March at Clara Luna by Jordan Davies

11081778_10153246046819515_1178315118_nMarch 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!11130054_10153246017019515_1236192095_n

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!

11072853_10153246017859515_341311614_nEveryone 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!11088242_10153246017404515_1953480907_n

February at Clara Luna by Stephanie Littman

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. DSC_0709

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!  DSC_0596

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!
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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…..

January at Clara Luna by Mary Moore

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).

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DSC01584We 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 videogIMG_2072raphers 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/)

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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.
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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!

Volunteer Experience: Lucy

Name: Lucy Rogerson
Nationality: GermanIMG_8254
Age: 24

How did you find out about Clara Luna?  

workaway.com

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)
8 weeks

How long did you end up staying with us at Clara Luna?
7 weeks

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

Volunteer Experience: Manuela

Name: Manuela
Nationality: French
Age: 2410983063_10205926380017408_1532364910_o

How did you find out about Clara Luna?  
workaway.com

What attracted you to working with Clara Luna?

– The diversity of the possible activities to wok as a volunteer.
– The flexibility
– The location
– The price

What do you think your best skills are for being a volunteer?

Adaptability and optimism

What is your current volunteer role with Clara Luna, briefly describe your typical day.

I was visiting the home of a 7 year old boy to help with physiotherapy and a teenage girl for support with homework and help with physiotherapy. With the girl, I ended up being more of a social support.
I tutored kids in the community
Helped with Club de Niños
Went to The Foundación to work with people with disabilities

How long have you been volunteering with us? (eg. 3 weeks out of 6)

13 weeks

Describe in 3 words what makes a good volunteer

Open-minded, Motivated, Flexible

Did you speak Spanish prior to volunteering with Clara Luna?
Yes, as I have Spanish nationality

If Yes: Do you think it is important? If no:  Did you find it difficult?
I think it helps a lot to share deeper things with locals. But actually, smiles, sounds and open-mindedness are probably enough.

Has your Spanish improved since volunteering with Clara Luna?

My Spanish didn’t exactly ‘improve’ but the ability to adapt to latin expressions and ways of speaking (no more “z” sound!)

Describe in 3 words your experience here at Clara Luna

Meeting new people Freedom Responsibility

Volunteer Experience: Carolina

Name: Carolina
Nationality: FrenchOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
Age: 31

How did you find out about Clara Luna?  
workaway.com

What attracted you to working with Clara Luna?

La fundación: personas con discapacidades

What do you think your best skills are for being a volunteer?

Sonrisa, sociable, comunicar con los demás

What is your current volunteer role with Clara Luna, briefly describe your typical day.

todos los dias no son equal!

How long have you been volunteering with us? (eg. 3 weeks out of 6)

3 meses

Have you volunteered before?
No

Describe in 3 words what makes a good volunteer

Ambiente con otros voluntarios
Vivir en una comunidad
Encontrar a gente del pueblo en el trabajo

What difference do you feel you have made so far?

Work to help the city and people
Saber vivir en comunidad (limpiar sue cosas, compartir, etc)
Dar ideas de trabajo
En la fundación: adaptar las actividades a la posibilidades de la personas con discapacidades.

Did you speak Spanish prior to volunteering with Clara Luna? Si

If Yes: Do you think it is important? If no:  Did you find it difficult?

Es major saber hablar espanol para si no hablas espanol esta muy bien a dar class de ingles o estar en Club de Ninos para aprendar y practicar español

Describe in 3 words your experience here at Clara Luna

 

Volunteer Experience: Claudia and Chris

IMG_7548Name: Claudia / Christian
Nationality: German
Age: 29

How did you find out about Clara Luna?  
workaway.com

What attracted you to working with Clara Luna?

A lot of different projects with children

What do you think your best skills are for being a volunteer?

Responsibility, creativity, experience with children and knowledge about social games

What is your current volunteer role with Clara Luna, briefly describe your typical day.

-teaching english (2 classes, twice a week)
– exercises with Ulessis (three times a week)
– help with Club de Ninos (twice a week
– turtle patrols (twice a week in the morning)

How long have you been volunteering with us? (eg. 3 weeks out of 6)

4 weeks

Have you volunteered before?
Where? A horse ranch in Costa Rica
How long? 2.5 weeks
What did you do? taking care of the horses, preparing them for tourists and riding
the horses that require more socialization
What did you like about that program to encourage you to volunteer again?

the variety of work and the amazing kids!
How does Clara Luna differ to the last volunteering program?

Clara Luna was much more work, but didn’t FEEL like work.
Clara Luna provided more contact with the locals in the community

Describe in 3 words what makes a good volunteer

flexibility, creativity, responsibility

What difference do you feel you have made so far?

I learned a lot about Ecuadorian culture, the language and how everything works here. We tried to give our input regarding the structural context and educational objectives of club de Ninos but the time was too short.

Did you speak Spanish prior to volunteering with Clara Luna? No, not really

Has your Spanish improved since volunteering with Clara Luna?

Yes, of course

Describe in 3 words your experience here at Clara Luna

Insightful, diverse, lovely

Volunteer Experience: Phil

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAName: Phil
Nationality: British
Age: 57

How did you find out about Clara Luna?  
Volunteer Latin America website

What attracted you to working with Clara Luna?

