Volunteering Part One:
So, after a hair raising bus journey (anyone travelling to South America, NEVER travel with CIAL buses), we arrived tired and confused in the city of Trujillo where we would be spending the next month volunteering. Not a great looking city, it´s the third largest in Peru and more of an economic hub than a tourist attration, but that was ok as we were there to work!
Arriving at the address we´d been given, we were ushed straight to bed by Carmen, the old Peruvian lady we´d be staying with for the duration of our time in Trujillo. She had a strange, dark, silent house with 2 downstairs rooms modified into classrooms with chairs and a whiteboard and a small kitchen which never seemed to have any food in it whatsoever. Upstairs there was a bathroom with a toilet that only flushed in the mornings, think we all had a few embarrasing moments with that one, and then 2 rooms for volunteers, a tiny dark space with a computer and sofá and then Carmen´s bedroom and her nephew, David´s, who ran the volunteer program Espaanglish. The other thing about Auntie Carmen´s was that she owned 20 or more guinea pigs which she kept in her tiny yard just below our bedroom window. These she bred to eat on special occasions, and after a few days there, listening to their weird gruntings in the night, I began to think about telling her it was my birthday, and maybe tims as well, just so we´d have a few less squealing rodents about the house.
The other volunteer in the house was a 6´5´´ American guy from Portland, Oregan, complete with long straggly ginger ponytail, all the hair was shaved underneath, and a big bushy ginger beard. His name was Travis and he liked talking very loudly.
After meeting David, 27, and Crystal, the organisers, we received our timetables for the month. On Wednesdays and Fridays, Tim and I would be leading the adult conversation clases from 7-9pm. On Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays we would be working from 8-5pm with another charity organisation called SKIP, website:http://skipperu.org/en in a school in the poorest area of the región called El Porvenir. I would be mostly helping with the English classes and Tim would be more involved with Sports.
After introductions we had a few days to settle in before we began. About 40 minutes combi ride away (a combi is a small van with 15 seats , although you´d be surprised how many people can fit in one, that costs 30p and drives around the city with a guy hanging out the side shouting the combi´s destination. Not the comfiest of transports, but it´s definitely the cheapest) was the small town of Huanchaco. A lovely beach resort complete with fish restaurants, reed boats and surfing all year round. The weekend we arrived was the world surf championships qualifier which was pretty cool, although a Brazilian won over the Peruvian and some b***** stole tim´s flip flops prompting a barefooted search around shops back in Trujillo for some new ones.
Then, it was time to begin volunteeing. The school was a 20minute taxi ride from Carmen´s and we set off bright eyed and bushy tailed with our nifty blue sleeveless jackets on marking us out as volunteers. As soon as you left Trujillo and entered El Porvenir you could tell things were different. Children running about bare foot and grubby, rubbish everywhere and rotting cow carcasses lined up outside houses waiting to be sold for leather I guess. We met the other SKIP volunteers outside the school, most of whom were American but with a few Danish, English and French as well. Then it was time to open the gates and let the kids in.
There were 4 classes altogether of about 25 kids and my first day was spent assisting in the English classes as another guy called Tim from the US lead the teaching of ABC, 123 and basic questions such as , How are you? Where are you from? Etc. Timmy G´s first day was spent doing Art clases and making the children draw a picture of a person closest to them. Oh, and just in case you were wondering, everything, apart from the English classes, is taught in Spanish so the first day, and quite a lot of days after that as well, were spent answering ´Si´, si´ to questions that could have been, ´where´s the glue?´ ´That boy stole my shoe!´ and ´Can I go and play in the mud instead of listen to you?´. The best bit was when they asked us to read to them in Spanish and it was brilliant looking over to see Tim struggling just as much as me over the big words and pausing in all the wrong places!
Finally managed to get some more Spanish lessons though and learn the all important imperatives such as , Sit Down! Draw! Silence! Shut the Door! Don´t climb out the window! etc. I was also given my own secondary classes to teach on Wednesdays and Thursdays which was great as I was in charge of a whole class to myself and had to do lesson plans and think of imaginative ways to use the limited materials provided. Not having handouts was really hard as the kids have to copy everything from the board which takes ages!Timmy G was also given the post of swimming instructor as he was the only volunteer with any lifeguarding or swimming teacher experience! The community actually had a really nice compound with a huge swimming pool in it, but most of the kids had never been in the water before which presented quite a Challenge as the pool was fairly deep and there was 20 kids to 2 teachers.A safety inspectors nightmare.