Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Leonel Update

 Leonel Update
This year, the Peruvian government issued a new policy of "integration", stating that children with a variety of special needs would, in march, be integrated into the regular school system. In someways this will be very positive, but everyone is a little wary of this new policy as teachers, students and families have had little to no
time to prepare. Leonel, for example, is a 6 year old child who has been deaf since birth, and currently attends the special needs school run by Kiya Survivors in Urubamba, Peru. He is one of the students who is benefiting from the transport service run by MySmallHelp, as he lives about 15 minutes from Ollantaytambo and uses the bus to get to school everyday. Leonel doesn't speak and barely knows any sign language. His parents have never had enough money to pay for his hearing aids. Leonel is a very bright and extremely active six year old, but without any linguistic skills, entering first grade in March is going to be extremely difficult.

Thanks to very generous donations from friends and family in Canada, I was able to take Leonel to the clinic on Monday, we bought his hearing aid! On the doctor’s recommendation, he’s only using one at the moment, and only at school, where the teachers can keep an eye on him as he gets used to wearing it.

Learning to speak is going to be a long and difficult process at his age, but last night I went for dinner (roast guinea pig) at his house with his whole family, we went through how to use and care for the hearing aids, and different activities they can to with him to help develop his speech. I believe I have also found a speech therapist who will be able to work with him once a week.

Leonel has been amazing about having the hearing aid in. He’s taking good care of it, taking the batteries out and storing it everyday after school. He gives me a huge smile and points to his ear every time I come visit, so proud that he’s keeping it safe. His mom says that he’s become more vocal, even when he’s at home. Over the Christmas holidays he’s going to take the hearing aid home for the first time and his whole family has committed to making sure he uses it and stores it properly.  They’re all very curious about this faraway group of people who have come together to provide something so important to their family. I always tell them how lucky I am, to know
so many amazing people in so many places, and they of course agree. The hearing aids are just a small step towards the eventual goal of him being able to communicate like any other child his age, but with his intelligence and energy, we're all sure he can carry the project the rest of the way.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Condolences to our dear member Amir Kumar K.C.

21st December, 2011
MySmallHelp would like to express our deepest condolence on the accidental death of our dear friend and member of MySmallHelp Nepal, Amir Kumar K.C on 20th December, 2011. He had always been very support to MSH and successfully conducted several events and programs for MSH. He made a great contribution in raising awareness of child right and work of Charity.

He got into accident while he was on the way to his farm in the evening via motorcycle. No one knows how the accident accorded. A girl noticed him bleeding on the road and called the police. He was rushed to hospital for treatment. He got a severed injury on his forehead. Doctor couldn’t save him. Our dear friend was just 33 with a son and wife. You will always be missed by MSH and whole team. 

MySmallHelp Team

Friday, December 16, 2011

Volunteering Experience of Ramona from Germany in Peru Bus Project

By Ramona

My name is Ramona, I am 19 years old and I am from Germany. I decided to volunteer for 4 months in the Arco Iris school bus project in Urubamba, Peru. I now want to tell you about my first week.
My first week in the project was amazing! On my first day, I met the children in the morning at the main plaza.  They are full of energy and welcomed me as if we had known us long time before. We went into the bus and I sat right between the children. Although my Spanish was quite simple it was so easy to communicate with them by using hands or a simple smile. The bus drove through an amazing landscape between redish mountains and a river which sparkled in the sun.

During the ride we collected more children who welcomed me so lovely that I felt comfortable up to the first moment. When we arrived at the school a boy showed me the Arco Iris School. The school is surrounded by mountains and the little houses used as classrooms are decorated with colorful posters and paintings. The school has its own vegetable garden, a henhouse and of course a playground for the children. After getting known the surroundings I joined the brain gym which is like an assembly with all the members from the school taking place every morning. We sang, danced and played and the children animated me to participate which was really funny. After the brain gym I went into the class ”inicial” where the youngest children learned numbers and colors. I helped them with drawing, sticking and counting which even was a little Spanish course to me. In the pause I played with other children at the playground and talked to other volunteers about how life is in Arco Iris School. After the pause I joined the class “funcional” where the oldest children are learning. They called me ”Profe Mona” and asked me to help them with reading, writing or calculating. They were so lovely and although I didn‘t understand everything in Spanish they were patient and really happy to receive help. After the class, the children got lunch. I helped the smaller ones with eating which was sometimes a little tiring because children rather wanted to play than eating properly.

