Today is my last day as a volunteer teacher of 23 children ages 4-5 at Jardin de Niños: Luis Pasteur kinder school in La Peñita.
I am sad to leave. I had finally learned all of the children’s names, and when I return in December half of the class will be new. It has been a wonderful experience working with Jane Fellows the founder of KinderAide, Denise the kinder teacher and the happy, spontaneous children.
My journey with KinderAide began in October 2012 when I contacted Jane about volunteering in the class. I had taught kindergarten and primary classes for many years in Canada. Jane and I met in December and quickly developed a warm and trusting relationship.
After watching Jane’s enthusiastic and professional presentation, I was nervous. My Spanish is very limited and the children were wary of me. Our oral English lessons were 20 minutes long. We sang songs, counted forward and backwards, practiced the vocabulary for the colours, emotions, body parts and names of sea animals. Every lesson the children completed a craft (provided by donations) that they were so proud to bring home. They made sun visors, puppets, pipe cleaner octopus and little books.
The children learned some English words and had the opportunity to trust and laugh with an adult who has a different coloured skin. But I learned so much more.
I also had the opportunity to talk to people and show them around the school to see what projects had been completed and where donation monies go. Most of the visitors did not realize that KinderAide was financing infrastructure projects such as tiled floors, outdoor kitchens, shaded eating areas and pumped water to the toilets, so that the mothers did not have to use a bucket to flush the toilets. Many thought that KinderAide just supplied volunteer teacher and provided supplies.
The KinderAide Street Fundraiser dance was also a new experience for me. The music was great, the food good, the beer flowed and the donations kept coming. My hands were numb and my nails broke, but I opened over 200 bottles of Pacifico, a new skill to add to my resume.
I am looking forward to returning to Luis Pasteur kinder and the KinderAide project next December. The experience has been so rewarding.
by Cath Goodwin (March 20, 2013)
Note from Jane Fellows: After the loss of my husband in December,
Cath Goodwin landed in my lap like an angel. She took over email correspondence, coordinating volunteers, and was happy to take over my teacher days when I just couldn’t cope. What a blessing to me and KinderAide. Thank you.
About KinderAide: KinderAide was established in January of 2011 by Jane Fellows. It is an independent, non-profit group of volunteers whose primary goal is to help children attending kinder schools in La Peñita in their quest to learn English, with the assistance of volunteer teachers and donated school supplies. To learn more, visit the KinderAide community website.
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