Just a little way outside Buenos Aires in a particularly run down suburb, is a special little kindergarten, where two French girls have taken us to see what they are doing here. When we arrive at this colourful little place, the children shout their names in unison and the Clemence and Claire respond in kind. Everyone is happy to be there and help each other out. A child falls from a monkey bar and Clemence rushes to help. The boy picks himself up an carries on without crying.
The first thing I notice about this centre is the incredible words of encouragement all the children receive. When dogs start barking on the street, the children momentarily show fear but then realise it is nothing and carry on playing in their safe bubble. They are distracted by the constant but comparatively basic entertainment they have at their little hands; I was particularly softened by a group of little ones who were determined to help Clemence sharpen their pencils. They seem completely trusting of the volunteers and are safe and confident in their routines.
It is evident that this is a place of limited resources but they make the best of it. The children take turns to play on the swings and seem happy enough making paper planes out of old political leaflets. I can't help but overhear a conversation that one of the helpers is having on the phone, as she talks of a fellow helper's family member who has died and they try to arrange the funeral without the alarming costs. I am left humbled by their modest situation and yet, it is obvious that each one, children and adults alike, make the most of their lot. They make it count.
As we leave to go, having whirled little toddlers on our backs and played with their toys, the helpers bring out a box of chocolate brownies as a surprise and the children are happy to leave with a treat in their hands. We leave empty handed but not empty hearted, all of us a little lifted from our day here. As we catch the bus and drive past a field filled with rubbish and rusting cars, I feel relieved that this little centre of light and fun exists in a world that can feel somewhat dark sometimes. Chatting to the two French girls on the way home, they feel much the same way and are grateful to have experienced this bit of the world and as they prepare to leave on their travels, they talk of their days here with fondness and laughter. A slice of the perfect in the imperfect, I guess.