PAINTING CASITA DE MADERA
Last Saturday saw an expedition force of Otra Cosa volunteers descend on Casita de Madera all in the name of redecorating. The goal for our paintbrush wielding task force was to redecorate Casita de Madera in Villa Los Angeles, on the outskirts of Huanchaco. Casita de Madera is a daycare centre for children aged 5-8, aimed at improving their skills before they enter school. The building which houses the kindergarten, as the name suggests, is a little wooden house and although recently weatherproofed on the outside, the inside was a bare, dusty and pretty uninspiring place for the children to spend their time. And so armed with paintbrushes, paint and a rake or two we arrived ready to transform the Casita....
Cue problem number one....no running water at the Casita. Its quite amazing the things you take for granted. Having had to beg, steal and borrow paintbrushes and rollers we were a little concerned that our chosen colour scheme might come to nothing since we couldn't clean our brushes. Never fear, a rummage around the room later and we had volunteers armed with the children's mini paintbrushes ready to brighten up the room. While the female of the species were busy redecorating inside the Casita, the guys took charge of the heavy lifting outside, transforming the existing, rubble strewn 'playground' into a safe area for the kids to play in. Utilising landscape gardening skills I don't think anyone knew they possessed, rubble was cleared, paths were built, slides were painted and the whole area was raked clear of debris. Whilst all the work was going on we had local mums and children casting a watchful eye over proceedings, keeping the volunteers in check and also providing us with some much needed cold refreshments. They day also lent itself to some impromptu English lessons for the kids as they learnt new words from the guys in the playground and then ran up to the Casita to practice them with us girls.
Whilst the sauna conditions in the Casita, combined with the spiders and flies led to moments of complaints from us all at some point, they also provided moments of reflection. You realise that these are the conditions the kids are living in everyday, worlds away from the bright and well equipped daycare centres that we are used to back home. Seeing the end product of our day, how just a little bit of paint and a clear up transformed the Casita into a much more cheerful place was massively rewarding. It was also a really great opportunity for me to do some hands on volunteering. I work here as an office volunteer and so don't get to spend as much time as other volunteers with the kids at the projects, so getting to work outside and see tangible results at the end of the day was hugely important. Experiencing the conditions at Casita, with the multitude of flies also motivated the volunteers into a fundraising drive to raise money for fly nets. Such a simple addition but something that will make a massive difference for the children who attend Casita. And at the end of the day, helping to make a difference to peoples lives is why we are all here.
Click here to apply and find out more about volunteering at Casita de Madera.