After a beautifully picturesque flight from Lima to Arequipa, over snow-capped mountain peaks and deep valleys, we were met by the team from New Hope Children's Centre, and made our way to our home for the next 7 days.
The team enjoyed a fantastic lunch at New Hope, before being given a tour of the centre and finding out more about the work we will be doing here. The rest of the afternoon was spent playing football, volleyball and table tennis with some of the kids, before a dinner of Peruvian hotdogs. Just before bed we experienced an earth tremor! This is not uncommon in Arequipa and, while the arequipeños are used to these tremors, it was an exciting experience for all of us!
On our first working day at the children's home, we we were first split into groups to work on various projects around the home. One group started the morning digging a trench for the piping of a new hose tap in the children's playing area before sanding the new play equipment ready for varnish. The play area was built by a previous volunteering team who visited the children's centre this year.
The second group sanded down the walls of a set of new offices, preparing them for painting later in the week. The team were taken aback by just how long it took to smooth down the walls, but were very impressed with their final result! A third group worked on the design and colour panel for painting the nursery. New Hope recently expanded their care to include babies as young as 6 months, so this will be a vital new area.
The final group started their day by clearing dirt from underneath the swing set to make it ready for sowing grass seeds, before digging out the top layer of sand in another area to enable artificial grass to be laid. We then neatened up an edge next to the playing equipment by filling it with stones we had collected and moved by the wheelbarrow full. Meanwhile, the other teams started varnishing parts of the newly sanded play equipment, and even repainted the Wendy house (well, the first coat anyway!).
We finished working around 2:30pm for lunch. Over the week at New Hope we will be split into groups to eat lunch with the children in their "casas", or houses. Rather than caring for the children as one large group, the children live in smaller family units, with around 8 children per each house, and are looked after by a house mum. While we ate, we talked to the children to learn more about their lives and hopes for the future. This was a little challenging for our teams due to the language barrier! Despite this, we still had a laugh and a thoroughly good time as we used a Spanish phrase book, pointing at the phrase as we tried to pronounce it and trying to work out the children’s responses!
In the evening we played a huge game of volleyball between Oakwood Park Grammar students and the children at New Hope. It was great fun and everyone got involved! Most evenings we will get involved in a team sport or activity, leading up to a talent show on our last night, which we will compete in with our "casa" groups of both OPGS students and the Peruvian children. We are looking forward to getting back to work and seeing a bit more of surrounding Arequipa in the next few days!
Contributor: Tom M