The month of October was very busy at Clara Luna with the month starting with only 2 volunteers, Geni and myself from Australia. Needless to say the fun never ended. In Club de Niños we did crafts of bears, chickens, elephants, sunflowers and frogs. Especially for Halloween and Día de los Muertos we made some beautiful lanky skeletons. In English different ages learnt a variety of topics with the youngest ones learning all about “Our World” and the oldest ones concentrating on the present perfect tense. On the third weekend of October we travelled up north to Bahia, San Vicente and Canoa to do activities with the kids affected by the earthquake. This eye opening experience included visiting a tent city where kids are still living under tarps 6 months after the earthquake. Shortly after this weekend, 3 new volunteers came to join; Tatiana from Belgium, Sara from Germany and Lisa from France. With the extra volunteers, everything ran smoothly, with a new set up coming to Club de Niños where half played games in the backyard while the others did crafts, then swapped. Near the end of the month, we also had our monthly event at Clara Luna where kids are invited to participate with their families. This month we had a soccer tournament (Las Olimpiadas) which was a huge success. We had four teams of children, one of teenagers, and two for parents. Each child received a recycled art medal at the conclusion of the tournament. As a big family we went out for Paella with volunteers from Equilibrio Azul. Likewise we learnt salsa at Victor Hugo with Lisa leading the show and dancing with the instructor. We also had the opportunity to work with The Book Bus, where we visited local schools to read books, run activities and test the literacy levels of kids of different ages.
By Xanthia Dubler
After the earthquake of magnitude 7.8 on 16 th April, something that nobody could imagine happened and from then on we were not, nor will we be the same.
Everyone surely remembers what they were doing that Saturday at 18h58, the day the Earth moved and moved us all. Then we begin to understand the tragedy. The whole country showed its solidarity with the victims of the North, of the provinces of Manabí and Esmeraldas and without exception we all contribute what we can to help people who lost a little, a lot and some who have lost everything!
Clara Luna team not could be indifferent to this drama that in many cases has gone beyond materials losses. With the raising of funds to aid the children who are in distress, we made relaxing leisure activities and recreation for our children in the North.
Our plan started from South to North, it took 6 weeks of work to identify and coordinate sites to carry out our planned activities with children. We began our route with the slogan “We are united by the same” and “Fuerza Ecuador”
During the time of our work in the north, we made a delivery of 1200 kits of paper for coloring and colored pencils in the communities visited. In 6 weekends, a total of 30 volunteers, between 5 and 8 people per week visited 25 different sites between communities, refuges and shelters, in the localities of Manta, Portoviejo, Rocafuerte, Tosagua, San Vicente, Bahía de Caráquez, Canoa, Jama, Pedernales and Cojimíes.
Our weekends became life experiences and a real example of people overcoming difficulties. Ecuador, such a small country, but simultaneously so rich in nature and warmth of humanity. We see it can rise from the rubble, work that is by no means easy but not impossible. We will continue in contact with our dear neighbors, taking the deserving children more activities and rest bite from their difficult time. And as stated in Canoa children when we said: “And Colorín colorado, this bridge has broken”
See you soon!
The month of July for Clara Luna was one of great change and excitement. We celebrated and commiserated the departure of Matheiu, Julie and Ava, our 3 French friends, as well as the always-enthusiastic Will, and the generous soul of Lilly, all of whom shared their own unique character and flavour with Clara Luna over the course of the previous month. But as is always the way at the volunteer house, the departure of one group of great people just makes room for the next, and we welcomed with open arms Romeo and Caroline, a couple of British and Dutch heritage respectively and both settled in fast and comfortable.
The beginning of the month had the Clara Luna household preparing gifts, games, and a party to celebrate the Día del Niño, or Children’s Day, on one wonderfully chaotic Friday afternoon Club de Niños, and our efforts resulted in an afternoon enjoyed by the volunteers just as much, if not more than the children we were preparing for. Musical chairs, musical statues, pass-the-parcel, and banana cake were the order of the day, as well as smiles shared all around.
