A Travellerspoint blog

Fiesta in kindergarten

Today the kindergarten department held a party to celebrate the 5 years they've been at the school. We ate cake, sang songs and danced with the children... a great way to spend a morning!

25 °C

Day 13 in Cusco - 21st May

Today I was scheduled onto the kindergarten lesson with my partner in crime Charlie. We’d been busy the previous night preparing for the lesson. However, we found out in the morning that it was the anniversary of the first kindergarten class in Peru and the class was having a party to celebrate. This meant, in typical Peruvian style, that our lesson might or might not take place! To add to the celebrations, Santusa our occasional chef had baked a couple of cakes for the class.



We arrived at the class with all our craft materials and lesson preparation to find the party in full swing… so… what could we do? We joined in! A little girl grabbed my hands and pulled me to dance with her and her friends, and we spent the next hour dancing to Spanish children’s songs and singing with the children. Our class proved very popular that morning and we had about 30 to 40 children, with 3 other volunteers (who had heard there was cake!) joining in too.



Once we’d tired from dancing, we gathered the children together and the teacher’s encouraged them to sing happy birthday to themselves in both Spanish and English. The sound of little voices singing “cumpleaños feliz” filled the air, as the children celebrated their education.




We handed out slices of cake to the other teachers and enjoyed the celebrations for the rest of the morning.

Posted by JoannaLucy 20:00 Archived in Peru Comments (0)

Talleres workshop

Craft workshop with the mothers in the community

sunny 23 °C

Day 12 in Cusco - 20th May


This morning we had our weekly volunteer meeting, where we discuss how everybody’s getting on and address and issues or questions people have in the house, school or communities. We discovered it had been a good week as the construction projects were progressing quickly, lessons were being planned and going well, and most importantly no-body had been ill! After the meeting, we had a delicious cookery lesson given to us all by Santusa, our cleaner/house keeper and occasional chef . During the lesson we all cook different parts of a three course meal which we then eat together in the house courtyard. Today we had a delicious Quinoa soup, a local dish, Peruvian chicken curry and a warm chocolate cake for dessert…lovely!


This afternoon I had been scheduled on a community visit, a group of us drove up to one of the communities we’d be working at: Quilla Huata. Firstly we trekked up a steep slope to a house which had been destroyed recently by mud slides. It was the boys job to knock down the walls of the house and break up the mud bricks for the men in the community to reform, and eventually re-build the house. It was great to see the materials of the house being re-used so sustainably! While Lauren, our volunteer leader chatted to the owners of the house, I made friends with some children watching us work. The children live in the community and one of the boys I recognised from our classes at the Pumamarca school. It was very humbling to see the conditions in which these children live, and made me realise the importance that the school plays in these children’s lives.



I had been allocated to help run the Talleres workshops with another volunteer Jenny, so we headed back down the hill with Lauren to the school where the workshops were being held. During these workshops the mothers of the community attend afternoon classes, three times a week and learn weaving, knitting, painting, jewelry making, arts & crafts, ceramics and woodwork. During these workshops they work on craft items which we collect and take up to the school in Pumamarca to sell to tour groups.




It was my and Jenny’s job to record the name and number of each woman, and keep a record of both the materials they take - wool, fabric etc. and the finished items they bring back for us to sell. Not an easy task! Even with the help of Iris, our Peruvian social worker, it was a very busy few hours which flew past very quickly. We got lots of practice on our numbers - especially those in the hundreds, and how to pronounce the Peruvian names - v’s are pronounced as b’s, j’s as h’s and ‘ll’ as ‘ly’, which takes a while to get used to, especially when you have a line of women to check in and they‘ve forgotten their numbers! This week the women had been very productive and brought lots of scarves, hats, wall hangings and bracelets for us to take away with us.




The workshops are a great way for the women to chat together, talk about their lives and bring up any issues with Iris, the social worker without fear of a reaction from their husbands or families. Some of the mothers had brought babies, several of which were occupying themselves by crawling or running around the floor and under our table to our amusement! Teenagers from the community can also take part and there were a group stationed on the jewellery table. The boys especially I noticed, were particularly apt at making necklaces!


