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Volunteering at Fundación Minadores de Sueños

Bailar la vida!

sunny 10 °C

I stopped over Baños and took a daylight bus to Guayaquil (night buses are not recommended in Ecuador, especially if you are on your own) and got there around 2p.m. The hostel was close to the bus terminal but very far away from downtown. I took a bus right after leaving my things in the hostel; the bus ride took 45 minutes into town. The city is noisy, chaotic and too polluted… it wasn’t the best start. However, I decided to visit El Malecón, the newly built harbor and the neighborhood of Las Peñas. These were actually really nice, but….that was it.
Guayas (short word for Guayaquil) is not a touristy place and it does feel a bit unsafe. It did not seem the best place to stay for a month; so, although I was going to visit the kid foundation, I was pretty much determined that I would not stay and that I would go back to Quito to search for more places to volunteer. And so I did. I got to Quito the next day and went visiting another place that worked with children….it sounded well but they were not promising many hours per week, so I decided to hold it with a question mark. It was already the end of the week: I had been travelling a lot and had not met anyone to speak to, so I was starting to feel down.
I met Henrik down in Baños for the weekend. He had had a fantastic week, whilst mine had been too much hard work. But it was good to meet and speak. We also decided to release some adrenaline and did a jump from a bridge 120 m high. I went first. I was really freaking out and backed up twice before I threw myself “to void”. The jump was awesome, but afterwards we swung in there for a couple of minutes before they would get us down; that was still 50 m high and it felt really scary… Henrik, who is normally braver than me with these things, looked quite scared but he did not hesitate. The only thing is that I was trying to get a photo with the jump but the camera got stuck and it would not snap  . Well, at least there is a photo with me jumping…
Still can´t belive that Laura jumped from a 75 meter bridge...

Still can´t belive that Laura jumped from a 75 meter bridge...


That day I also got a reply from a foundation in Quito which needed volunteers. The minimum commitment is normally two months, but since I am Spanish and it doesn’t take long to adapt to the children with the language, you become “effective” straight away, and they said that it would be good to have me there and teach them some dance moves, at the same time that I would do a full dance therapy with them. I would also help them with homework and any other staff that needed to be done in the foundation.
The weekend came to an end and Henrik went back to the center, while I went back to Quito to decide which foundation to choose. In the end I went for Minadores de Sueños. Marco, the Swiss guy who started it, had an apartment for the volunteers in the neighborhood. It is a perfectly ok flat and the price is only USD 6 a day including meals and laundry.
The Foundation is located just downhill from where the apartment is, which is good. You get to experience what’s like to live in the area. It feels truly authentic.
The kids go to school in the morning and come to the Foundation at 1 pm where some eat lunch and the others come afterwards, at 2 pm, to go to the classroom and do the homework.
There are 42 kids in total, from 6 to 12 years old. They have very strong difficulties with their homework. Some are way behind in school so they need to reinforce certain areas, like math or science. On Tuesday, Rafael, the other volunteer from Switzerland, and me accompanied Rosi, one of the teachers, to one of the kids’ school and that was very interesting to see. Since the Barrio doesn't have its own school, kids have to cross a highway everyday to take a bus that take them to the school; the one we visit resembled more of a prison than a primary school; tiny classrooms crammed with screaming kids and a the gym class that was taking place outdoor reminded me of a soldiers march...
Also, the homework the kids got assigned was killing; for example: a kid would have to copy 2.000 times a serie of numbers. There was so much dumb homework that seemed more of way to keep the kids busy, rather that making them use their brains. Incredible!
I started my classes on Tuesday with 3rd grade (kids of 8 years old) and it was very interesting to work with them; I set up five different programs for the different groups.
For the youngest kids (including 3rd) I decided to do more of a creative dance program, whilst for the oldest ones we combined more exercices of Biodanza with a modern dance coreography.
We did enjoy the classes together.
There is also a group of teens who comes every weekend and I prepared a workshop of Biodanza for them, along with one of teachers. That was probabily one of the best teaching experiences for me: we spent 3 hours preparing the programme, selecting the music, arranging the space...the workshop lasted 4 hours. Since we didn't know each other very well, the first minutes were a bit odd but soon everyone got into it. We created a small bubble in that place and each of us were deeply inside.
I also had the opportunity to visit one od the kid's school. Since the Barrio doesn't have its own school, kids have to cross a highway everyday to take a bus that take them to the school; the one we visit resembled more of a prison than a primary school; tiny classrooms crammed with screaming kids and a the gym class that was taking place outdoor reminded me of a soldiers march...
The experience was unique: it was nice to meet the kids, the teachers,Last dance together!

Last dance together!

Good bye to the kids. Estefania and me saying Adiós!

Good bye to the kids. Estefania and me saying Adiós!

Raffael, the kids amn me posing the last day

Raffael, the kids amn me posing the last day

the couple who founded the place and Raffael, the swiss guy who volunteered in the place too.
It will remain in my heart F O R E V E R.

The girls who loved the Shakira moves!

The girls who loved the Shakira moves!

Kids from the youngest dancing class

Kids from the youngest dancing class

The teacher who I made the workshop with!

The teacher who I made the workshop with!

Youngest dancing group!

Youngest dancing group!

The boys from one of the dancing class...

The boys from one of the dancing class...

the trouble makers...

the trouble makers...

Who is the fastest?

Who is the fastest?

Biodanza workshop

Biodanza workshop

David en me, last day in the foundation

David en me, last day in the foundation

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Posted by hmontonen 05:14 Archived in Ecuador

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