September at Clara Luna by Paola Martínez

“A month of learning through “The Little Prince.”

Translated by Abril Mendoza.

Ecuador has come out of the exception state. However, we continue to stay at home for our safety and of our families. The streamings are adding up, and we have reached 42 of them, in which we have entered our project “The Little Prince,” we are reading and traveling with this book by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, a must-see for all ages.

September was an enriching month in which national and international guests, interviewees, and friends of the Children’s Literature Network participated as readers of the story. There were also debutant readers. Yes, two girls from our Children’s Club read this story of friendship, motto, encounters, and disagreements with the world of adults, a hard and awkward world to understand.

On our movie night, the movie chosen by a vote of the children of the club was “Charlie, and the Chocolate Factory” adapted from the book by Roald Dalh. The story of Charlie Bucket and his visit to the mysterious chocolate factory of the famous inventor Willy Wonka.

Like every Wednesday, we had virtual language exchanges, with people coming together to practice English and Spanish from different parts of the country and the world. We also received the support of Barbara and Abril from the United States as remote volunteers for English classes.

We say goodbye to this month of learning, remembering through “The Little Prince” that “The essential is invisible to the eyes.”

Thank you for reading. See you in October!

July at Clara Luna by Paola Martinez

Translated by Abril Mendoza

The traffic lights of emotions.

In Ecuador, most cities have not changed the colors of their traffic lights. There are new rules and restrictions on mobility and activities overall we continue at home.

In July, our live broadcasts reached more homes, motivating us a lot. While the time of exceptions continues, we love that books unite us from a distance. We remain in quarantine, and we continue to explore good quality children’s literature through Anthony Browne and his “game of forms.” The stories we read provoked emotions of all kinds. They were tender, and they spoke about friendship, fear, and going through doors that lead to imaginary places. We learned through the “game of forms” stories related to art and artistic works of painters important such as da Vinci, Magritte, Picasso, among others, and we make virtual visits to different museums around the world.

We took some time to get to know the life of Frida Kahlo as an artistic exponent of Latin America. We read “Little Frida” by Anthony Browne, in a special session, with a visit to our virtual club by Martha Garay, director of the collective “Santo Remedio Literatura para niños y niñas,” from Mexico.

We learned about important people who have left their mark on the world’s history; for example, Nelson Mandela and his fight for racial segregation, Malala Yousafzai and her fight for the right of education of girls and women, and Jane Goodall and her effort to protect primates.

On our first movie night, we saw the movie “Le Petit Prince,” a special night to meet and talk through “the proximity of the screen,” realizing how much we miss our face-to-face club and the importance of human contact.

Our traffic light remains red. It is not allowed to socialize. We cannot meet in person. However, despite everything, we have allowed ourselves to get excited through books to continue learning, we sincerely hope that the stories do not stop.

See you soon!

June at Clara luna by Annabel Wiest

Translated by Abril Mendoza

Environment, art, and fun!

June was a busy month. Our famous Willy, from Anthony Browne’s tales, was visiting the Clara Luna’s children, again, through virtual transmissions.

Also, Fathers’ Day allowed us to continue reading a book from our book’s collection of the same author titled “My father,” a tale where the author describes his father through funny illustrations and texts that are as deep as ever.

It was an opportunity to do a puppet show, which we recorded and edited before broadcasting it on our Father’s Day transmission. The show was “Yo mataré monstruos por ti (I will kill monsters for you).” It tells us the story of a young girl that is afraid of the monsters under her bed, and at the same time, it tells us the story of a young monster girl scared of humans! In both cases, the father figure reassures the child before they fall asleep. He does this until the two children meet and become friends because they realized they were sharing the same fear.

