Imagine growing up in a neighborhood that doesn’t exist – neither on a map, nor acknowledged by your country. The houses are built solely by the community of construction workers, and without government funding, they are limited to the materials and resources at their disposal – from donations, from volunteers, and quite possible from the giant landfill that sits square in their backyard.
This is the reality of Buenos Aires shanty town “Los Eucaliptos”, and like the genus of flowering trees, the growing families inhabiting the neighborhood need water to survive, more than ever during the scorching hot summers in Argentina. Yet, there is no water supply in Los Eucaliptos; instead, family members must carry tanks six blocks away or further to retrieve water from surrounding neighborhoods.
As more families sought refuge in the neighborhood, there was an urgent need for a kindergarten, as a safe haven for children to play, eat, and develop skills while their parents worked. Lorena, a mother of the neighborhood, took charge, and with the help of Voluntario Global volunteers, donations, and community resources, built the kindergarten.
Viviana, one of the teachers, welcomed us with a glass of cold water, and showed us around the modest kindergarten. The way she spoke about the place suggested that it was more than just a kindergarten but a place of refuge, where the children would be surrounded by caring individuals while learning solidarity and mutual respect.
The palpable excitement radiated from Viviana when she displayed the new bathroom facility and the freshly-painted walls, all made possible from donations and volunteers, and showed how dedicated these community members are to creating a safe and friendly setting for children to grow intellectually and emotionally, while getting the proper care in an otherwise unstable environment.
This eye-opening visit to the kindergarten made me check my privilege and the things I take for granted (like easy access to fresh water) which is a daily chore for those living in Los Eucaliptos. It also made me pleased to know that I am volunteering for an organization that’s been continuously supporting an education centre for children within the neglected community.
Learn more about the project and how you can volunteer at the kindergarten here.