Paola!

What do you think your best skills are for being a volunteer?

Patience, willingness to take anything on

What is your current volunteer role with Clara Luna, briefly describe your typical day.

Physio with Ulises 3 times a week. Teaching English to various student 2 days a week, some Saturday mornings

How long have you been volunteering with us? (eg. 3 weeks out of 6)

9 weeks/9 weeks (We leave tomorrow)

Describe in 3 words what makes a good volunteer

Enthusiasm, goodwill, flexibility

What difference do you feel you have made so far?

Giving confidence to a few young people, carrying on physio work with Ulises, hopefully starting some young people on the path of learning English

Did you speak Spanish prior to volunteering with Clara Luna? No

Has your Spanish improved since volunteering with Clara Luna?

It could only improve! – immense progress

Describe in 3 words your experience here at Clara Luna

Fun Humbling wonderful

Volunteer Experience: Jane

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAName: Jane D
Nationality: British
Age: 55

How did you find out about Clara Luna?  
Volunteer Latin America website

What attracted you to working with Clara Luna?

The range of opportunities, Skype call with Paola, the location

What do you think your best skills are for being a volunteer?

Teaching experience, language skills, flexibility, willingness to learn

What is your current volunteer role with Clara Luna, briefly describe your typical day.

Teaching english, physio sessions 3 times a week, club de ninos, intercambio- there is no real typical day!

How long have you been volunteering with us? (eg. 3 weeks out of 6)

2 months

Describe in 3 words what makes a good volunteer

flexibility, openness, empathy

What difference do you feel you have made so far?

providing opportunities for students to progress both in confidence (personal development) and language skills

Did you speak Spanish prior to volunteering with Clara Luna? Yes

If Yes: Do you think it is important? If no:  Did you find it difficult?
It helps with non-english speakers, but it’s not essential

Has your Spanish improved since volunteering with Clara Luna?

Yes

Describe in 3 words your experience here at Clara Luna

Unforgettable Life-affirming Fulfilling

December at Clara Luna by Mary Moore

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The month of December was a whirl-wind here in Clara Luna.
December brought the strong sun that many volunteers were waiting for.. just in time for some of them to bid us farewell! Carolina (France), Paige (United States), Manuela (France), Lucy (Germany) all said “Adios” in December, and our poor new volunteer, Gus had to manage to help us pick up all the pieces!
Luckily for Gus (and everyone else), there was no shortage of parties here in Puerto Lopez in December. Manabî started off with “Inmaculada Conception” November 29th- December 8th: an entire carnival popped-up in the street over night complete with bouncy castles, zipper rides, and carnival games. Food vendors filled the air with their delicious smells while vendors of all other varieties filled the night with their offers booming through incredible sound systems. There were plenty of performances on the streets and stages set up for nights of cumbia dancing.IMG_8017 IMG_8120

Club de Niños took a particularly socially conscious turn with activities for the UN Day of Persons with Disabilities on December 3rd. The kids read the stories they had made about accepting and appreciating differences and played games that promoted inclusion. Human Rights Day came right after on December 10th and was marked by Clara Luna’s first ever Club de Niños youtube video (check it out!).
Then began the The Club de Niños Christmas preparation. The kids went straight to work making decorations for the Christmas tree and decking the halls with all kinds of holiday cheer (and even Christmas Carols!) . They made home-made Christmas gifts that were eventually shared amongst the group during our very own Santa Claus appearance!
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As for the Christmas for the Clara Luna volunteers- I don’t think that anyone was quite prepared for the intensity of Christmas preparations here in Puerto Lopez:In place of hunting for Christmas trees, we were re-painting and propping up our ‘ole faithful’ Charley-brown christmas twig.
While our friends were wrestling with crowds of shoppers, we were down and dirty making homemade Christmas gifts with the kids.
Instead of stuffing stockings for our families and friends, we were making a production line to wrap the Club de Niños gifts. in time for he special day 
Our sweet mothers and grandmothers were enthralled in their christmas baking, meanwhile we were preparing popcorn tree-trim and Oreo-pops.

The Clara Luna gift-giving was on Wednesday, December 17th and the kids were over-joyed to receive a quality gift for their hard work and attendance here in our programs. Books, coloured pencils, erasers, colouring books and many other goodies filled the bags of wide-eyed participants. Special props to Steven y Nayeli, who won an extra-special gift for being the Participants with the Best Attendance.
The December 19th Christmas celebration was a huge success in no small part to our volunteer team. Stations were set up with face-painting, balloon animals, bubbles and a photo station. Santa Claus made an appearance, distributed gifts, gave participants a sugar-coated oreo-pop and quickly sent them on their way home (he’s obviously a big hit with the parents…)
Puerto López Bacelona fans mustn’t have been very well behaved this year: Emelec took home the “campéon” title December 21st… but we won’t give that much air time on this blog..
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We said “Merry Christmas and See You Next Year!” to all of our English classes and closed the Clara Luna workshop for a much deserved 2 week Christmas break.
The Clara Luna volunteers had a very sweet (and very international) Christmas dinner on the balcony of the volunteer house before setting off to nurse their hot-glue gun machine burns and recharging their super-hero energies with a stiff regiment of delicious coconut drinks on sunny coastal beaches.

Merry Christmas and a Prosperous 2015!