After Talleres, we headed back down the mountain with a few extra people in the mini-bus - some of the community head down into Cusco after the meeting, either to sell things, or visit family and hitch a lift with us, saving themselves a 2 hour walk in the dark!

Posted by JoannaLucy 19:33 Archived in Peru Comments (0)

How to make elephant masks...

...with Peruvian children - a day up at the school making elephant masks with the kindergarten children, health and hygiene and computer lessons with year's 3 and 4

sunny 21 °C

Day 9 in Cusco - 17th May

Today I was scheduled to run a kindergarten class in the morning and help out with health and hygiene and a computer class in the afternoon.

The kindergarten class was my first try at lesson planning and I wanted to do something fun with the children as 3 and 4 year olds have extremely short attention spans! My teaching buddy Kirk and I didn’t have a curriculum from the teacher to use for planning, so we raided the store-room in the volunteer house for teaching supplies, craft materials and ideas. Coming across some animal masks, we decided to plan the lesson around a particular animal and find a story/song to tie the lesson together. Looking through the books in the stock-room, I found there were a very limited number of books in Spanish, though lots of English and Australian - not very useful when teaching 4 year Spanish speaking children! Trawling through the internet, I found a Spanish song about elephants balancing on spider webs which focused on counting…1 elephant, 2 elephants, 3 elephants balancing on a spiders web…etc. Kirk found some willing volunteers and using one of the animal masks as a template, we cut out 24 templates for our class.


The next day, armed with the cut-out masks, elastic, pens, pencils, pens, glue, stickers and items for the children to stick onto the masks, we headed up the winding track to the school. Once Kirk, I and my room-mate Tanya (who was very excited at the thought of making elephant masks) arrived at the kindergarten classrooms, I asked the teacher if she could read the story to the children to start off the lesson. Luckily she knew the song and actions and sang it to the children. We joined in with the actions and afterwards I told the children that today “Hoy, vamos a acer masqueras de elefante” or “today, we will make animal masks”. We then handed out the masks, and helped the children draw on the elephant’s faces, colour them in and stick on stickers. My Spanish for body parts - boca, naris, y ohos and colours is definitely improving! The children got very excited and several fights broke out over the stickers. I was also quite amused to see one little boy had a ‘Hannah’ sticker on his elephant and a lot more had pictures of flowers and hearts! Gender stereotypes don’t seem to exist for Peruvian children!




Once the children had finished colouring in their masks, we went round stapling on the elastic and helped them put them on. The teacher then sang the song again and we ended the lesson with the children joining in with the song and doing the actions in their elephant masks…so cute!



Next I was scheduled to help with the health and hygiene. This takes place every day after the second lesson when the children have a break, have to wash their hands with soap, and put cream on their faces to stop sunburn and cracking. If this happened, the children could get parasites on their faces which leave scars and can give the children a lower social statue in their communities. After they’ve washed, they get a mug of warm milk or hot chocolate and a banana or piece of fruit.






My last lesson of the day was computers, during this lesson Viv, my other flatmate had planned for the children to play some games to practice their mouse control and keyboard skills, so we had a fun filled hour helping the children play ‘Leah’s Colouring Farm” a game where you select colours with the mouse and click on various parts of a picture to colour them in, then a space invader style game, where letters fall from the sky and the children have to select the corresponding letter on the keyboard to ‘shoot’ them down. Great fun!


Lessons over, we returned back down the dusty roads for some lunch and a well deserved rest!

Posted by JoannaLucy 19:14 Archived in Peru Comments (0)

Horseriding in the hills above Cusco

Horseriding trek in the hills above Cusco and exploring the ruins at Seqsay Waman

all seasons in one day 19 °C

Day 7 in Cusco - 15th May


Today was the first of our excursions around Cusco, a horse-riding trek around the mountains and a visit to a number of famous Inca ruins, including the religious site pronounced Seqsay waman - not ‘sexy woman‘ as we kept joking! The sun was shining in the morning as we were picked up by our tour bus, and taken up into the hills behind Cusco and the volunteer house, to the place where we would start the horse riding trek.


My horse, a beautiful brown bay, took it upon itself to lead our tour early, oblivious to my screams of whao and pulls on the reins. And so, I found myself ambling up a steep incline, with the rest of the tour group following me, as we started a 1 ½ hour trek through the breathtaking countryside above Cusco.


