One of the advantages of volunteering for INTIWAWA is that it gives the opportunity to get out of the city to take part in one of the sides projects in either Coporaque or Salinas.
Luckily for me, I have been to both.
Salinas is located about two hours from Arequipa itself. It is an isolated, preserved little town whose name comes from the gorgeous saltflats.
The idea of the weekend project is to allow the children to have interaction with other cultures as well as some English lessons whilst also allowing the volunteers to see something different from the very european Arequipa.
Therefore, two weeks ago, Sophie (the other frenchie from Intiwawa) and I accompanied Juan Jose and Angelo, the peruvian volunteers in charge of the project out to Salinas. I got up that sunday at 5.30 am to get on the 7am bus to the small village. Two hours later, there we were ready to rock that classroom.
As it turned out, we needn´t dread anything, the kids from 4 to 14 are some of the most enthuastic, knowledge-hungry children I have ever met. Our two hour program was finished in about 30 minutes which meant improvisation most of the time.
After singing several "good morning" songs and having improvised a game going through most kitchen appliances in English, we finally gave the stage to Juan Jose and Angelo who talked about important values, such as punctuality, honesty and respect. After that, while the boys were teaching the kids some games, I took the opportunity to help the mothers, who cook lunch every Sunday. While preparing the food , they taught me some Quechua and laughed a bit at my french accent but also talked about their children and what they wished for them. They asked for simple things like a dictionary or maps for school, mentioning that the teacher had to draw one because there was none available.
Even after all this, there was still a little time for us to walk around and discover the gorgeous saltflats, where I fell disgracefully, stupidly attempted to actually eat salt and got terrified by the many alpacas around. All in all, a great sunday which managed to make me fall in love with the idea of the weekend projects.
The following weekend I got myself in the tricky situation of committing to two week end projects. First Coporoque on Friday and Saturday and then Salinas again on Sunday. As it happened it was the 156th anniversary of Coporaque to which the mayor of the city had nicely invited the Intiwawa team. We were to take part in the official desfiles and I was not going to miss that for the world.
After admiring condors and then almost dying of sheer phyisical pain walking up the Colca Canyon, my fellow volunteer Katie and I showed up to Coporaque exhausted but enthusastic. The following two days would be musical and colourful, dominated by local dances and some of the prettiest dresses and costumes I had seen in my life.
All of the children were happy to take part in our desfile and seemed genuinely interested when we talked to them about the new project our coordinators Kerryn and David are putting forward to give secondary school kids artistic and physical activities on Saturdays. This project is a welcomed addition to the Sunday programs which are similar to those ran in Salinas and will notably feature photgraphy classes, for which we are still trying to fundraise.
To learn more about this specific project : http://camerasforcoporaque.
By Astrid Soufflay