Responsibility and initiative

My name is Anna, I am a volunteer in the Paraíso de Infancia Los GUSANITOS in Granada. First of all, I would like to say that every volunteering experience may be different depending on your own initiatives and likes. However, there is always a need for extra hands with the youngest children, so I spend a lot of time with them. Currently the youngest child is just 9 months old. It has been great to see him develop from wanting to be carried around all the time (and crying when this did not happen) to preferring playing with the other children (and now barely ever cries). This young group plays a lot, and when they don’t, they either sleep or eat! After we all have lunch together, I help with brushing their teeth and getting them ready for nap time.
Three times a week I teach English to three groups of children. One group is very young with children of just 2-3 years, and to be honest, it is a challenge to play with them in English. It is easier with the older groups of children who are around 5 – and many of these children really want to learn English. We have done a lot of drawing, singing, and games to learn some vocabulary. In the afternoons I also help the children with their homework. Many are learning how to write the letters and numbers – which can be very difficult for some children. In fact, this is one of the reasons Los GUSANITOS is such an important project for the children. I was quite shocked to see that some children up to the age of 10 did not know the letters – let alone how to read. Given the low standard of education in some of the schools, it is good that the children can receive some extra classes here.
A second reason why Los GUSANITOS is important is its function as a safe place to spend the day. There is food, responsible adults, and friends. There are fun activities and useful social and educational lessons. Sadly, the alternative for many children would be very different to this. My first impression of Granada was actually that the poverty did not seem as extreme as I had imagined. However, I now know more about what kinds of problems there are. I know that some parents do not care to send their children to school and some do not (or cannot) feed their children. The children need day care centres like these to learn new values and to improve their chances for a better future.
(Anna Buus Kristensen, Denmark)