Richard and I have found some wonderful opportunities for volunteering now that we are here for an extended period of time. We are working with an organization called "Ojala" (www.ojala-kids.org). This is an after school program and Richard goes on Monday afternoons to teach the children English.He is having wonderful success using his juggling balls as a way to engage the children and have them learn words, body parts, action verbs, etc. Next week he will bring some magic tricks to show them as well. They are happy to be learning and having fun at the same time.
I go on Wednesdays to help with the art classes. Here are pictures from last Wednesday when I worked with the kids on collage cards for Dia de la Madre (Mother's Day). There has been an ongoing project that just finished after one year working on miniatures. These are minatures of Casa de las Flores - a flower store. I am not able to speak very well with the kids but with a bit of sign language and some encouraging words to the kids I am really enjoying this opportunity. This program is in Viejo San Miguel which is a small part of the old town which is about 15 minutes outside the city in the countryside. The younger kids (eating their oranges for snacktime) are in a different area but meet up with all of us at the end.
My other volunteer activity is with Mujeres en Cambio - an organization that raises money for women in the countryside to attend school. After primary school the families have to pay for books, uniforms and other fees so often it is only the young boys who go to school. Right now we have 150 girls who are going to HS or university through this scholarship program. Here is the website for more information: (www.mujeresencambio.com) I am working on a cookbook that they are putting together for fundraising based on the recipes from the guest chefs and members over one year of their fundraising luncheons.
I know that these are important opportunities for helping others but I find that it helps me in many ways as well - giving is receiving - we meet new friends, see happy people, and live on in the tradition of our families of helping others.
If anyone wants more information or wants to contribute money to any of these worthwhile organizations - please let me know.