One of our sabbatical desires is dedicating around one month of our journey to the volunteering. Since the needs in Central America are endless, we had quite a choice. Taking our passions and the local needs into consideration we decided to support local education by working at an English school (Wojtek Sr and Jr) and at a kinder (Ania Sr and Jr).
Unfortunately many volunteering organizations operating in Latin America want to make a good buck while mediating between the willing and the needy. Many a time they demand lots of money from volunteers so that they can come in their free time, paying for everything themselves just to help others!! From our observations very little, if any money, reaches those in need. To all those interested in doing volunteer work in Latin America we recommend just to come here without going through any administration process. You will find plenty of opportunities to help.
Back to our volunteering this time I will focus on the English programme, where we work together with Wojtus. Ania will create a separate post about the kinder.
The English school in El Porvenir was founded exactly a year ago by Anne Fowler with great help of Iris Zulema Carranza. Anne comes from Canada and for almost 20 years now has been helping selflessly the people of Honduras in many different ways. She is an amazing woman, full of positive energy, bold and open to other people. After many years of professional career as a nurse, American Airlines flight attendant and subsequently owner of a successful HR business Anne decided to retire and keep herself busy helping people in Central America (first Guatemala and then Honduras). Each year she spends around 6 months in Honduras and 6 months back home in Canada. It is not hard to guess when Anne is not in Canada. Among myriad of initiatives started and continued by Anne there is an eye and dental care program for the kids and the poor, healthy living education, bee bag program (those hand-made bags are so unique). The Porvenir English Program (PEP) is the Anne’s youngest baby. To learn more about Anne and her programs you can visit http://anne.honduranhope.net/
The classes at the English school take place every day. There are 6 groups of kids (3 in the morning and 3 in the afternoon) plus additional classes in smaller groups, so-called tutoring. Obviously the classes are free and are open to all kids. They are run by some volunteers as well as a licensed EFL teacher, Iris.
With huge support of Wojtus Jr. we run two morning classes ourselves and have an extra class of tutoring afterwards.
The teaching conditions are quite good. The school has its own building and all the necessary teaching tools. Having its own building is quite important. Previously, the classes took place in the building of the local public school. Since the teachers’ strikes are quite common here, every time the school was on strike the building was closed for other activities as well. Speaking about the teachers’ strikes, for the 5 weeks we have been working in El Porvenir, there have been no classes at all due to another teachers’ strike! It is so unfortunate for this second poorest country in the western hemisphere (after Haiti). During each school year the kids miss a lot of weeks, sometimes months of school. If you add to it a very short, average period of education for each kid of only 6, the implications for the economic development are clear.
We try to make our classes stimulating. The local kids are very similar in their temper to the Polish children. Since the school is open for all, the differences in learning pace can be quite big. Some kids can barely write or read, forcing us to be more flexible.
Here is a few short videos of our classes and their effects.
This work brings us a lot of satifaction. Wojtus Jr, hearing a lot of Spanish after about a month started communicating himself in a very simple way in that language. Amazing! He had never had any exposure to that language. Since our both kids are fluent in all Spanish numbers they sometimes help their mother with the shopping. Win-win all around.