Michelle, a volunteer who is writing the content for the Living Heart website as well as working on fundraising, and I were supposed to meet with the Living Heart project manager at the cafe at 8 to go visit the school in Rumira, one of the communities where Living Heart has projects. The project manager didn't show up so Sonia, assuming she had gone directly to the school, stuck us in a motor-taxi and sent us down the road. It wasn't very far... just about 10 minutes up the street from Ollantaytambo in a picturesque location in the valley.
We walked into the school yard and approached a woman standing in front of a classroom. I asked if the project manager was there and we were told she hadn't arrived yet. Then the woman asked "Are you hear to work with the children." I said "yes," thinking that since we were with the organization, that was the appropriate answer. She led us to a classroom with about 15 students, explained the teacher was sick, and then started to leave. A bit confused, I said, "We aren't teachers!" She just turned and said, "Play with them." Then she rushed out of the classroom and dissapeared. Michelle and I looked at each other nervously. Michelle spoke less Spanish than I did and neither of us had expected we'd have to entertain children. We introduced ourselves and were met by a bunch of expectant faces. Struggling for some activity, I asked them to sing a song. Since that didn't get much of a response, I searched the room for inspiration and noticed a poster of a body with the words in English and Spanish. "Do you know Head and Shoulders Knees and Toes?" I asked Michelle. "Yes, but I'm not going to sing it by myself!" she replied. So I asked the kids if they'd like to learn an English song. Fortunately, they said yes so we taught them "Head and Shoulders." They seemed to enjoy it and several said they knew it in Spanish. So we had them teach us "Cabeza Kara Hombros Pieds" (Head, Face, Shoulders, Legs). Then several said they could sing it in Quechua but the response was kind of scattered so we figured we should move on. We killed some time with numbers and then I asked them to tell me about the names of famous Peruvians hanging from the ceiling. Fortunatly, at that moment the project manager walked in and began cutting up cardboard, explaining the kids were going to make puppets to use when the drama teacher, another volunteer, arrived. A few minutes later, the drama teacher arrived and quickly took over the class. Michelle and I, much relieved, were able to sink into the easy roles of observers. We went out and looked at the garden that had been started using plants and seeds provided by Living Heart.
Then we went back to the drama class. The puppets were ready and the teacher had a group of students put on a show for their classmates. After the puppet show, they played a game where the boys had to say what they hated about girls and vice vers. Responses were that girls were short and drank chicha while boys were drunks. Then they had to say good things which were the girls cooked, washed clothes and cleaned while the boys were romantic, worked in the fields and brought home money. Then they did some improv activities and played an animal game where they acted out different animals, ending with a group impersonation of King Kong.
The kids had a break for a snack of hot cereal, milk and bread. Toward the end of the break, Michelle and I started playing ball with some of the kids. The teacher who had drafted us before jumped on the opportunity again asking, "Do you want to play with the kids?" We said, "Sure," and soon the entire class was sent running down and scattering around the playing field. The girls sat on the bleachers and a couple of the boys started playing with the ball which soon went over the bleachers and into a bush. As I went to find it, I heard a comotion as the students all rushed to one side of the field. I saw them looking at something in the grass and throwing rocks at it. Thinking it was a bug, I continued searching for the ball. Then one of the boys excitedly told me they had found a snake. "Is it dangerous?" I asked. "YES!" he said. I imagined trying to explain to the teacher that a student had been bitten by a poisonous snake while we were supposedly playing ball with them. At that moment the teacher appeared and suggested that we watch the drama teacher's class with the little kids. "We've been fired." I told Michelle.
The little kids were completely enjoying a puppet presentation of the Three Little Pigs. There was lots of audience participation required, including singing a song for the pigs to dance to. After the class, Michelle and I walked back to town.
I managed to finish the Living Heart Web site which is up and online at www.livingheartperu.org
. I also got the updates for www.heartscafe.org
up. Check them out if you are interested in reading about some neat projects to help women and children in the Sacred Valley, Peru.