Wednesday, February 3, 2016

A New Site for the Family Support Center

Text and photos by Elizabeth Barnes (unless otherwise noted)

On January 22, after weeks of negotiation and meetings with leaders in Llanos del Pinal, Amy and Carmen received keys to Ixcanul Noj: the community center that now houses the Family Support Center. Since then we've been working hard to transform the backyard and two classrooms into a welcoming environment for the FSC kids.

Before: The backyard at Ixcanul was overgrown with weeds and tall grass. We also found some dangerous trash like broken glass and sharp scraps of rusted metal.
After: Last Friday, four students, two long-term volunteers, Amy, and the FSC staff joined forces to fix the yard. Four hours of machete wielding and trash removing later, the space is in much better shape.
The FSC will operate in two classrooms. One of our classrooms will be for the littlest kids, who will stay with their teacher Lidia all day as they're still too young for school. The other classroom will open when the older kids and their teachers, Gustavo and Santos, arrive for lunch. Because Ixcanul doesn't have a good space for cooking or eating, everyone will continue to eat lunch at the former FSC site, a family's home just across the street.

Though one of the classrooms had been painted previously, the paint was in bad shape.
A thorough scrubbing and three coats of primer prepped the room for painting.
The other classroom had never been painted.
A final coat of primer on Friday...
...made a great foundation for these bright colors. (Photo by Ashley Aue)
Thank you to the FSC staff, mothers of FSC kids, and Pop Wuj staff and volunteers who came out to clean, paint, fix up the garden, and begin moving materials across the street!

On Wednesday, long-term volunteer Dawn, FSC teacher Santos, and students Fiona and Annie put up the first coat of primer.
On Thursday, Pop Wuj student Janet joined Gustavo and Santos to put up a second coat in each room.

Friday morning found Social Work Program students Shay (left) and Brendan (right) helping Gustavo (middle) and the other FSC teachers apply a third coat of primer. (I'm sorry that panoramic mode chopped your arm up, Brendan.)
On Friday afternoon Andrew was one of several students who honed their machete skills in the back yard.
And on Monday morning Nick took a break from volunteering in the clinic with the
Medical Spanish Program to paint as well.
We plan to continue working on the FSC all this week and open the project on Monday February 8th. 

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