Posted on November 1, 2017
The organization I am volunteering in, is called the Santa Martha Foundation.
This organization has a house, Villa Martha, to receive and protect the poorest children in the neighborhood that have problems in the family or are at socio-economic risk. In this house, there are 5 different groups of children, Cuna, which houses the youngest children until about two years. The second group is Celeste, which houses children up from 2 years up until about 5 years. Verde, which houses children between about 5 and 7 years. And then there's Niños grande y Niñas grande, which are the children, boys and girls respectively, between 8 and 18. More information about this institution can be found at: www.fundacionsantamartha.org/eng.
The group I work at, is Niñas grande, where 18 children live, 13 permanent and 5 of them go home in the weekends. In total, there are about 70 children living in this house. But next to the children, there are also tutors and "mamas" living here, because also at night, someone has to take care of the kids. The "mama" in my group lives here for 5 days and then goes home for 2, after which another 5 days follow, etc. This is therefore equal to a 120-hour workweek!!
Enough about the institution, the daily schedule of this group is the other subject of this post!
The girls wake up at 5:30 AM, do their cleaning tasks until 6:00, when they have to take a (freezing cold) shower and get ready for breakfast, which is served at 7:00. All the children (70) are together when eating breakfast, lunch and dinner. At 8:00, it is time to get the girls to school, after which the "quiet" moments start, because almost all the children in the house are at school. I do however, use this time to help prepare lunch and dinner in the kitchen. The children finish school at 12:50, when we get them from school. After this they change their school uniforms for "normal" clothes, and go for lunch. After lunch, at 13:15, some cleaning has to be done and homework has to be made before the academic workshops start at 3:30 PM, these are extra classes organized by the institution, depending on their level. This finishes at 5, after which they have an hour to finish their homework or enjoy their free time. At 6, they take another shower and get ready for dinner at 7. After dinner, there is again some cleaning and then they go to bed, because the next day also starts at 5:30 AM. There is however always time for a bedtime story, which both them and I really enjoy, as they ask me again every night.
This is only the daily schedule of the weekdays, because in the weekends, it is filled with a bit more cleaning, but most of all, a lot more free time. I have only been here for one weekend though, but the past weekend, there was a speaker outside the building and everybody danced. The Sunday was mostly filled with playing in- and outside. Inside the house, they play with all their dolls or play a game, and outside, there's a slide, some swings and a soccer field.
This really reminds me of my childhood, playing outside or with dolls rather than inside playing video games. It however really does not look like most of the Dutch children of today, as those are much more ‘online’. The children are happy though, which shows that children really don’t need iPads and stuff to be happy! Even though sometimes it is nice to play with an iPad for a change, see the result below ;) Furthermore, the children are the cutest; they call me señorita and greet me all day long :) But, as most children, they have their moments of not being so cute, let’s leave it to that 😜