After the horse-riding, we visited the Inca ruins of Tambomachay, popularly know as El Baño del Inca or Bath of the Inca, a beautifully wrought ceremonial stone bath channelling crystal-clear spring water through fountains that still function today. The site was beautiful and we saw our first example of Inca walls - each stone had been individually polished to fit exactly next to the adjoining stones, all in excellent condition, especiall considering they are around 8,000 years old!



Next we visited the sites of Q’enqo and Pukapukara, before reaching the most spectacular site in Cusco, Saqsay woman. These ruins have both religious and military significance, Saqsay waman playing host to the colourful tourist spectacle of Inti Raymi, the sun festival held in June each year.


The site is composed of three different levels, relating to the three worlds - the lowest, the undreworld represented by the snake, and intelligence; the middle level, the earth represented by the puma; and the highest the heaven represented by the condor. All three are native creatures to Cusco. Apparently, it was the ninth inca, Pachacutec, who envisioned Cusco in the shape of a puma, with Saqsaywaman as the head and the 22 zigzagged walls as the teeth of the Puma!



We then visited the Cristo Blanco, or 'White Christ', a somewhat smaller version of the statue in Rio. Next to this tourist attraction were several locals selling crafts and a man playing a pipe and posing for photos in traditional clothes with his daughter and most photogenic llama.


Posted by JoannaLucy 20:40 Archived in Peru Tagged tourist_sites Comments (0)

Salmonella and Scarfs

surviving illness, my first day teaching, and the women's craft workshop

sunny 21 °C

Days 3 - 6 in Cusco - 11th - 14th May

Today was my first day back at the school after a spell in the health clinic! Myself and another girl Vicky spent three days in a local clinic after coming down with stomach bugs: salmonella and amoeba’s. Not great!



Happy to get back into things, today I was running the kindergarten class with another volunteer, Lisa, and the computer class for grades 1 & 2.


In kindergarten we were given the theme ‘parts of the body’ to work with. We started off by getting the kids to sing ‘heads, shoulders, knees and toes’ or ‘cabeza, ombros, rodillas, y dedos’ as it is in Spanish which seemed to work well. The children responded to the song and by the smiles, they seemed to find it quite funny! Next we helped them draw themselves on paper and asked them to identify all the body parts we’d sung about - they seemed to know them all and taught us a few more too! I had great fun practicing my Spanish and as I’d just learnt my colours, tested the children on these too. After a while the children became restless so we went outside to play ‘gato, gato, perrito’ and ‘ring a ring a roses’ which consisted of lots of running round laughing and falling over!


After a short break to recover, it was on to computer class. We wrote out instructions on the board in Spanish and made sure the computers were set up properly before the children filed into the class and ran to find a free computer. A Swedish company donated 10 computers to the school last year, so with our class of 22, it was 2 children per computer.


We started them on a colouring game to help them master their mouse control, then a space invaders type game where letters fall from the sky and the children have to type the letter on the keyboard to shoot it down with a spaceship. This seemed to go well, so all we had to do was walk round the class, checking they could play the games correctly and help them if they seemed lost or got stuck. The children love the computers and before I knew it the hour lesson had flown by.



After lessons, it was back to the house for lunch, then out again in the afternoon for community work. As I was still recovering, Pip, the volunteer leader, had rostered me onto one of the women’s craft workshop’s with another volunteer Jenny. The workshop was held in one of the schools around Pumamarca, and our job was to record each woman’s name and number as they came in, record who was taking wool and who was handing in completed items. Not an easy job! My Spanish numbers have definitely improved from this experience!


The craft workshops were set up by Peru’s Challenge 3 to 4 years ago, and they are a way for the women in the community to meet, socialise, gain access to the social worker and make extra money for their families. In our school in Pumamarca, a display point has been set up where the finished items are displayed and tour groups visit each week and purchase items. 50% of the sale goes towards the woman who made it, 25% towards buying new materials and 25% into a general fund from which a Christmas hamper is bought for each of the mothers. If there is any left over money, the mother’s can decide what they want to do with it. Last year they decided to use it to fund a health clinic for the children and pap smears for all the women in the community.

Posted by JoannaLucy 17:33 Archived in Peru Tagged volunteer Comments (1)

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