A few weeks earlier some of the volunteers had a chance encounterwith a local political figure in the process of promoting the Día del Medio Ambiente or Day of the Environment for the region. The excited conversation that followed resulted in all the Clara Luna volunteers being invited to join forces with another local foundation to aid in the planting of several dozen trees native to the Puerto Lopez area in the area surrounding the town bus station. This was an opportunity to socialise and get to know some of the community figures, as well as a chance to help increase awareness of the impact, both good and bad that people can have on their environment in the local community.
Outside “officially sanctioned” Clara Luna activity, a few of the volunteers banded together for a weekend’s celebration in nearby surf-party town, Montañita. The details of said weekend were hazy at best, but suffice to say was and enjoyable and team-building experience for everyone involved. In other good news, the Chikungunya epidemic that took it’s toll onthe majority of volunteers faded away into an inside joke, and a light-hearted warning for all the new arrivals.
At the foundation, home visits continued on their course with significant improvements being made by several patients, but more importantly, the entire community begun its preparation for the town Paralympics to be held in the month of July. The dayis the brainchild of our beautiful and fearless leader, Paola, and is the talk of all the patients and their family’s both in and outside of official ‘treatment time’.
That about sums up the previous 4 weeks at the Clara Luna School, but it would be remiss of me not to mention the birthday of our amazing leader and friend, Paola, which, in true Paola fashion, we celebrated with a night of tapas and sangria on the balcony of the volunteer household. Happy 25th birthday Paola 😉
This month we celebrated the anniversary of Clara Luna, Paola can’t remember which possibly 6 years, with a tapas night, the food was nearly as varied as the month we’ve just had!
The house has been busy with new volunteers, with a particularly French feel, firstly with couple Matthieu and Julie, then Ava and Charles – adding further to my confusion between French and Spanish! Other changes include the arrival of Lilly from the USA, me (Will) from the sunny UK and the departure of veteran volunteer Jordan.
Lessons continue strongly, with our newest student Michael (12) making great progress, already having learnt many verbs, topics and now starting to use these in the future tense! Whilst over at the Centro de Salud, lessons with the doctors continue with hilarity and are great fun, with self proclaimed ‘super chica’ Maria and ever keen Leonardo, who mistakenly said he was ‘shitting in a chair’. The lessons are going from strength to strength, now moving beyond just the present tense and with the occasional drop in of a curious paramedic or nurse.
Over at the foundation the French have brought a great deal of variety of activities, including a trip to the lagoon at Agua Blanc, a beauty day with Julie and cooking with French cook Charles. Not forgetting Ava who commits a great deal of time and energy to all those at the foundation. Meanwhile Brayden continues to see patients everyday, in and around Puerto Lopez, with notable progress being made.
Club de Niños is as ever wonderfully chaotic with up to 40 excitable kids we’ve been kept on our toes! There have been welcome moments of calm instigated by creative art activities lead by Lilly, successfully making masks out of egg boxes, however paper mache was a little less successful and altogether more sticky! The children also made cards, and performed Clara Luna composed song ‘Mi Ma ma Mi Ama’ for mother’s day.
One of the highlights of the month was the visit of the students from America, there trip included the running of activities at a local school, the performance of Little Red Riding Hood puppet show and Maria’s largest ever class! A special note to Maria who continues to troop on with up to 4 hours of lessons a day and whom we all love! The Americans also kindly donated books and art supplies – Thanks!
Life in Clara Luna was a little shaken by the onset of Chikungunya which at one point infected 5 out of the 7 volunteers and lead to group trips to the Centro de Salud but which now has just become a running house joke! In better news, our weekends have been very memorable and varied with activities including private boat trips, Agua Blanca, Montinita, Isla de la Plata and many group dinners, including one for Matthieu’s birthday – Feliz Cumpleanos!
All in all it has been a very successful and rewarding month at Clara Luna, I will miss it greatly but I’m sure all the volunteers and Paola will continue their fantastic work.