Another important day in June at Puerto Lopez is Oceans’ day. It allowed us to evoke nature and its marine animals. We took advantage of the event and did a puppet show that we adapted from Marcus Pfister’s rainbowfish

In Clara Luna, we care a lot about the environment, so the team of Clara Luna asked the children to talk about an endangered animal that they loved and to make a short video about them. The goal was to understand why these animals are in danger and how we can help them. Paolo, a volunteer at Clara Luna, took the step and talked about the hippocampus. To keep a fun aspect for the kids, we added to his video a clip of behind the scenes where he makes mistakes, does a horrible job explaining, makes jokes, and demands his prize. Some children happily participated; we played their video during the live. Besides all these activities, we must talk about all the background work dedicated to the “Festiartes.” It’s a festival in Puerto Lopez, which takes place every year since 2018; it brings together international and local artists: musicians, magicians, singers, street artists, drawers, photographers, and so on. The festival was virtual this year. The Festiartes’s team made it to all the meetings, thanks to the Zoom Platform. It was necessary to collect the works of the artists, classify them, ask the artists to make a ‘trailer’ to announce their participation at the festival. It was necessary to manage all the communication and publicity of the festival. We conducted radio and TV interviews with local channels. Some artists were going to realize an interview during the live show via our “BeLive” platform, so we had to bring the artists together virtually to organize test sessions. Some of them were going to organize a virtual workshop. So we had to manage all the inscriptions. The job was very tiring, and the virtual method was new for everyone, especially for the organization of a festival. Yet the result was amazing even though it was only two days of live sessions, and different workshops online. One live was dedicated to children, and the second one was for adult viewers. We had a great audience, goodies to give, a lot of fun, and great artistic works.

We invite you to visit the Festiartes Facebook page to see the live shows!

May at Clara Luna by Annabel Wiest

Translated by Abril Mendoza

Let’s have a look at what happened in May at Clara Luna, the month that marks a custom that we have now in our work, and where different projects are born. Our “live” shows on Facebook are popular, and they are becoming professional. We discovered some new features on the platform such as uploading videos, playing music, sharing the screen, uploading a YouTube link, and transmitting the live video. It makes our work more comprehensive and fuller. For example, during the live, we broadcasted videos of former volunteers sending their best wishes to the children. Unfortunately, we depend on the internet and technology. Sometimes due to the very slow and weak internet connection, the transmission is interrupted. We had to cancel a transmission and postpone it for the next day because the network had difficulties. Yet the children are always so motivated and punctual! We found a great dynamic between Paola, Paolo, her son, and myself. It is as if we were not in quarantine: every Monday, we have a meeting that begins a week that is full of stories and emotions.

What is happening during this quarantine? Officially, we have not been in quarantine for the beginning of May. The Ecuadorian President Lenin Moreno has set up a red, yellow, and green traffic light system. Each color corresponds to a list of restrictions similar to those in quarantine. In Puerto López, the mayor Javier Pincay announced a red light for all of May. The curfew is still mandatory from 2 P.M. to 5 A.M. and, even though the restrictions are not so strict now, we should try to stay home. The restaurants are still closed, many started a delivery service, and that delighted me because I missed the “encebollado” (the typical Ecuadorian fish and onion soup). We patiently wait until good news arrives, and it seems the health situation has certainly calmed down. We nevertheless remain very vigilant. For example, before entering the market, we must always go through the disinfection tunnel and check our temperature.

We are gradually starting to see a little light in the approaching future. The government seems to be implementing educational innovations in the circumstances of the health crisis. The school is going to be organized remotely, with courses on the internet and television. Like in other countries, some schools are gradually reopening their doors with a restriction on the number of students present. We are thinking of organizing ourselves to provide academic support to Clara Luna’s children. The current idea is to have a small group of fewer than ten children and to follow the school program. Some of them do not always have internet or television access. For many parents, it is difficult to imagine sending their child to school during the ongoing world health crisis. We are currently investigating the different situations of families to be able to plan new activities. Clara Luna evolves and adapts in all situations! We will momentarily continue our kid’s club online!

Clara Luna usually participates in the “Festiartes,” it’s a festival in Puerto Lopez which takes place every May. Unfortunately, the event has been canceled for this year. Nonetheless, we are going to organize it on a live show on Facebook for two consecutive mornings. This event will take place at the end of June, and you will soon be informed of this year’s special festival.

