Every time I heard my name from the other side of the playground and someone rushed towards me, wrapped a bracelet around my wrist or tattooed my arms all over with pen "te amo's" (I love you), I grew a little bit more attached to the wonderful children at the School of Hope.
In the playground there are beautiful volcanos that peek over the roof, 5-year-olds who climb the football posts like monkeys, skipping ropes, running games and children who insist 'DAME VUELTAS' (a request which translates loosely as spin me round until we both feel a bit sick, it will be fun 9/10 times it is until your swinging around the 10th child in line and suddenly it all gets a bit much).
Amongst the children, you can easily spot their equally energetic teachers. Outbursts of songs and stories (often involving ninjas) and tireless requests for '¡Una fila por favor!' can be heard throughout the day.
Meanwhile the office staff give tours, track donations and update social media. Even with their giant to do list they make time to play with the children and ensure the volunteers are getting the best out of their time at the school.
It's really easy to forget when you sit down and watch the playground that these seemingly carefree children have all been given a place at the school because they live in extreme poverty.
During my time at the school I asked 50 prepa (reception/kindergarten) children 24 questions which would allow us to write them a bio and get them sponsored. I was so amazed by some of their answers that I had to send a copy to as many people as I could. Here's an idea of some of the things they said:
- What do you like most about school? Doing my work, because I always get to do it on paper.
- Tell me a dream you have for the future: to have my own bed
- Are there times when you get very hungry? Sometimes when I am working with my mum I feel sick because I'm so hungry.
- What do you want to be when you grow up? Pretty.
- What would you do if you were in trouble? I would look for my shoes and run.
- What's your favourite subject? Drawing because i do it at home too.
- What's your least favourite subject? Sometimes I don't like drawing. Only on Mondays.
- Who do you want to be when you grow up? My brother.
Some of their answers were heartbreaking, others were wacky and funny. But the majority of their answers were simply typical of children that age; it's plain to see that children are children all over the world.
Alice volunteered with us in 2015 and loved the experience!