The main purpose of our trip was to complete a service project organized by a local nonprofit, Voluntario Global. This organization coordinates volunteer projects all over Buenos Aires in order to serve communities through education, health, and sustainable projects. The goal behind these projects is to serve the poor communities surrounding Buenos Aires and to engage others in this community-building process. Our project took place at the "Jarín Travesuras"--a small kindergarten located in a low-income neighborhood in José León Suarez. The owner of this center, Lorena, built this school for the neighborhood she once lived in as a way to give back to her former home and to serve the young children in need of a daycare and an education. Our service project was going to consist of cleaning up and renovating the playground area in order to provide a safe space and a garden for the children and families to enjoy. This kindergarten had a total of about 40 kids from ages two to six, and they were separated into two rooms, each with only one to two native volunteers. We were all super excited for this opportunity to work hard, practice our spanish, and, of course, play with the children!
After a subway ride to the train station, then an hour and a half train ride, followed by a fifteen minute bus ride, we had finally made it to our project site! We were then introduced to the wonderful native (and daily) volunteers, followed by a few screams and laughs from the kids! Of course they were very curious about their new friends!
This photo was taken as a 'before' image of the space we were planning to turn into a garden! It was hard work pulling out all of the plants, but we pushed through! It turned out that hidden underground was a series of bulbs and thick roots growing from the plants--but that couldn't stop us! We worked together to dig up the plants, clear the area, and prepare a trench for the garden to grow!
Throughout our first day of service, we all enjoyed getting know know the native volunteers who took time out of every day to take care of and to teach the young children. A few of us were also inside helping with the kids. It was so hard to believe that only one teacher could watch fifteen young toddlers, but they made it work! However, they were very grateful for the help we could provide them during our time volunteering!
After a nice lunch prepared by the staff, we finished clearing up the playground space in preparation for our next day's work. It was a long first day but completely worth the labor! Around 3:30 pm we headed back on our journey to the hostel and most of us took the train ride as a good opportunity to nap--but the day wasn't over yet! Once we got back to Milhouse, we quickly washed up and ate dinner because soon it would be time to see an Argentinian drum show!
La Bomba de Tiempo was an incredible drum show that took place in an old warehouse. What made this performance even more incredible was the fact that it was all improvised! The music was amazing, and they even had a few guest singers and guitarists play along with the drummers. Overall, it was an exciting Monday, and we couldn't wait to see what Tuesday had in store for us!
Once we got back to the hostel, we were all pretty exhausted, but Elizabeth and Victoria snapped this picture of their matching scarves in support of the Argentinian fútbol team! We all were starting to feel like true Argentinians!