See you soon.

April at Clara Luna by Paola Martínez

Translated by Abril Mendoza

Meanwhile, in times of a world pandemic.

In Clara Luna, there are four people in quarantine since March 16 for, about, 5 weeks we had dark days with sunshine. We were paralyzed and enclosed by the circumstances; we had weeks of uncertainty due to everything that was and is happening, with the nostalgia of having the house empty, honestly boring.

In the first two weeks of April, we concentrated on helping the children managed the quarantine, we worked on providing books at home, and we created a catalog of 50 narrative books from our library stock. The children selected a book from their houses, and we went out to make the corresponding deliveries so that the children could be distracted reading until “the panorama improves.” Furthermore, the children began to share videos of their readings with us.

On April 18, we surveyed parents to understand their situation during the health emergency, being able to identify their needs and a different way of carrying out activities with children. Consequently, we started a new way of working: the “Virtual Kids Club.” Through the social network Facebook, the most popular in our community, the children of the club could connect through the Facebook accounts of their parents. In April, we made three broadcasts, and we had the pleasant surprise of knowing that the children missed their Clara Luna routines, and we also missed them. The longing for shared moments invaded us.

The first virtual session was a debut, with the theme of “Earth Day,” for almost thirty minutes we were on the air. Time in which we read Oliver Jeffers through “Here we are” and his notes to live on the planet earth, a children’s audience that sent greetings, and messages on how to protect planet earth. A resounding success!

The second transmission we celebrated “Book Day,” the main activity was to read “A child of books” by Oliver Jeffers, and we presented the puppet play “The Incredible Book Eating Boy” by the same author. We made some recommendations on what children can do at home, and how to stop the spread of the virus through hand washing, social distancing. We explain the differences between isolation, quarantine, and estrangement.

The theme of the third transmission was “Ceibo Day,” a celebration of the icon tree in the province of Manabi, we read “Stuck” by Oliver Jeffers, the story of Floyd, a boy who tries to solve a problem by throwing things at him. We also share some ideas of friendly actions with planet earth that we can do at home.

Another activity that we had the opportunity to coordinate was the delivery of food kits for 40 families in the canton, a second-level subdivision of Ecuador. It was carried out thanks to friends and volunteers from Clara Luna Their donations, allowed us to reach families who are facing hard times as a result of the pandemic.

April surprised us! For Annabel, Paolo, and me, volunteers of the “quarantine team.” The situation has been a transformative experience, which has not only allowed us to see the positive side in times of adversity, but also to find a way to reinvent ourselves, creating another way to continue connecting with our community. We will continue to tell you more!

March in Clara Luna by Annabel Wiest

March in Clara Luna: a strange ordeal.

The month of March at Clara Luna began with something new: a large group of volunteers traveled from Quebec to lend us a hand. They arrived with the goal to improve upon their Spanish and themselves, and went to live with families in Puerto Lopez for a total change of life: new family, new culture. We organized an afternoon celebration to welcome them, complete with a presentation of the Clara Luna group and a puppet show put on by the children of the library group. With new volunteers, the idea was to do more activities, more meetings and more outings. It was a huge change!

            The Quebequois began their work by helping us reorganize our stock of equipment for manual activities and sports with children. They offered us new equipment, such as colored pencils. It was part of the big clean-up!

            Our weekly meetings became much busier and took more time because we had to organize weeks with a lot of new volunteers. “Cuentos en la Plaza” is usually organized once every two weeks. We take our books to the streets, the children read, we read a story aloud, we do manual activities and sometimes a puppet show. With the Quebec volunteers, we organize this event twice a week! So we form teams to have an adequate number of volunteers for the Clubcito, the children’s club and the library group. We had to find the right rhythm and the right organization, but in the end, everything went well. The Quebequois seemed happy to be with the children and very motivated to participate in the activities as they helped with the preparation of the clubs. Their help has been invaluable to us.