This month has seen the arrival of many new volunteers, Lilah and Guy (California) and Dave (England), all English teachers, also welcoming Brayden, a physical therapist from Australia!
Club de Niños has been strangely quiet as the children are on their school holidays.. But still crazy as ever! This month we celebrated Earth day, teaching the kids how to look after their environment. We made sign posts to put on the beach, the main theme being to look after the earth! We worked together with the Machalilla National Park, at the turtle rehabilitation centre, to show the children about the turtles and the work they do in order to help them recover from whatever injuries or illnesses they might have. The volunteers at Clara Luna were lucky enough to watch one of the turtles being set free back into the ocean after a strong and speedy recovery!
With the foundation, we celebrated Autism Awareness Day in which the local community were invited to come and learn more about autism. Some children from Club de Niños came and shared their knowledge, speaking to the community and answering questions. It was a fantastic success with many people joining us, it’s amazing to know that people really do care about the issues that surround them! The foundation now have the help from Brayden, who will be visiting patients homes and seeing others at the foundation in order to improve their way of life, what a brilliant feeling! English classes are still a huge success, with 3 new teachers, the students got the chance to learn in completely different ways, progress is being made and every week you can see the difference! There is not better feeling than being able to see the progress in the students! Spanish classes also excellent as ever, Manolo and Maria working hard to share their knowledge and help many people with their speaking. I’m so thankful to them, I couldn’t speak any Spanish when I arrived, but now I can talk to anyone. It’s especially good when working with the kids!
April has also seen yet ANOTHER engagement!!! Congratulations to Guy and Lilah, there must be something very special about Clara Luna!
March at Clara Luna has been very different.. We said goodbye to so many amazing volunteers, Stephanie and Jared (USA), Sandra (Canada), Anneloes (Holland), Mary (Canada), and Kamila (Poland).. We also said hello AND goodbye to Elisa and Nora, both from Germany who both left to continue their travels! The house has been left extremely quiet, with just one volunteer! Luckily, Adam, who volunteered with us nearly 3 years ago, is now living in Ayampe and so he comes to join in with the Club de Niños fun!! Mary and Santiago were married in March, on the beaches of Puerto Lopez, where friends and family came from different parts of Ecuador, and of course Canada, to celebrate with the newly-weds.. What a beautiful day it was! Just one week later, Jared (our volunteer from the USA) asked Stephanie to marry him, to which of course she said yes!! Who knew the beaches of Puerto Lopez hold so much magic!
Having so many volunteers from all over the world means we can share different experiences, this month at Club de Niños, we had a winter sports day, which included makeshift snowball fights, skiing, ice skating and more, the activities had the children using their imaginations to the max as they tried to picture themselves in climates so very different to Puerto Lopez in summer!
Spanish and English classes are thriving, with students learning more and more everyday, it’s amazing to see such progress and to be a part of it too! Finding fun new games or songs to keep the children interested in learning is a skill that all of our teachers have! Intercambio never fails to make us smile, with local people coming from the town to share their language skills with our volunteers here and vice versa, it makes for a great, relaxing atmosphere and of course very enjoyable!
Everyone at the foundation is continuing with their fantastic work, despite losing physical therapists, Steph and Jared, and intellectual therapist Anneloes! Seeing patients on a regular basis to keep up with progress the foundation is helping so many people to improve their quality of life not just in Puerto Lopez but also in surrounding towns! For the foundation it’s been a very busy end to the month as they prepare for Autism Awareness Day (2nd April), many things to look forward to!
February has been an exciting month with fun new volunteers, Carnaval events, and plenty of learning and playing at Clara Luna. Gabriel from the US joined us to help with Clara Luna as well as Anneloes from Holland to assist with the Foundation. Its great to have so many different personalities and talents working together.
This month at Club de Ninos we had a wonderful talent show which included a hip hop dance, gymanstics performance, “home made band”, and beautiful artwork. Who knew there were so many talented kids here in Puerto Lopez?! We also learned new games such as NINJA SPLASH which quickly became a house favorite and Queso/ Pan which had everyone laughing. This week we had a great “wedding theme” day as we all prepare for our volunteer Mary’s wedding. The kids learned how to make decorations, cakes, serve food, and throw bouqets. It was a blast!
