Written by Callum Gant
In many ways this week has been the most enjoyable so far, although maybe the busiest! The team has visited 3 schools and has taken the drug prevention fair to over 300 children. Growing in confidence and personality after each one, everybody involved feels like we have made some real progress, and hopefully given the young children inspiration to stay on the straight and narrow road in what can seem an impossible task, especially in the neighborhoods and social conditions some have the experience of growing up in. However, looking at all the smiling young faces when we turned up in their schools anyone would think these children have it all! What they lack in material items (for example: exercise books, pens, coloring pencils etc.) they definitely make up for it with their burning enthusiasm and genuine desire to learn.
With another 7 schools still to visit everyone involved with the prevention program is extremely optimistic at how much we can achieve. However, what I find hard to comprehend is firstly why haven´t programs like this been able to be widely implemented by teachers or parents? After all, these beautiful children are the future of Catacamas. Secondly what scares me more is how much these young minds already know about drugs and alcohol. Not many children in the UK at the age of 8/9 could tell you how cocaine is consumed and the effects it has on you. But that is the drastic reality of the problems cities like Catacamas face; personally I feel honored to be given the opportunity to try and help here and I know the feeling is echoed amongst the team.
Listening to some of the pupils´ personal experiences has been insightful and emotional for everyone to hear this week, in some cases we’ve heard about alcoholic parents, family members involved in drug abuse and even cases of domestic violence. As disturbing and shocking it was to hear these stories it just makes you realize these are everyday situations for some children, and it shows how important projects like ours is in teaching young people about the dangers and effects of consuming harmful substances and also the detrimental effect it can have on you as a person, your family and the community you live in.
After a busy week, Friday afternoon’s learning session was a welcome bit of fun for the team. Love was in the air with Valentine’s day soon approaching, the colored paper came out along with the crayons and it was time for everyone to get creative! It was nice to see how close and comfortable everybody has become with each other over the course of the program and this was reflected in the cards we all made for each other, even with limited Spanish/English language skills I feel like there are genuine friendships being made all around me, which will continue long after we leave.