            During the month of March, we prepared the Clara Luna Olympic Games, an event that takes place at the end of the month. Each children’s club had a theme related to a sport, and we were in the habit of talking about the continents and countries. Each volunteer presented a sportswoman from his or her country. The story of Anthony Browne’s “Willy the Wizard” immersed us in the atmosphere of football in England … The books “Hippo doesn’t swim” for the Clubcito and “Malena the Whale” invited us to swim and gain confidence. Our routine was very sporty, at all levels. For the activities, we stayed on the theme of sports with, for example, making a football field made of paper with a ball that moves thanks to a straw. And with the theme of confidence, we prepared a dance related to self-esteem for the Olympics. So we used the song “Soy Yo” by Bomba Estereo, and the kids who were motivated to, came to practice twice a week.

            The beginning of the month was full of emotions, dances and events. Unfortunately, the global pandemic reached Puerto Lopez and forced us to cancel the Olympic Games and close Clara Luna’s doors. The volunteers from Quebec were the first to leave Puerto Lopez for their country. Maddie, our Peace Corps volunteer, was repatriated to the United States, as was Franka, our German volunteer. What a shame they didn’t have the time or opportunity to say goodbye to the children… Annabel, the French volunteer doing her civic service, was able to choose to stay at Clara Luna, in the hope of being able to return to work for the association “as soon as possible”. The quarantine was declared on March 17th and all public places were immediately closed.

            Clara Luna, like many others, was very disappointed with this devastating news. But we all keep in touch with the volunteers and look for solutions so that we can continue our activities. It was very difficult to have to cancel our events, close our doors and separate ourselves from our dear volunteers, but we do not lose hope or motivation. See you soon for future adventures!

February at Clara Luna by Paola Martínez

February: Women in Science

Translated by Maddie Fox

For the month of February, Clara Luna’s group of volunteers was made up of Franka from Germany, Annabel from France, Maddie from the United States, and Paolo from Ecuador. As this month was dedicated to women in science, we read stories about curious, bright women and girls who sought to understand the “why” and the “how” of different phenomena. These important questions require time and dedication, and women who seek their answers are examples of determination and audacity for those who dream big. To illustrate these qualities, we used the books “Good Night Stories for Rebellious Girls 1 & 2” by Elena Favilli and Francesca Caballa, and “Girls are of Science” by Irene Civico and Sergio Parra Castillo.

Four women who made important contributions to physics, chemistry, and other sciences, passed through the spotlight of the Children’s Club. They included Marie Curie, a pioneer in the field of radioactivity and the first person to receive two Nobel Prizes in different specialties: physics and chemistry; primatologist Jane Goodall, who has dedicated her life to studying the behavior of chimpanzees in Africa, as well as to educating and promoting more sustainable lifestyles around the planet; Vera Rubin, the astronomer who saw what no one else saw: dark matter; and May-Brit Moser, the psychologist and neuroscientist who won a Nobel Prize for her discoveries of cells that form a positioning system, our own GPS, in the brain.

The children were very enthusiastic and engaged with the themes like dark matter, humans’ internal GPS to direct us through places, Goodall’s chimps, and Curie’s radioactivity. We wrapped up the month’s theme with a vote for “Clara Luna’s Woman of Science 2020”, and the winner was Jane Goodall with a strong lead over the others.

In pursuit of the ideal hairstyle in Clubcito, we experimented with many different hairdos by reading “What’s Wrong With My Hair?” by Satoshi Kitamura. The little ones had fun reading about emotions in “Monstor of Colors” by Ana Lleras and learned about friendship and sharing with Marcus Pfister’s “The Rainbow Fish”.

With our Club Lobitos, for disabled youth, we whipped up delicious treats in the kitchen, like crepes and banana cake. We also enjoyed the sun and sea, and went surfing with volunteers from Ayampe.

At our “Once Upon a Time” event, the Sharks Club, our club for teens, put on a puppet show about computer science, based off a story from the book “Goodnight Stories for Rebellious Girls”.

