an airplane? Was it scary? Etc etc! As they were being physically forced out of the door and walking down the corridor I could hear the excited shouts ‘I can’t believe we met someone from England!’ They made my day and made me feel so welcome in a country where it is easy as an English person to sometimes feel unwelcome. What great children!
Written by Jesica Franco on 2010-11-19. Posted in Reviews from Past Volunteers
By Olivia Puddicombe
This week we had the opportunity to go to La Boca, somewhere we’d never been before. We were incredibly impressed with how unique this neighbourhood was, and how greatly the touristy area varied from the local neighbourhood surrounding El Caminito. After a stroll around El Caminito and a delicious asado we were met by Johan who walked us the few blocks to El Centro Comunitario de Los Pibes. It was amazing how fast the buildings changed and how quickly it became apparent the low economic status of this section of the neighbourhood.
The centre was started over 15 years ago by 6 families who united to help each other through the financial stress of the economic crisis and since has grown to more than 100 families. With this growth the centre has also moved to a new location which impressed us with its size and capabilities. Complete with a library with books donated by the local community and the government, two kitchens, a sewing room, offices, classrooms, large area for playing sports and most recently a computer room filled with computers which Voluntario Global helped to procure. Whilst being given our tour we came across a meeting of the project directors as well as community members discussing current political issues and the centres involvement in them. It was amazing how passionate they were, and to us it seemed more like a political debate than a meeting. When the children arrived from their long day at school they greeted us with kisses and got straight to work. The centre runs a voluntary after-school help session where volunteers help the children with their homework, talk about their days, and play games. It was clear in their smiles that this was surely one of the highlights of their day, and we were amazed how focused and well behaved they were after an entire day at school.was such a treat to see how this centre manages to help the lives of so many people. It has become a fundamental part of the local community and its great to see how much Voluntario Global and the volunteers help contribute to its long term success.
Voluntario Global helps local communities by being available to discuss anything that local organizations need, and offering ideas for further change and development.
Location: General Pacheco. Buenos Aires. Argentina