This week we realized that we have a true community center. We were much more organized (thanks to the help of new and fantastic and energetic volunteers!) and the kids are responding well. We have formal English classes three times a week now, for adults and kids, as well as a new formal art class once a week taught by a Argentine professor! Add to this we still have new kids and adults coming by every day.
This week was really special for me because neighborhood members really started to get involved in the project, We had donations of old paper clips, a bag of sugar, notebooks, erasers, pencils, empty glass jars, old ribbons, cookies, crackers, and thankful mothers sitting with us and their kids all doing homework together. We had a group of elderly women from the community come in with materials for the kids to make hand painted signs to ask trucks to stop illegally and recklessly driving down our street, (a problem that has resulted in deaths of children and adults alike in Boca), and amidst macaroni necklaces, paper mache balloon eggs and Spanish story read alouds Ali and I looked at each other and suddenly realized that this is working and can only get better. That is not to say there have not been rough moments- kids out of control, a lot of Spanish swears, kids coming in without shoes and stealing from others… but we knew this was not going to be easy and we are not giving up on the kids or the project.
We rely on our volunteers, and there is a lot more we need to do. We had one woman come in and generously give her time and photography skills to take pictures of the center and the kids, and we have had countless other volunteers offer their skills and energy in various fashions. We had a meeting with ACORN and realized that to make this project sustainable for a year, we need to raise roughly $6000… a big goal but one that we think is possible. I do not want to see this center shut down after we leave- and I know the kids do not want that either. We will be having meetings this coming week with community members, ACORN, and volunteers and friends to brainstorm fundraising ideas and sustainability projects- any input is more than welcome!
I’ll leave you with an anecdote… one of our youngest regular kids is four years old. At the end of every day, we let them have a half hour of free time, during which most of the kids choose to play indoor soccer. Ali and I and Fabrizio, our four year old, were on a team against the older boys. In the heat of the game, Fabrizio turned to Ali and I and said, in Spanish, “muéstrelos quienes somos!” (Lets show them who we are!) Out of nothing, with the help and collaboration of too many people to list, we have created something truly special, and I think we should show people who we are, and show them that this is a project that is worth something and that can truly make a difference. We start and end all our emails the same way, saying how excited we are, so I hate saying it again… but we are excited and cannot wait to see what each week brings.