And there the two kids were, puking on their chairs. A month ago I went to Zanzibar on the white beach to see some children, something different I thought, and I succeeded.
Birthday of Ricardo
The kids just celebrated their classmate’s birthday. Who came in with his whole family and just gave cake, lemonade and a thick white sandwich with ham to everyone. Then came the school snack, a traditional sweet corn bread filled with beans, super tasty, but much for the children’s stomachs. Oh, and also chocolate drink, traditionally people in Guatemala don’t eat their chocolate, but drink it.
So I wasn’t really surprised that they threw up. This is really the proof that eating and drinking a lot of (sugar) is not healthy for every child’s stomach. Luckily the smell is not that bad, because they have only just put it in their mouths, so there is not much bile on top of it. Haha, sorry, I will stop, but then you have an idea where I ended up.
Volunteering at Niños de Guatemala
Since this week I am volunteering at a school in Guatemala, via Niños de Guatemala, once started by the Dutch Marten in 2006. It started to open schools for parents who can’t afford it – excuse for this promo talk, but I think it’s really necessary – and first of all by many Dutch donors who have raised enough money to build a school, to open it and most importantly: to keep it open.
Education is the way to overcome poverty and I see that every day. The children learn a lot. It is necessary, because many parents don’t see the need to send their children to school in Guatemala. Working children are normal here. I see many children eating or selling souvenirs on the streets. Very sad to see, because you know that they will do that for the rest of their lives.
Public education is not free
In addition, public education in Guatemala is not free of charge. If you want to have your child at a public school, you have to buy the books and materials yourself, just like the school uniform. Many parents don’t have that money or don’t see the value of education and are not willing to spend money on it.
Now there are three schools. Two primary schools and one secondary school, but getting by is not easy. Many children have a sponsor. For 50 dollars (about 35 euros) per month a child can go to school. This is how they get the most money to turn around.
That it is not easy you can see because they no longer offer a lunch and only a snack. This does not seem important, but not all children get good or hardly any food. And I’ve seen them, the children who work the food inside as if they haven’t eaten for a day (and I’m afraid they haven’t).
It’s great fun to do, but you get very tiring and expensive children for free, but it also gives me a lot of money. First of all it is very good for my Spanish. The children don’t care that I don’t understand it, they just keep asking. I also get a lot more from the culture. Also because I’m not in Antigua, which is very touristy, but a village outside. I am the only foreigner there. When the bus sees me arriving in this village and they go to Antigua they usually stop, a tourist has to want to go to Antigua.
The best part is of course working with the children. They are so fun and relaxed. But I also see another side. The children I accompany get two hours in Spanish and two hours in English. And they are five years old! I’m amazed at what they’re already capable of, the colours, shapes, the weather and themselves, and they’re already able to ask how things are going in English. Just like a lot of toys. They also often ask me what a particular game is in English, but yes, that’s so specific to Guatemala, that I usually don’t know it either.
It’s also nice to teach them from day 1. In English then, because my Spanish is not yet perfect. Although I can help them with simple exercises like counting. The trick of course is that they mainly tell me what makes me learn as well as they do, but then they don’t know.
I’ll be in Guatemala for a while
I’ve decided to do this for a while, too. I don’t want to see a lot of touristic things anymore, and I still party at the weekend, but I really like to give something back instead of just travelling. Besides, everyone in Guatemala is so open, friendly and they accept as you are, that makes it a lot of fun. I’m not really a sight to see, as is the case in some countries, so I feel normal. This may sound a bit crazy, but in many countries I am really the blonde girl with whom everyone wants to be photographed instead of having a normal conversation. Here in Guatemala I am just the teacher for the kids and for their parents. They don’t care what I look like. Very nice.
And that’s why I’m staying here for a while. Until the end of May. Then there will be new adventures and hopefully my Spanish will be so good that I can do a blog in Spanish, that’s a good thing, because after a morning to keep the kids calm I still have three hours of Spanish lessons. Very nice, instructive and I make huge leaps, but speak fluently? No, that will take a while.
Words that I know very well are, sit (sentarse), watch out (cuidado) and puke (vomitar) of course, why would that be?
Help the kids
To support the school I want to raise money. Goal is 1000 euro. I think it should be doable if everyone deposits a small amount of money.
The kids – and I – are very grateful to you for it. Muchas gracias!!!