One of the most important parts of the VE volunteer experience is the orientation week. It gives ‘newbies’ a chance to learn more about the work they will be doing, settle into life in Santiago and have fun getting to know not just the other people in their class, but the whole VE team.
Our may class of new volunteers has just arrived so they spent the last week learning all about VE Global and the mission, vision and values that drive our work. This includes trainings from local professionals on the child protection system in Chile, learning about Chile’s recent history with trips to historical sites such as Parque por la Paz, as well as getting tips on chilenismos, local food and social customs which will help them make the most of their time in the city.
Of course, the most important part of orientation is learning about the work they will carry out as a volunteer, how to successfully create and run workshops, provide the most help and support to the institutions and build strong relationships with the children we serve. Good luck to the new volunteers as they settle into their first week of work!
We believe the work we do is important, fostering the development of children at-risk through volunteers that mentor and educate them. We also believe the volunteers who do it need time for reflection. VE volunteers do everything from teach reading to wipe runny noses, and while much of what we do is fun, it is also hard and emotional work.
That's why, every VE class of volunteers goes to "Jornada." A volunteer retreat, a weekend away from the loud noises of the city, a chance to take deep breaths and give volunteers a time to reflect on their experiences. It's here we gain insight from our fellow volunteers and learn new techniques for helping the children we serve. On Sunday, we leave, riding the bus back into Santiago with renewed energies to work with the kids and show them that they truly deserve love.
VE volunteers prepare and run a huge variety of workshops for the children we serve. These can teach life skills such as cooking, improve creativity through art and performance and boost educational attainment with anything from reading to math activities.
A recent example of a successful workshop was one carried out at an all-boys children’s home we work with. This particular institution has a lot of problems with violence and low literacy. We started our workshop with cooking, an activity the boys are always enthusiastic to participate in. We made “dirt cups” which are a sweet treat using milk, jello, chocolate cookies and gummy worms. We gathered all the boys together in a circle, and before they could eat their creations, we read the story of ‘The Hungry Caterpillar’ with them. One of the volunteers started reading it, making sure to hold the book up so all the boys could see the pictures and get involved. Some of the boys helped reading aloud certain sections. At the end of the story we asked questions about the book of varying difficulty to suit the age range of 3 to 11, handing out puddings as each boy answered correctly.
This activity was a reminder of how effective our workshops can be to get children excited about reading, listening to each other and working as a team.
This summer we are excited to start our ¡Vamos a Leer! program throughout our eight institutions. The program aims to motivate children to read more over the slow summer months and help inspire them through the stories they hear. This year we were awarded a grant from the Chilean government to help us provide even more books that the volunteers can take in to read with the younger children and to encourage the older children to read independently.
Some of the children in our program already enjoy reading but have limited resources to help further their interest, but there are also quite a few children who would never think of reading as a way to spend their free time. Through !Vamos a Leer!, we hope to change this because we know the importance of reading in terms of expanding vocabulary, increasing their reading ability and improving their overall academic performance. Our program lets children choose their own books and sets age/skill appropriate goals for finishing them. At the end of the Chilean summer, we plan to celebrate the close of the program with Carnaval, a fun outdoor event for all the children who reached their reading goals.
On November the 19th we had our last Liga of the year. A fun day filled with sports, games and silly races aimed at getting the kids more active! The children loved getting involved and trying new things such as sack races, wheelbarrow races and egg and spoon races, using ping-pong balls to avoid any egg-smashing incidents! They also appreciated the opportunity to use proper sports equipment and full-size basketball courts and soccer pitches.
After the games the children tucked into a healthy snack and had a go at a dance class, tennis and the various games such as chess and twister laid out for them. We also do fun trivia questions, this time about the sun and how to protect your skin, with all the kids winning goodie bags to take home with them!
Project Reports on GlobalGiving are posted directly to globalgiving.org by Project Leaders as they are completed, generally every 3-4 months. To protect the integrity of these documents, GlobalGiving does not alter them; therefore you may find some language or formatting issues.
If you donate to this project or have donated to this project, you will get an e-mail when this project posts a report. You can also subscribe for reports via e-mail without donating or by subscribing to this project's RSS feed.