Our month with MSH in Peru has gone so quickly and I cannot belive that we will soon be packing our bags and leaving Ollantaytambo. We have had such a busy last couple of weeks securing places at a nearby specialist school for disabled children for several of the children MSH and Awamaki have contacted during the disabled outreach campaign.
The four children who were to be the guinea pigs for the scheme last week were Sayury,Luis Alberto, Lourdes and Jasmira. None of the children were attending school because their families did not have the money or resources necessary to send them. All four of the children arrived promptly to meet us to set off for school. When we arrived I was blown away by how lovely the school was, it is set behind a wall, with gardens and the classrooms are idyllic looking thatched huts. There is play equipment and even a cow and chickens! The school was set up by a British NGO and is the only one in the area for disabled children. It provides lessons in life skills as well as more traditional skills such as maths and reading and provides vital services such as physiotherapy. It also provides milk and lunch free of charge for each child, every day.
It is hard to over emphasise the difference the school makes to the children’s lives by giving them a place to socialize and play, gain confidence and independence and learn. Without this school, the children would spend their days at home or at their parent’s work place.
The manager of the school kindly accepted Alex and I to volunteer at the school. We have each been assigned a classroom and have really enjoyed helping the teachers in any small way we can. The school day starts with games for all the children like passing a ball round a circle or a game that involves a cat that even after several goes still remains a mystery to me! The children certainly enjoy it though! In the class that I have been helping in, the children have been learning letters and numbers and doing practical things like drawing pictures for mothers day.
Apart from helping out at the school we have been frantically trying to help Leander with the administrative tasks she needs help with before we leave. We have also taken over the home visit schedule for Alex, a little boy with cerebral palsy, from the Awamkai volunteers. Alex is 13 and is so bright and responsive but spends his days lying in bed because he does not yet have a wheelchair and his mother is often out at work. One of the things the partnership is working towards is getting him a wheelchair which is a prospect I find so exciting as he might then be able to go to school which I know he would benefit from immensely. Awamaki have also arranged for him to have a special chair made for him in the mean time which will allow him to sit up and engage more with his environment.
I have enjoyed so much working with the disabled children out here, learning about the way their illnesses affect them and getting to know them all. I have had great fun playing with them and being able to engage with them. Most of all a lot of them have a great sense of fun and playfulness, as children do, which is a very rewarding and fun environment to be around.