During 2007, PAIC worked with 28 children between the ages of 4 and 14. Normally the participants are between 7-14 years old but we realized that by expanding the age range, more children could come as many older siblings baby-sit their younger siblings during meeting times. While this responsibility makes them mature faster, it limits their daily activities. As a result, we invited the elder siblings to attend with their brothers and sisters. This is an excellent opportunity for them to both take care of their siblings and interact with other children of their same age, and everyone learns.
We expanded the program by visiting all the schools near Mi Cometa, and forming relationships with their leaders, authorities and also parents. They sent some of the most outstanding students in the superior levels to our organization. The representatives of the schools in the sector also participated and collaborated with our program. It was soon after that this representatives were immersed and part of our community.
Many of the youth leaders who have been involved since the program’s inception had to leave the PAIC this year upon finishing high school and moving on to paid work, college, or family responsibilities. We appreciated the work that these youth put in over the past three years and we have been searching for leaders to replace them who are committed to the community and cognizant of child development issues. We are constantly fighting to find replacement leaders, against all obstacles.
This year we had a summer trip during the children´s school vacation. We took a trip to an outdoor complex (including a water park) owned by the local police force.
The youth leaders also ran workshops about drugs and alcohol prevention for adolescents and children in our neighborhood. Some of the main participants were members of PAIC.
We also host parties for the children. Generally the main motive behind these festivities is to celebrate the Children’s Day (Día del Niño) and Christmas. Fortunately, we have always received local support to supplement our budget and volunteers. This support comes from young people from the neighborhood, volunteers from local colleges, or friends who come from higher socio-economic positions. They have attend the parties, enliven them, and also in some cases when they can, they come with gifts and / or baskets of basic goods.
These events become an open space for children to develop any artistic ability they have. This is also an opportune time to bring together the different children’s groups that are part of PAIC (there are several groups that meet in different neighborhood parks). It is also an opportunity for parents to participate and contribute with ideas and to prepare something for their children’s party; it is something that is entirely voluntary but that brings the community together.
The expenses were mainly operating expenses, including:
-The purchase of equipment such as Dynamic Books that we acquired
-Expenses for presenting the “PAIC” project to potential funding agencies
The leaders of the organization try to keep costs to a minimum, because we want the program to continue regardless of our financial situation. This is our strategy until the Project and the drafted budget are financed. The “Movimiento Mi Cometa” strongly supports us by providing us with materials such as paper, pencils, cards, scissors, etc. At the same time we also teach the children we work with how to be responsible citizens, pointing them towards activities like recycling and micro-business.
In this year/2009
This year, our fourth year of operation, we would like to restructure the program somewhat. We have 4 youth leaders at present, but we have received many invitations in order to expand to the surrounding areas.
We work closely with issues, including:
-Food and Health
-Civics and Respect
-Awareness of different world-wide events
-And above all, a peace culture
The average number of children participating in the program remains constant. The reasons that old members no longer participate are because they have other obligations on Saturdays when our program is run, such as studying, catechesis, and weekend classes.
PAIC enjoys great popularity within the region. Such popularity has spread among children and their parents in the community. As a result, there are many children who are part of the program and who are able to benefit from the activities offered. The children who are members of PAIC come every week because they enjoy it. It is such a delightful and well-spent time that they have requested that we meet not just on Saturdays but also on Sundays. In addition, the open houses conducted by “Movimiento Mi Cometa”, give us the opportunity to demonstrate to the community the results of this program. It is also an opportunity that allows our program to become known in the community. This also creates a direct link with Movimiento Mi Cometa, and our participants also are active in other initiatives offered by the organization, and new children find out about and join our program through this connection.
Since its founding, the Children’s Community Action Project has been working to educate children on their human rights, as well issues relevant to their families and community. It works to give children a sense of awareness of their community, build their self-esteem, and teach leadership skills. As the leaders of the project are young adults from Guasmo Sur, the slum community in which they work, the leaders are in touch with the challenges the children face.
Entering into its third year, the program continues to teach these topics to the 70 children who continue to participate in the program. Jose Luis Echeverria Lara, a 22-year-old native of Guasmo Sur, began as the the community development organization that houses the Children’s Community Action Project, continues to work to develop curriculum and oversees the implementation of the youth program. Ana Andrade Sanchez, once a youth leader, now coordinates the youth leader training program and works with the group of teenagers who lead the weekly children’s group activities.
Over time, the group of youth leaders has lost some leaders when they graduated from high school, but the remaining five leaders form a tight-knit group. Recently a teenager who participated in the children’s groups has joined the group of youth leaders, exemplifying the personal growth and leadership skills that the children are absorbing.
Recent lessons, always taught through interactive games and activities, have been: environmental conservation, civil rights, civic engagement, and more.
Recent purchases, using funds donated through GlobalGiving, have been books with games and activities for children, a television used to show educational programs and for social activities, food and activities for the international “Day of the Child” in recognition of the Rights of the Child.
Ana Andrade Sanchez and Jose Luis Echeverria, translated by Dana Hill
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