Copa de Leche first begun when Nelida, an Argentinean lady, decided to help children in poor neighbourhoods by donating ingredients for a cup of milk and a small snack to be served in the afternoon. Nelida wanted to start helping out other children, after losing her sons in a car accident. Also, she was aiming at improving the educational performance of the children. Copa de Leche is in Hermana Sierra neighbourhood, in Arguello Norte, and every afternoon the children would come and get a cup of chocolate milk and either a biscuit, some criollitos or pan dulce. For some of the children, this is their dinner. The milk is served in the comedor of the local church.
In December last year, Consu, a vivacious, bubbly and smiling Argentinean, started volunteering at Copa de Leche, during her summer holidays from university. She was joined by the first volunteers in February of this year, and with the volunteers came the English lessons. The day would begin with the serving of the milk (making the milk perfectly is an art, which we've all mastered!!), which was then followed by an informal English lesson. The English lessons were great; the children enjoyed learning new things, and though at times it was loud and it felt like we weren't getting anything done, hearing those children say something we had taught them to us on the street, made it all worth it.
We divided the children into 3 groups: 7 years and younger were outside in front of the church with Consu and Celia, 8-12 were inside with Justine and Saul, and the eldest children, 13 years and over were also outside with a small whiteboard with Stella. The teaching methods included a lot of games and songs; we found they were an effective way of learning for the children, though some of the games always managed to turn into chaos!
At the end of March, Consu left us volunteers on our own to go back to University, and that's when things got complicated. We had new people to work with, and the Sisters living in the church came back after the summer, and started holding masses and confessions at the same time as Copa, which meant that we couldn't hold English lessons anymore in this space. But then we got an amazing opportunity thanks to Ines and Nelida; they arranged for us to teach English at the Colegio Ricardo Nassif, in the same neighbourhood. At first we would teach 3 classes from the school, two 5th grades and 6th grade, and then we would teach children from Copa de Leche twice a week. That started out well, we had planned it all out, and were extremely excited about it, and on our first day when we got there, we were told the toilets of the school were broken and flooded, and the children had been sent home. The toilets breaking at Colegio Ricardo Nassif is a common problem, and we've had to cancel classes because of the lack of students. Now, we teach twice a day, in the mornings and the afternoons. Copa children get 4 lessons a week, and we teach students from the school 6 times a week.
Copa de Leche is a fantastic and incredibly worthwhile project, and it's great that we've been given such a great opportunity to be able to help these children.
Saturday July 26th was a special day for the kids of Eva Peron Children’s Home, one of our Care placements. They had just spent what was going to be there last night in one of the very sad looking bedrooms of the house. Little did they know that a couple of months ago, Inés Mariani, our Volunteer Manager, started planning a Dirty weekend to makeover all the bedrooms. For those who are not familiar with this term, it is something Projects Abroad does in many of its destinations. What is it about? Doing some hands-on work which makes a difference for the communities that we reach.
With Projects Abroad support, we brought together Projects Abroad volunteers and staff for this very special weekend. A donation of cushions, plastic covers for mattresses and a CD stereo was being done at the same time to complete the event. We all met around midday at the Eva Peron Children’s Home to divide into four groups – one for each room. These rooms needed a serious makeover – filling and cement for the many cracks in the walls, sandpaper and liters and liters of paint!
With a lot of effort we succeeded in finishing the four bedrooms since by late Sunday afternoon curtains and lamps were up bringing the last finishing touch to each room and its theme.
I would like to thank all of the Projects Abroad volunteers for having participated in the Dirty Weekend and dedicated some of their time to this Project, and a special thanks to Ines Mariani, our Volunteer Manager, without whom this Project would have never arisen.
Two days ago I came back from an incredible 4 day trip to the Northwest of Argentina. The landscapes, the change of colours of the mountains, the Salt Lake, the indigenous people and the small villages lost in the middle of nowhere made it all very different to what I had already seen of this beautiful country – the falls of Iguazu where one of the 7 wonders of the world makes you dizzy by its immensity; the famous wine region of Mendoza; the snowy mountains of Bariloche and the lakes of San Martin de los Andes; the city of tango Buenos Aires & finally the Sierras of Cordoba, my home town for the past 8 months.
I arrived in October 2009 not knowing much of Argentina but with the feeling that my stay here was going to be a life changing experience. As a Projects Abroad volunteer I discovered how generous the Argentineans are and how easy it is to feel at home when your thousands of kilometers from your family. Travelling not only opens your mind to other cultures but enables you to meet lifelong friends. Now, as the Social Manager, I try to share this feeling with volunteers and hope that they too will fully experience their time with their host family & at their placement.
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