Story of the project
This project, located in José León Suárez, was born in 2001 and originally worked with teenagers that suffered from substance abuse. They started this project in order to give these kids a chance to stay off the streets. Then, they had the idea to turn this into a maternal project where they could help newborns and their mother's. This is how in 2007, the kindergarten was created for kids between the ages of 1 and 5 years old. Here they give them a safe place, food and activities while the parents are at work or at school. Nowadays, this place also works as a soup kitchen later during the day where they help provide food for 50+ families. Right now they work with the municipality and they supply them with enough food, materials and necessities at the moment but something that needs to be taken into account is that this is not always the case and that everything changes when a different administration comes into office.
The area where the kindergarten is located is relatively new and still developing. A majority of the workers that live here, work in construction, therefore they try to urbanize the area all together. A major issue is dealing with waste, which is abundant and generates illnesses. This problem is also due to the fact that the waste companies are private, therefore, the community inhabitants cannot afford to hire them and the government does not pay that either. Right now they consider their biggest issue is the amount of helping hands they have. It is very difficult to keep this place running with a small staff and a small budget as well. Hence the importance for them in receiving external help, such as volunteers As their main objective is to take care of the children. It needs to be highlighted that they work with migrant families who therefore are more vulnerable. Most families that go to the project are from Paraguay Uruguay, Perú and Bolivia who work in Buenos Aires.
In the past the kindergarten has moved to various rented buildings, but on the 1st of August 2016, they could build the current place. When the land for the current building was first bought, it had little more than two walls, and although now the land has a proper building on it, the site is still in construction. The kindergarten currently has around 50 children aged 8 months to around 5 years old. The children are separated into 3 different rooms depending on age. There are 6 members of staff in total, ladies from the local area, 4 working in the rooms with the children and two that prepare the food and other tasks.
Why is this project important for the community?
The founder, Liliana, had previously worked with youths and realised that many had to bring their children with them to work and that the neighbourhood lacked a place for parents to take their children during the day so that they could study or work. The kindergarten was opened to provide the safe place that parents needed, a place where their children could play, learn and eat a healthy lunch.
Role of the Volunteer
With around 50 children to care for in slightly difficult surroundings, the kindergarten is always in need of a helping hand!
Here is what an average day would look like:
At 8am the children arrive and the first thing that they do is eat breakfast all together at the tables in the main room.
After eating breakfast, the children go into their separate rooms to play. They play and do different activities until 10am when they have snack time.
Snack time also takes place in the main room and all the children come together again, sitting at the tables and eating crisps, fruit, biscuits, crackers or other small snack foods and drinking juice.
After snack time the children play more and often do craft activities like painting or colouring.
At around quarter to 12 all the children have lunch, again in the main room at the tables, the lunch is usually pasta or potatoes, meat or empanadas.
After lunch the majority of the children take a nap. The children leave at various different times after lunch.
Here is a list of the different tasks available to volunteers:
Most often the kindergarten needs help in the rooms with the children helping to play. The volunteers spend time playing with the children, with toys or with craft activities and other games and help keep the children entertained and safe. The activities vary depending on age and new activities introduced by the volunteers are very welcome!
Help to prepare lunch for the children- the lunch is prepared in the kindergarten by the kindergarten staff and each day they cook and prepare enough to give each child a good healthy meal;
Helping to serve lunch- preparing the plates and giving them out to the children;
Helping to clear up after meals- children can be very messy eaters! After the children have eaten the volunteer can help to clear the plates and clean the tables and floor.
What can you learn as a volunteer?
Volunteering at this kindergarten will give volunteers an opportunity to practise their Spanish, either in conversation with staff for those speaking a higher level of Spanish, or learning basic vocabulary with the children. Volunteers will quickly learn colours, animals, numbers and dates, as well as useful phrases for helping and organising children. You will also gain valuable experience caring for young children, keeping them safe and entertained with certain activities from observing how the ladies at the kindergarten care for the children.
How does your work impact on the community?
Volunteers will have the opportunity to learn more about the Argentinian culture. The ladies working at this kindergarten love to teach the volunteers about their culture, cooking them traditional dishes and favourite foods, offering mate, and discussing the differences with the volunteer’s home culture. Also, volunteering at this kindergarten also offers the volunteer a chance to reflect on the differences compared to kindergartens at home, and experience the incredible work of the ladies in these areas.
For this project volunteers will leave at 8am and travel by public transport to the kindergarten, arriving at around 10am. Volunteers will stay with the children until 12:30/ 1pm.
The Center is located in Jose Leon Suarez, about 50-minute far from the centre of Buenos Aires and accessible by public transport.
1. Valid Passport & Visa: Most travelers do not need a visa to enter Argentina. Volunteers enter the country as tourists and can stay for up to 90 days. Extensions on your stay are possible; our coordinators will advise you on this process.
2. Medical Insurance: Voluntario Global requires the volunteer to have adequate medical insurance for the duration of the program and must be provided with details of such insurance coverage at the time of confirming their placement.
3. Spanish Level Required: Spanish is not required, although it always helps to be able to communicate in Spanish in site.
4. Minimum Stay: 2 weeks.