Wednesday, 3 April 2013

Who will benefit from our work in Siares?

Ten minutes after stepping of the bus in Siares, San Ramon we found ourselves surrounded by curious eyes and big grins from the children of the community. Straight away it became clear that they were the motivation for our work.  It was also an indication that they would become central to our daily life in San Ramon over the next two weeks.

Over several days we began noticing the differences between the lives of these children and the children back home. The pre-school we are building is next to the existing school and so we can observe a typical school day. At around 8.30am clusters of children show up outside the school, and much like English playgrounds, begin playing as they wait for lessons to start. However, the teachers turned up and all the children (who were aged between 4 and 15 years) are separated into only two classes.

Due to the age differences the classes seemed more chaotic than back home. We were lucky enough to teach one class English and witness for ourselves the keen attitude to learning that exists here. For some school was the highlight of the day.

Although to us it seemed that there was very little for the children to do around the area they constantly found various ways to entertain themselves. Age was thrown out of the equation and games were universal. Football was especially popular amongst the boys. Despite the very basic football pitch it seemed to be a hotspot for the community. One of the most amusing things to observe were the children wondering around listening to music on San Ramon's version of the iPod - the jukebox. Music didn't stop there, as we discovered in the morning waking up to loud tunes from surrounding houses.

Living with the families of the community we were able to experience family life at first-hand. Here the theme of children continues as it was rare to find a house without any. Brothers, sisters and cousins all lived under one roof as extended families were the norm.

There are roughly 800 people in San Ramon, spread between 80 houses meaning the average household has 10 members. We found that the presence of children brought laughter and love into every family. It was clear that the community valued their children and one of the reasons we feel they were so welcoming to us is because we were helping to build the pre-school. They made us feel like part of the family.

By Cecilia Ricks & Emma Holder

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