Issue - August 2007

August 2007

In this issue, Amy Pollock reviews the successes of Arnold Brower’s school garden project, while Lucy Witter talks with the rector of an English school enrolling impoverished students; we hear form Save the Children about their reconciliation programme after the Cochabamba riots in more...

August 2007

Mis Huellitas

Is a children’s day-care centre situated in Villa Granado neighbourhood in Cochabamba. It provides a secure environment for parents to leave their children during the day while they work. Andrew Page had the opportunity to visit.

By: Andrew Page
Projects - Abroad Volunteer
Newcastle , United Kigdom

The project began on 18th November 1997, at the house of current director Delmira Flores. There were 15 children attending at that time, and originally it was only planned to run for 12 months. However, the parents asked for the centre to remain open, and the following year there were 20 children in attendance.

The number of children making use of the centre has progressively increased since 1997, and it became obvious that the director’s house was far too small. In 2002, the Arnold Schwimmer Institute (FAS) helped fund the current building. Work started in September 2001, and was completed in May 2002. Five years later, there are 70 children making use of the centre, and the resources at Mis Huellitas are greatly stretched, which means that the parents are required to help. In order to do this, a directive has been established, led by an elected president. This year it is Sophia Cavero. She holds a monthly meeting where they decide which parents will be assisting with tasks such as gardening, cleaning, and making bread.

The children are split into three age groups, each with their own classroom. The youngest are aged from as young as 6 months up to three years old. After that are those aged 3 to 4, and then aged 4 through to 6.

A typical day for the children begins with breakfast. Persuading them to eat can be difficult, time consuming and often messy, particularly amongst the youngest age group. Following this, the whole classroom is cleaned, and the children resume their activities. As well as leading the singing of songs and colouring in, the teachers also begin basic number and word skills, preparing the children for school. They are not entirely restricted to their classrooms: when cleaning takes place they are allowed to play in the constricted area inside the building, and sometimes during the afternoons, they will be able to go outdoors. Lunch takes place at around 11.30, after which all the classrooms are cleaned again. In the youngest class, there is a playpen for the very young children, some of whom spend much of the day asleep.

Ideally, they would like one more teacher, so the institution is looking for money. Unfortunately, after completing an evaluation, the FAS have decided to stop supporting the project, and with resources already so greatly stretched, it is easy to imagine the project struggling to stay afloat. It is a shame that this decision has been taken – Mis Huellitas has many dedicated people working for little in return and could use more support rather than less, and without this centre, parents would have to find somewhere else to send their children while they work.

Children and Youth ...
Save the Children is a non-profit institution here in Bolivia. The children’s rights based organization has been working in the country since 1985, and since then, has expanded its activities to every department in Bolivia....
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