The Foundation held two meetings this month, one in Puerto Lopez and one in Salango, to inform the public about future plans and prepare for the rest of the year. We have started seeing people twice a week at the foundation for physical therapy exercising and will hopefully install more equipment to better serve people in the near future. Home visits from volunteers for physical and intellectual therapy have continued throughout the area and are progressing well!
Our weekly language exchanges are always fun and helpful for people on all levels. Last week we practiced our Spanish or English by making up stories about very random objects we pulled from a paper bag which turned out to be hilarious for all.
English and Spanish classes are continuing and going strong. Students are showing good improvement and enjoying the classes as well as the games that make learning more fun. We have quite a few creative teachers here at Clara Luna.
Until next time…..
2015 year started off very successful here at Clara Luna!
We were sad to say goodbye to Gus and HELLO to Stowe (USA), Flor (Argentina), Freda (Germany), Jordan (England), Sandra (Canada) and Alex (England).
We had no time to catch our breathe once Club de Niños started again- it was trail by fire for the newbies! January led to record numbers of participants and a few moments of scrambling find the space to make the magic happen. As always, we found a way to make it work and everything was fine!
January’s Club de Niños featured some musical numbers, co-operative art pieces, card making for “Grandparent Day”, a “games day” on the beach and even a series of short films!
Two videographers from LOLA were at Club de Niños program the first week back to collect some footage to show a gap-year project that Clara Luna will be taking part in later this year. Karen and Estevan were nothing short of a pleasure to have around and we look forward to working more with LOLA (https://loveoneloveall.org/gap-programs/)
We had two Argentinian friends, Sophie and Sebastian, stay at the house, help with Club de Niños and provide two workshops on quick and easy games we could use in program. The coupe gave the highly successful (and super fun) workshop to other community members that work with youth.
Finally the morning patrols paid off with the end of January leading to some eggs hatching! Our volunteer Jordan was just in time to catch the last of about 50 hatchlings making their way to the ocean and notified our partners, Machalilla National Park and Equilibiroazul to help in locating the nest and helping the last few stragglers in the right direction. What an experience!
Our work in the Foundación day club was put on hold while some restructuring was done within the organization, but the home visits to help with stretching and other physio-exercises was carried on by a few of our volunteers.
Classes in both English and Spanish have been FULL. We had to add an additional Children’s English class to accommodate the 20+ kids between the ages of 6-12 who have made the commitment to attend. Spanish classes have kept Manolo, Genesis and Denisse calling for back up teachers to provide classes. What a great ‘problem’ for our little school to have!
Intercambios have kept everyone coming back for more, with contributions by Paolo, Kamila, Mary and Flor.
Looking forward to another successful month: here we come, February!
Name: Lucy Rogerson
How did you find out about Clara Luna?
What attracted you to working with Clara Luna?
The opportunities that Clara Luna gives to the kids and the volunteers.
What do you think your best skills are for being a volunteer?
Spontaneity, attentiveness, fluent English and team work skills
What is your current volunteer role with Clara Luna, briefly describe your typical day.
English classes on Tuesdays, Thursdays Spanish classes in the first couple of weeks Club de Niños on Wednesdays and Fridays. Helped with physiotherapy exercises with a little girl, Angie. Turtle Patrols
How long have you been volunteering with us? (eg. 3 weeks out of 6)
How long did you end up staying with us at Clara Luna?
Describe in 3 words what makes a good volunteer
Creative Spontaneous Open
Did you speak Spanish prior to volunteering with Clara Luna? un poco
If Yes: Do you think it is important? If no: Did you find it difficult?
It makes it easier to work with the little ones. About a 3/10 on a scale of necessity .
What was your level of Spanish when you began volunteering with us? 2/10
What was your level of Spanish when you left Clara Luna? 4/10
Describe in 3 words your experience here at Clara Luna
Eye-Opening, Fulfilling, Rewarding