After school we drove back by bus to Ollantaytambo. Some of the youngest one were so tired that the fall asleep by sitting on my lap. When we arrived in Ollantaytambo we said good bye and I really was looking forward to “manana”.
During my first week I got to know the children and even was able to talk to them in Spanish. It is so easy to learn the language by listening to the children. And I got used to my new name as “Profe Mona”
In my first week there was a highlight because an event took place in Urubamba. All schools came together in the big city hall and children were performing dances. We went with the children from Arco Iris School to the hall and watched the dances which was amazing.
This is just a short description of how the volunteering work looks like. The work gives you so much energy and even if it is sometimes hard work, a smiling child compensates everything!

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

A day visit to Jawalakhel zoo with Marybert children

A visit to Jawalakhel Zoo with Marybert Children
 12th Dec,2011

It was Monday on 12th December 2011, the children of Marybert Orphanage had been taken to Zoo of Jawalakhel, Lalitpur by the team of MySmall Help, Nepal. The main motto of the outing was to provide refreshment to the children after completion of their mid term examination. One of the volunteer Mr. Gabriel from Canada and two of the members of MSH, Nepal carefully took them out around 11:00 a.m. in the morning. All were very excited about the day and ready to walk to Jawalakhel.

They were very happy and curious to see different kinds of species like deer, rhino, hippopotamus, hyena, elephant, zebra, crocodile, tortoise, monkeys etc. The jumping ability of Chimpanzee made all of them excited and entertained for half an hour. Then after we went to see various kinds of birds with colorful feathers and structure like ostrich, vulture, parrots, hornbill, danfe etc. The children were very amazed with this view. The team of MSH and especially Gabriel seemed very kind and happy to see smiles in the face of children.

 Around 2:00 p.m. we all sat circle round in the ground and got ready to have lunch. We had pasta as our lunch which was very tasty and was cooked by the volunteer himself. All the children liked the food so much and asking for more. Soon after we finished our meal we went to the section of playground. 

There were swing, slide, see-saw, electrical train, electrical horse, electrical swing and various other games. The children enjoyed themselves playing different games and experienced new game in their life such as Electrical train and swing. They also watched a big fish aquarium which was just like the view of sea, big snakes, pigs, mice, leopard, big horn buffaloes etc.

At 3:00 p.m. we checked out from the zoo and reached Patan Durbar Square after 45 minutes of walk. The children were tired so we took rest around Durbar Square for a while. Here the children enjoyed themselves with biscuits and noodles in the scenario of historical background. Some said that they have never been to this place before. It seemed they were quite happy and enjoyed the day. Finally the MSH team dropped them to the orphanage safely and said goodbye.

Monday, December 12, 2011

MySmallHelp Peru December Newsletter

MySmallHelp Peru December Newsletter
Greetings from Peru! I, Julia Vanderham, have had the pleasure of working with MysmallHelp since August, when Leander left to visit Nepal and our projects in Trujillo. MySmallHelp Peru has had a busy and exciting three months, so I’m happy to be giving an overview of what we’ve been up to…
The Bus Project
One of MySmallHelp’s main projects in the Sacred Valley is a bus, which provides school transportation to a group of 11 special needs children. These children, who are from Ollantaytambo and its surrounding areas, attend the amazing Arco Iris School in Urubamba. For these children, Arco Iris is their only educational option. The school not only provides the children with lifeskills training and encourages them to realize how much they are capable of, but also gives them access to a social worker, psychologist, and a warm lunch every day. It has been amazing to see the difference the school has made in each child.

The children live up to a 40-minute drive away from the school, so it is often impossible for their parents to take them every day (if they are lucky enough to have parents who value their education). Some are in wheelchairs and our youngest is an adorable 3 year old with downs syndrome, who needs to be held by someone to and from school. Transportation is therefore a large challenge, but MSH believes that if overcoming this one obstacle can make such a difference in their lives, it’s well worth it. Our bus therefore picks up each child at or near their house, and drops them off at the end of the day.

