Monday, March 16, 2015

Our last week in the project

By Anjali Davidson

Our last week of work has been filled to the brim with different things to do. With our guided learning on Friday, our ‘Action Sunday’ planning and our final three workshops throughout the week, as well as preparing for a celebratory dinner at Chiara’s house on Friday evening  we haven’t had much time left to eat or sleep!

This Monday was a day off, on which a few of us took the opportunity to go to Tiawanaku; a lovely start to a busy week! On Tuesday morning we kicked off with a ‘motivation and communications’ workshop at the Arco Iris Girls’ Centre; Niñas Obrajes. The girls are brilliant, and are always so ready to work with us. They loved the drawing activities we did with them, which are all still decorating their ‘Audio-Visual room’ and I think each of us took something very important away from the experience. My favourite activity was the one where we each wrote our name on the top of a sheet of paper, and everyone had to write nice things about each other. There were some girls trying to write in English for us, and some of the things they wrote each other, particularly for the psychologist, were heart-warming and each seemed thoroughly proud to have theirs read back to them.  
"You were born to be real, not perfect"
In the afternoon we continued planning our Action Sunday. It will be held at Casa Esperanza, for about 151 people and will be like a fair, themed along our workshops. On the pitch they have will be rugby and football games, as well as a mural on one of the longer walls. Inside the building and in the front of the centre we will have fairground games, such as throw the water balloon through the hoop and a coconut shy (although the kids won’t be winning the coconuts, as it was established that 100 coconuts might be a bit above our budget!). There will also be a biscuit decorating stand; a flower craft shop (in which the children can plant a sunflower for themselves, to represent personal growth, happiness and positive values); a yoga, reiki and meditation room and also a crèche for the children of the teenage mothers’ centre.
Our second workshop of the week was on the topic of Love and Relationships, at the request of the people who run the centre. I think this may have been the workshop that pushed the entire group the most (in terms of comfort zones) as it involved role-playing (in Spanish!); a talk on why independence was important (from the point of view of a couple of the girls in our group) and a lot of quite personal discussions (e.g. has anyone ever made you feel bad about your body, has anyone ever tried to control the way you dressed and how, have you ever lost trust for your partner in a relationship and why etc) but I think it was a massive success. It has definitely been a real eye opener for us and them to see how important it is to be your own person and try your best not to let others get you down or affect the way you see yourself.

Our final workshop was that evening, after a long day of hard work. Despite being tired, I think everyone managed to get their energy up once we arrived at the Aldea which belongs to Fundacion Alalay, about an hour out of the city. The kids at this centre are filled with energy, and it can be quite hard to get them to concentrate but overall I think the workshop went very well. The kids really enjoyed the painting and mural they created came out beautifully. The outcome of just two workshops, I think, has been much more positive than anticipated, and for us to have had the experience of working with them has been a huge learning curve and something I am sure we will carry with us for the rest of our lives.

All in all, I think the dinner we’ll hold at Chiara’s house this Friday will be thoroughly well deserved. After weeks now of workshops in which we’ve baked in the sun; completed multiple rounds of circuit training and football games within a day; managed to successfully meditate with a room of energetic, loud and bouncy teenage boys; role-played healthy and unhealthy relationships in front of a room of 15 young girls, in Spanish; and in workshops in which we occasionally had fewer materials than required (our improv skills are out of this world!), a few Yorkshire puddings and a good apple crumble will be just what we need!

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