Likewise, the Sharks Club continued to prepare and organize Clara Luna’s public library. They worked diligently, with lots of enthusiasm to complete our project and open to the public so that we can share with the community the treasures that exist amongst these books.

February was a month full of ingenuity, leaving us with a learning experience on how lovely it is to share with others what we have, as well as what we know.

January at Clara Luna by Franka Sketta

We started the New Year with a lot of energy!

In January the team of Clara Luna consisted of the three volunteers Annabel from France, Maddie from the United States and Franka from Germany. We also had a lot of help from Paolo, the son of Paola.

Throughout the month the kids from “Club de niños” read many books from Dr. Seuss. They loved listening to the rhymes and completed them by themselves. The stories “Huevos Verdes con Jamón”, “Yoruga la Tortuga”, “Gertrudis Paz”, “El Gran Fanfarrón”, “Loráx” and others made us laugh and also learn how to be happy with ourselves.

We’re very excited to start again with the “Club de lobitos” in which we work with people with disabilities. Together, we all went to the beach of Puerto López, surfing and just enjoying the waves. It was a lot of fun!

A novelty is our “Clubcito” for the little ones with ages 3-5. It’s so great to see that even they are so enthusiastic about reading or listening to a volunteer reading. They experienced how “The Very Hungry Caterpillar” transformed into a beautiful butterfly which they later painted. By reading and painting “Elmer” the kids discovered diversity and friendship.

This month we went twice to San Jacinto, a district of Puerto López for our event “Cuentos en la plaza”. We brought the library to the kids of this district and also performed the muppet show “La princesa vestida con una bolsa de papel” again. It was amazing to see how fascinated the children were by watching the smart princess tricking the dangerous dragon. The second time we went there, we focused on the stories of Anthony Brown. Finally everyone drew his main character, the kind gorilla Willy.

As you can see, January was an exciting month for our Foundation and we are looking forward to all the adventures February will bring to Clara Luna.

December at Clara Luna by Paola Martínez

Time flies when you’re having fun!

I would like to share a brief summary of what we have accomplished in 2019, remembering that what we’ve done in the past allows us to envision what we want to do in the future. Goodbye 2019, hello 2020!

In numbers, our Children’s Club program held approximately 100 sessions in which the children grew familiar with reading and learned to love the adventures that books can bring. Our teaching English program held approximately 400 hours of English lessons for children, teenagers, and adults. We also had 50 sessions of language exchange, which is always a lot of fun!

In the first quarter, together with a group of volunteers from Solidarite Sud, Quebec, Canada, and the Saint Jesaja church in Wiesbaden, Germany, we opened two important spaces for our children: the English classroom and the first stage of the reading corner where children finally have spaces more conducive to learning and enjoying reading.

In the second quarter, we were very busy with lots of workshops and camps, starting with Rainbow Days, a program to strengthen self-esteem. We also held a club focused on gender which culminated in an intensive three day camp called “GLOW-BRO”, or Girls Leading Our World and Boys Respecting Others. Also, with our event “FestiArtes 2019, conexión Pachamama”, the kids and the community had the opportunity to participate in workshops, plays, and other cultural activities.

In the third phase of 2019 our family grew, registering 28 new kids along with their parents for the third annual “Escuela para padres” or “Parent’s School”. From July through September, the mothers (and hopefully soon we will have more fathers attending!) participated in workshops covering themes such as positive discipline, the rights of the child, types of abuse, good communication, values, self-care, and other topics that provide tools to help parents in the upbringing of their children.

In the final quarter of the year, Clara Luna’s group of teenagers started a project called “Biblioteca comunitaria”, or “Community Library”. This youth group, sensitized to the importance of promoting reading for understanding human, social, and cultural situations both in and outside the community, initiated the process of implementing the community library, which will open its doors in 2020.

