“When I get home, the first thing I do is eat lunch with my little brother, wash the dishes, clean and tidy the house, as my mom told me to do. Then I start doing my homework, but suddenly I wonder… How am I going to do this?” confesses Araceli, a 10 year-old girl with learning difficulties.
Araceli lives in Villa Belen, where our local partner Un Nuevo Caminar works with children, most who travelled from migrant rural to the city so that their families could look for other ways to make a living. Villa Belen has no basic services, sewage systems or potable water. Houses are small and the streets are unsafe. “I know there is a educational program at the project (Un Nuevo Caminar), Araceli tells us , but it is too far to go by foot, my mom can’t afford the bus ticket and the streets are dangerous…” This is a problem for more than 120 enrolled children, their siblings and friends.
Since July 2013 this problem has been resolved when our local partner signed an agreement with community leaders to use a small room at the health center and start our project. Our own Educational Support center is now closer to the children. It wasn’t hard to get a table, some chairs and school material thanks to parents and children’s enthusiasm. This space was friendly called “El Apoyo” (The Support) by the children.
Every Thursday afternoon children attend “El Apoyo”, this space created specially for them.During the first month eight boys and girls brought their school homework and were able to ask questions to an educator. Little by little teenagers started helping their smaller friends with their homework. Good news travels fast, “I will tell my neighbor and cousins about this place” children started to say when they left for home with their schoolwork done.
The age difference between children was a problem and this was resolved through cooperative work. Everybody was able to teach something they knew to others. Devora, the teacher in charge tells us “We implemented a schedule; at first we helped everybody to complete their homework.” By the end of the day somebody proposed a topic to talk about and discuss while we had a small cake or a cup of tea, then everybody started to talk about their school day sharing their opinions and experiences.
Marcelo, 10, seems self-confident now: “at home there was nobody to help me with my homework, my parents both work all day long, as soon as I heard about ‘El Apoyo’ I asked my mom for permission to come. Now I can do my homework without distractions, and if I have some questions I know who to ask for help.”
“It has been six months since our first children came here”, remembers Devora last November, “now the school year has ended and I feel gratification; more than the higher grades it is the children’s interest we can appreciate every Thursday afternoon.”