Thursday, May 26, 2011

Our last few days

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.

Our first day at school

Another early start today to meet Julio the bus driver and three disabled kids; Lourdes, Juan Alberto and Jasmera in Ollantaytambo square and picking up Sayury in the next town along. It was to be their second day at the amazing Rainbow school run by a charity called ’Kiya Survivors’ in Urubamba which was especially set up for disabled children.

It was Alex and my first day today and we were amazed by how lovely the school was; like a little oasis in the middle of the town with classrooms for different activities and a garden. We started the day with games and introductions which were followed by ‘work’ sessions and lots of play. The children then have lunch before home time at half past one.

Alex helped in the ‘life skills’ class who were making pretty pen pots to give as mother’s day presents this weekend. I helped Sayuri to do colouring and the other members of her class with their letters and learning. The children at the school vary in age from 3 to 20 and all have different disabilities but they are all catered for by the teachers. Sayury ,who has cerebral palsy, had a brilliant day, managing to get herself onto the slide and making firm friends with a little girl of a similar age who can’t speak or hear.

We are looking forward to another day at school tomorrow, it was such a rewarding and fun day.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Sports Day with Anita

Last Wednesday we had an early start so that we
could get to Cusco for half 9 in the morning. After hitch-hiking in a luxury tourist bus on its way back to Cusco, we met Nelly, the MSH Social Worker outside Uriel Garcia school. We followed her inside the school stadium where the entire school were assembled all dressed in their sport teams' gear and decorated with face paints and fancy hair-dos.
Anita is a ten year old girl who is in a wheelchair due to cerebral disabilities. She loves drama and last time we met her at her home she did a confident performance of a poem for us finishing with a bow. She and her little sister were there to take part in the parade and her parents were there too to watch them. We spent several enjoyable hours in gorgeous sunshine with Anita and her family watching the various dances and performances including a rather accurate rendition of Thriller and several rounds of fireworks.
Then it was our turn! Alex and I went onto the sports field with Anita and her team mates and walked the lap of the parade. I held a volleyball and flowers and Alex pushed Anita trying to stay in time with the shouts of the coordinators which resulted in some abrupt halts and several spurts of sprinting. Anita’s family were so welcoming and generous; her little sister ran off to put my jelly carton in the bin and her Dad disappeared and returned with a hat for Alex when the sun was at its hottest.
Anita’s Dad works really hard as a mechanic but they can’t afford the 20 pounds a month it would cost to get Anita to physiotherapy three times a week. Nelly has also recommended that Anita needs a laptop to help her at school because although she is just as quick at learning as any of her classmates, she struggles to write quickly. I really hope MSH can help her with these small things that would really make a difference.