One of our brilliant English students
Once again we are heading right into the peak tourist season in Cusco. Not that the children at Picaflor would notice any difference as their lives are probably as far removed from the hustle and bustle and tourist wealth of Cusco as you could get! But in just a few years’ time, the tourism and hospitality industries will provide many of our children with excellent employment opportunities and we are happy that Cusco attracts so many vistors every year.
This is not to say that some of them won’t become lawyers or doctors or successful businessmen and women – remember Picaflor student Maria who last year won a place at Cusco’s school for gifted children? We know that with the right encouragement and support children’s dreams can come true. Which is what Picaflor House is all about. So in this report we've tried to show you how much can change in a year, and what a difference that will make to our wonderful children's futures.
There’s no denying how important English is in today’s world - see comments above about tourism - , which is why we are so pleased at the progress our students are making in our new English programme. As one 11 year-old student said,
“I really like English class. We have lots of fun...I really like how with the new English teacher we are learning how to say things that we can use every day, like, Today is……(date), can I go to the bathroom? and how are you? I think it’s important to study English to improve ourselves. It’s good to practice other languages so that we can be professionals one day and travel more and communicate with people from other places. I’d really like to go to the United States someday.”
Our English Coordinator, Lynn, is just as enthusiastic about classes, as she explains:
“I am happy and proud to report that I have seen great improvements in the attitudes and abilities of the students in regards to their English studies. When I arrived at Picaflor House, I was faced with about 25-30 students who were very shy and nervous about taking classes in English with a native speaker unwilling to translate the entire lesson into Spanish.
Although they’d met our numerous English-speaking volunteers before, they had never had classes conducted purely in English and many of them were concerned. I was often asked in the first month to translate what I was teaching into Spanish. They all seemed a bit scared at that they would not understand the majority of what I was saying. However, I persisted in my belief that total immersion is essential and vital when learning a foreign language.”
We think that perseverance has really paid off, as you can see from these recent test results which highlight the progress made by a some of the students who took English tests back in June 2016 and again in early 2017.
- In Group 3, our oldest students, one boy jumped from 5/20 to 17/20. Another girl in the same group increased from 15/20 to 19/20.
- In Group 2, one boy improved from 2/20 to 11/20. Another girl’s scores went up from 6/20 to 20/20! One student who recently transferred from Group 1 to Group 2, tested 11/20 last June while in Group 1 and then tested 16/20 after moving to Group 2.
- In Group 1, one little girl’s scores spiked from 6/20 to 20/20. And a boy in her class increased his score from 3/20 to 17/20.
“As well as these results, the children are so much more confident in their abilities and much more focused in classes. They attempt to use English to communicate with me, the volunteers and each other. They genuinely enjoy themselves in class because they feel the sense of accomplishment of having done something difficult.”
Food, glorious Food.
We are also happy to report that feedback on Picaflor’s healthy lunch programme, funded by one of our very generous former volunteers, continues to be really positive. What’s more, now that the children from the most needy families no longer have to rush home for lunch between government school and going to Picaflor House, late arrivals are virtually a thing of the past and attendance numbers have remained at record levels with around 80 children coming to Picaflor every day.
Choi, sponsor of the lunch programme recently paid a visit to Picaflor House. She told us why she wanted to set up the lunch programme and reported back on the positive changes she had seen since her last visit in 2016:
“In 2015 I was conversing with some students one day before classes and had an argument with a student who said he was eight years old but I was convinced he was five, because of his height. A teacher later confirmed that the boy was correct and when I asked why he looked too little for his age, I was told that many students don´t eat lunch every day or if they do, it is merely a potato or some corn. I also learned that many children were being left for several days to a week at a time while their parents go to work somewhere else and they are left to their own devices.
It was in this moment that I decided that something had to be done to fix this situation and ensure that the children were receiving at least one complete meal a day.
I am thrilled to see the changes in Picaflor, many of which are the effects of the lunch programme. I believe that this has allowed Picaflor to accomplish its other objectives, such as providing children a safe environment to play, learn and do their homework as well as providing a nutritious meal for the children.
The attendance has increased a great deal as well. Whereas in past years the teachers would go around the town, asking parents to send their children to Picaflor, now it is the complete opposite. Especially during the registration period, but for weeks afterwards too, parents have been knocking on Picaflor´s door to sign up their sons and daughters."
These are just two examples of how Picaflor House is changing the lives of severely disadvantaged children. And all the while our Spanish, maths, history, geography and art classes - continue to help shape their future. All of this is made possible by kind donors like you. Your donations are not the icing on the cake, they are at the very heart of all our work which simply would not be posisble without you. Thank you from all of us at Picaflor House for your continued support.
Before you go...
You may recall last year's find rasing camaign for Picaflor House, where donors were entered into a free draw to win a trip to Peru or Cambodia. Well, we're delighted to say that we will be launching this year's big fund raising camapaign very soon so watch this space and your support could win you an amazing trip...
Playing an English Language "Treasure Hunt"
Healthy Lunches help the children to grow!
Last year's prize draw winners visiting Cambodia