What does play means for these children?

The sun shines this Sunday and around 50 boys and girls play in a soccer field. Small groups guided by a monitor perform different games, laughter and happy faces surround us. We ask some of the children: What are you up to? Their immediate answer is: we are learning!

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Students from ‘Mejillones’ middle school

This is a new method applied by Local partner ‘Renovación Madre Niño’ and other three Organizations in Oruro. It is called JuGAR, (PLAY in Spanish) focused on the development of physical and social abilities with children and teenagers. We had the chance to talk with Osmar Ramirez, a Youth club staff person in Oruro about it.

“While children play, they strengthen other abilities: leadership, self-esteem, teamwork, communication, conflict management… the list is long, but they have fun and learn about these important abilities” he tells us. “We identified that children live with different types of violence at home, in the school and their neighborhoods. We want to teach them about it and how to prevent these problems, how to talk about their Rights and live with empathy and resilience.”

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Osmar with a group explains game rules

Although these might be concepts that are hard to apply, this method helps children and youth to understand them. Every game has three steps: Theory, action and rethinking. “We explain to children the rules before the game, then we play and later, as a group, we meditate about the game and attitudes to incorporate other concepts,” explains Osmar. “This is a useful tool and we can use it with children from 8 to 18 years old because they love to run, jump, and play in the field. A couple of months ago we had a great experience with 175 children under 12 and everything was perfect.”

But what does JuGAR means? Juego (game) / Globalidad (globality) / Actitud (attitude) / Reflexión (reflection).

Juego (game): Create a playing environment, then it is a pleasant environment for positive learning.

 Globalidad (globality): There should be a multi-dimensional approach: motor, cognitive, affective and social.

 Actitud (attitude): The person in charge, (teacher, coach, technician), must have a dynamic, enthusiastic and positive attitude to make sure their students have fun and learn key concepts easily.

Reflexión (reflection): Children are active protagonists in the activity and learn through discovering and reflection.

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“In 2017 we want to train Sport teachers, then, they can apply our JuGAR method at the school” says Osmar. Right now though he must say good bye because another group is ready to play and learn this Sunday.

HOME, SWEET HOME

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Raquel (left), along with her siblings.

Raquel lives with her family in Urbanizaciones Unidas, a small neighborhood in Santa Cruz.  Local Partner Lucerito works with ChildFund Bolivia in the area. Raquel is 20 and is studying Architecture in public University; she had the opportunity to participate in a singular house building experience last weekend. This is her story.

Urbanizaciones Unidas is one of the peri-urban neighborhoods located in Santa Cruz and has many needs such as public sanitation or proper road access. But one of the problems Raquel’s family faces is the lack of living space. She shares her house with other 10 family members. Her family was chosen to have a transitional house built by TECHO Bolivia and funded by ChildFund Germany. Other 14 families in the area benefited with the project too. “I live with my parents, my grandma, two little siblings and now my sister has two children and lives with her husband with us,” she tells us. “My sister Yesenia will live with her family in this new place.”

Saturday 26th was the first day to build the structure. A big truck arrived early in the morning to the neighborhood’s sport field carrying wood products. More than 50 volunteers from TECHO Bolivia were waiting along with community members. “Everybody helps,” tells Ciro, a TECHO Volunteer, “We want to build the houses in 2 days. Today we can finish the floor and maybe the walls, family members can help of course.” Urbanizaciones Unidas used to be a garbage disposal area until people arrived; they worked very hard to clean it up and prepare it to live there. “Around 39% of Bolivian population lives in poverty, that means almost 3 million of inhabitants living with infringed rights,” points Roger Yance, TECHO Bolivia social director.

Saturday and Sunday the sun shines; but hot weather does not stop volunteers or Raquel’s family. “We must finish the roof before the sun rises and the heat rises” alerts Arturo, one of the volunteers. Raquel, her dad Rudy and her brothers worked very hard and the house is almost finished. “I am very impressed about these young people; their wish to help others is an example for my kids and for other children,” says Rudy. “It is like a big network build by them to help.”

Un sueño hecho realidad from ChildFund Bolivia on Vimeo.

Sunday noon, everybody is tired, the weather is hot but satisfaction over the good work is reflected on every face around the table. The community prepared a big meal for volunteers and neighborhood members. The work is finished and 15 families can say now `home, sweet home.´

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Home, sweet home!