Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Big Challenges and Bigger Successes - An Update on our Family Support Center

Text by Emily Rempel
Photos by Elizabeth Barnes

The start of 2017 presented us with a bit of an unexpected speed bump for the Family Support Center. In 2016 the Center had operated in the community center Ixcanul Noj in Llanos del Pinal, with snacks and meals being served in the home of Doña Delfina. However in January of this year we were told that Pop Wuj would be required to pay a large monthly amount to rent the space. This fee would have been unsustainable for Pop Wuj so unfortunately we were tasked with finding a new location in Llanos del Pinal.

Over the course of January and well into February Carmen and Family Support Center staff and participants did extensive leg-work to find us a suitable new location, one that would be within-budget but still have all of the requirements necessary to be an effective space. Finally, on February 20th, we signed the papers for our new location. The following week included a huge moving day and many, many hours of dedicated work from the Family Support Center and Pop Wuj staff and volunteers to get the project up and running. On February 27th we were finally able to re-open the doors to the Family Support Center. 

The minute the doors opened, the FSC kids came running through to explore their new home. Our new Center is located behind a store, just a short walk from the local school where many of the students spend their mornings. The space has a large cement courtyard (which is regularly used for energetic soccer games), two classrooms, and a kitchen/dining room. When Carmen asked the kids if they were happy with the new location, she was met by a resounding "¡Sí!" and lots of smiles.

Daniela, Yadira, and Andrea are all smiles in the new Center! 

Another exciting addition to the Family Support Center is our new chef, Kevin Jimenez. Kevin has been preparing healthy and delicious hot lunches and snacks for the kids. During our first meeting with the mothers of the Family Support Center several of them shared that their children had given Kevin rave reviews! Moving forward, Kevin and Carmen will be trying to buy as much produce for the Center as possible from the mothers themselves. Not only will this provide the kids with fresher vegetables, but it offers another way for the Center to support the families of Llanos del Pinal (and vice versa)!

Boys Cook Too!  Julio and Arturo help Kevin in the kitchen

Our older group of students, the mayores, are being taught by FSC director Shaaron. Not only is Shaaron teaching while acting as Director, but she is also working on her Masters degree. The younger group of school-age students, the medianos, are still being taught by Santos, who, like Shaaron, is also pursuing post-secondary education. Our youngest group of kids stay at the Center all day, as they are too young for school. They are cared for by Doña Silvia and Angelica. Angelica is also attending university, but still working with the kids whenever possible. We are so proud of our dedicated, passionate, and hard-working staff! 

Eagerly Awaiting Snack Time

Sharp Hopscotch Skills 
The Center has been up and running strong for just over a month now. On March 8th, to mark International Women's Day, Shaaron and Santos planned some fun activities for the kids. One of the most popular was a game with balloons, where partners had to hold a balloon between their heads and race from one end of the courtyard and back without dropping their it. The message shared with the kids at the end of the activities was that girls can do anything that boys can do! 

Racing Ahead!

Hirrany and Damaris, concentraing hard on keeping their balloon safe!

We also celebrated World Water Day on March 22nd. The kids learned about waste water, the importance of boiling water before consuming it, and how they can help to keep our waters clean and safe. 

"The Importance of Water" - A beautiful informational poster by one of our talented participants
Although 2017 started off slowly and (very) stressfully, we're so excited to be back on track, providing 25 kids from Llanos del Pinal with a safe space to grow, play, and learn. Thank you all for your continued support of our project! 

Student Coordinator Elizabeth taking a group selfie with Yosvin and Andrea

Group coloring session with Pop Wuj Spanish student Jamie

No comments:

Post a Comment