Of course, the project has evolved to be much more than a simple school bus. MySmallHelp liaises between the school and the families, communicating about schedules and other matters that arise at school. Our hilarious and patient driver Ruben makes every drive an interesting one, and together he and the children deal with road closures, locked houses and whatever else is thrown their way.

This is of course where volunteers come to play a huge role in supporting this important project. We need to take attendance everyday to have a record of which children are actually using the bus, and to make sure we take home everyone we brought in. We coordinate with the parents about school holidays, what clothes the kids need to wear for their frequent parades and when the parents need to accompany their kids for medical campaigns or other events. With 11 special needs children together on a bus, someone is also needed to keep order, making sure that all arms and heads are inside the bus and that everyone is getting along. MSH depends on our volunteers to make sure that the bus runs smoothly- they are an integral part of our success. We have loved having Lulu, a teacher from England, helping us throughout the month of November and will miss her when she goes!

We fund the bus partly through private donations. In an effort to work with the local government and to make the bus more sustainable, MSH has partnered with the municipality of Ollantaytambo. They generously offered to take over half of the cost, but the Peruvian bureaucratic machine moves slowly, and they are currently 3 months behind in their payments. This has obviously been a huge challenge for MSH. We have been supplementing the cost with small, in-country fundraising activities but are looking for a more permanent funding source to ensure that this project continues.

The Eye Campaign

In September, MSH Peru had the pleasure of hosting a visiting group of ophthalmologists who, in just 2 days, were able to give eye exams to over 60 patients and provide glasses for anyone who needed them! It was amazing to see Ian, Debbie, Gregorio, Jenny, and Antonio work in Patacancha, a community located about an hour up from Ollantaytambo. The vast majority of people there spoke only Quechua and are illiterarte, so using English to Spanish then Spanish to Quechua translation, and symbols and pictures instead of letters, they were able to give eye tests to over 30 people, the majority of them women who make their money doing intricate weaving that requires good vision.

On the second morning, they saw a group of women knitters in Ollantaytambo. In the afternoon went to the Arco Irish school for special needs children to give exams to the students and their families. Giving eye exams to special needs kids provided a whole host of other challenges, but our lovely eye team approached every situation with creativity, patience and compassion- it was an absolute joy for me to work with them. You can read more about their adventures on the MSH Peru blog:

The team brought over a hundred pairs of donated glasses with them, but some people needed specialized prescriptions. Through their connections in London, they were able to find someone to provide 3 free pairs of specialty glasses, which just recently arrived in Peru. I delivered one pair to Ricardo, a young man with a serious problem in one eye, last week. He was huddled around a small TV with his brothers, sisters and cousins, watching a bootleg copy of “Clash of the Titans”. When I gave him the glasses, he made me sit for 20 minutes while he excitedly described all of the various mythical monsters that he could now see with such clarity. Thank you so much to everyone who made this possible!

The Bake Sale

In the first week of November, the kids we usually transport to a special needs school in Urubamba had a week of vacation, so we wanted to organize an activity for them. After getting permission from the municipality in Ollantaytambo, we decided to do a little bake sale in the main plaza. We always like activities that let the kids do something practical (baking, selling, etc.) and also that encourage them to be visible members of their community.

On Thursday afternoon we met in our volunteer house with some of the kids and our lovely volunteer Lulu, to bake some cakes and some mini-pizzas. It was a lovely afternoon, and it was great to see the kids apply all that they had learned in their lifeskills classes at school.

On Friday morning we set up a little table in the plaza, and began to sell cakes and avocado sandwiches for one sole and mini pizzas for two soles. It was a great day. Lourdes, Luis Alberto and Yasmira chatted and many of their family members came out to support them. We sold out almost everything we made, with lots of compliments on our delicious banana bread.

With the hard work of Lourdes, Luis Alberto, Yasmira and Lulu, we made about 50 soles in two hours- not a bad day’s work!

Thank you for your support
Julia and the MSH Peru team

P.S. We acknowledge that this is all about Peru - Nepal’s update to come!