Yesterday after our volunteer orientation with Horti, we headed back to our house to chill as it had been a very exhausting day. We had dinner in a local small cafe / restaurant before having probably our earliest night so far! (We were in bed reading by about 8pm…)
This morning when we woke up we were both so excited for our volunteer work to begin! We chose to volunteer in a kindergarten just outside of Cusco instead of a in two different schools close by as we felt that we’ll have more of an impact on the lives of those from the village and also for us, we can learn more about their culture in that kindergarten. It is in a place called Ccorao, which is about a 40minute journey by public bus. The village is situated in the mountains and it is very rural and poor. All of the children are under the age of 5 and I think the youngest is 3 years old and their kindergarten is from 9am until 1pm. This morning as we were sitting on the bus, driving the winding roads up the mountain watching the absolutely beautiful views and scenery of the whole of Cusco city, neither Juliet or I knew what to expect.
We arrived at the school with Horti, who had taken us there to introduce us and make sure we didn’t get lost! Horti was an immediate hit with the children who have met her lots of times before and they all ran over to hug her. After introducing Juliet and I, the children then began to sing us all different songs that they’d learnt while they’d been there – with all the actions! Their last song was a welcome song where they included our names and welcomed us into their town, culture and school.
After the introductions, Juliet and I went into different class rooms and the minute the teacher left to take Juliet to her classroom all of the kids ran over and hugged me! They’re so tiny so they were basically hugging my legs and then all of them were pulling me in different directions to make me sit at their tables!
Juliet and I are not teachers at this kindergarten, we’re helpers. We’re basically there as extra help because there is so many children and so we assist the teachers with whatever help they need, play with the children (especially at break times!) and then we also help to serve out the food, cut up the childrens’ fruit and help open their drinks.
The children are all so sweet, every single one making a huge effort with Juliet and I, holding our hands and telling us their names. They all have so many layers on and very old looking clothes but every single one of them are so cute! Lots of the girls have amazing hairstyles, braids, plates and long curly hair and all of the little boys have sun hats that they all collect from a big bucket at break time. In Peru, especially in the small villages, the children don’t brush their teeth but spend a lot of time eating very acidic fruits (they all had backpacks full of them) and lots of fizzy drinks, such as inca cola which has about 50grams of sugar per bottle! And so most of the children have rotting or black teeth and a lot of them, even though they are only 4 or 5 years old, have missing teeth as they have fallen out due to the sugar. It’s really sad but it’s so normal for them, you can tell because a lot of the Peruvian adults have gold teeth.
Break time was so exhausting! If forgotten how much energy little kids have! After running around with them and literally having them all jump on me and throw hay at me and chase me around the garden, it was time for them to eat. Luckily they all knew the score and say down with their bowls of rice and fish to eat. There was one little girl who came out of the classroom crying and refusing to eat and after talking to the teachers, I found out she doesn’t talk, ever. She’s three years old and apparently her two brothers, also in the kindergarten, don’t speak either. She was upset because she wanted her mama but after sitting her on my lap and talking to her in absolutely rubbish Spanish basically saying don’t worry and only one more hour and eat, eat, she finally stopped crying, started smiling and ate every single last scrap of her food. After more running around, screaming, falling over, having every single (50 of them) children basically grabbing my legs until I fell over and then more laughing, tickling and spinning them around, break time was finally over! We both went back into our classrooms with our children and teacher. My class was spending the lat part of kindergarten learning shapes and colours. The teacher made a huge grid on the board where the children took it in turns drawing shapes in different colours and saying the names – I even had a go and forgot the word for pink when it was my turn!! (Ohdear) but all the children clapped for me anyways. Then with another teacher, I drew out the grid in small 21 times for all the children to use tomorrow! At 1pm the day was over and as all the kids hugged us to say bye, Juliet and I headed to the bus stop… Where we found more children with their parents also waiting for the bus and they all ran over and hugged us too! It’s only been one day and we’re already attached, it’s going to be so hard saying goodbye after these three weeks are up!
The bus dropped us off in town where Juliet and I searched for a fish and chips restaurant we’d found in the lonely planet, only to discover that it doesn’t exist anymore! So we found another restaurant had a late lunch and caught up on some wifi!
This afternoon Juliet and I have our private Spanish lessons again, they really are private as in we have our own teachers, a one on one, whereas everyone else in the school has big group lessons! We really have got the best of everything and we’re definitely volunteering in the best kindergarten so we’re very happy.