We brought 2019 to a close with our Christmas celebration, in which 32 families and 60 kids accompanied us to end the year with a motivation to maintain the commitment to the Clara Luna community. And volunteers? We had approximately 30 welcomes and goodbyes to important allies, who contributed their time and knowledge to help Clara Luna continue to grow. Donations? To our friends and sponsors, our family that even at a distance stays connected to our cause and has supported us in our years of growth and learning: Thank you for your unconditional support! Without you, none of this would be possible.

Here’s to a truly successful year!

And what is to come in 2020?

So much that we can’t stop, won’t stop! Our kids will participate in projects like “Escuela de las Buenas Acciones” (School of Good Actions), followed by the opening of our community library in March.

Among the benefits of learning a new language is stimulation of the memory and improvement of attention. For these reasons we are preparing for the addition of more English classes, for the newly registered children at Clara Luna.

Our pilot plan, “Clubcito, reading with the little ones” challenges us to create special moments and fun read-alouds for the little ones in the house, who will enter the world of reading as early as possible. The clubcito was the most requested in 2019, now it’s starting!

2020 arrived with sunshine, a great time to go to the sea and enjoy the Surf Club. With our “ Club Lobitos”, who love surfing and water, we will reclaim our space for activities with the group of people with disabilities. We are missing them dearly!

Of course, “FestiArtes 2020, Diversity edition”, in collaboration with the collective “Alégrate Puerto López”, is bringing more cultural activities to Puerto López. Continuing to plant the seeds that our children will one day harvest, we do not stop until we know that our little ones have grown up in a motivating environment that makes them curious about learning.

Certainly, the fourth GLOW-BRO Gender Club and Camp, the fourth school for parents, the third edition of the Rainbow Days program and many more family reading events like “Érase una vez” and “Cuentos en la Plaza” will continue as it should in the rural areas of the province. This year, as allies of the School of Good Actions, and in line with the UN’s sustainable development goals, we are preparing the program “Mobile Libraries” as an educational tool for training for gender equality.

We will continue to go out to the park, to the sidewalk, to wherever the children are, bringing plenty of books!

In 2020, we want reading to be endless!

October at Clara Luna by Margo Vanoverbeke

The month of October was an exciting month for the Clara Luna Foundation. Not only did our team consist of no less than five volunteers, we also had a lot of exciting activities to prepare and perform. This month our team consisted of Maddie, Annabel and Margo previously mentioned in the blog of September and we had the pleasure of having Matteo and Sarah from Switzerland helping us out for three weeks too. 

During the first weekend of October, we made a trip with the organisation to Canoa, San Vicente and Tabuchila respectively, were we performed ‘La Peor Señora del Mundo’, a muppet show starring the worst female on earth and her surroundings. This may not sound so fun, but it sure was. The children were all very excited to see how ‘La Peor Señora del Mundo’ is being tricked into being nice to everyone around her. The voice of this despicable woman was executed wonderfully by Annabel, who nailed the evil laugh and smoker’s cough and in this way added an extra value to the muppet show. I must add that pigeon’s ‘roo roo’, executed by myself, Margo, was also pretty spot-on. After the muppet show we would read a story together with the children of the different communities and perform an activity in relation to the story. 

 However, in the hometown of Clara Luna, Puerto López, our main focus of this month was on scary stories, more specifically old ecuadorian legends. Since the month of October is known for Halloween, which is followed by Día de los Muertos, we mainly worked around different ecuadorian legends such as ‘La Mano Negra’, ‘La Dama Tapada’, ‘Las Brujas Blancas’ and many more. With Halloween and Día de los Muertos in mind, we organised an event on the 25th of October, during our weekly Club de Niños. On this day three pairs of children read the ecuadorian legends for the other parents and children. Another group of children performed a muppet show called ‘Davilara, el Rey de la Bomba’, based on the (recently) award-winning book ‘A ritmo endiablado de bomba’ written by Marco Chamorro and Alice Bossut. Thanks to the help of the parents, the volunteers and Paola’s organisational skills the event turned out very successful. The children were all dressed up in their favourite Halloween costume and the parents had prepared some delicious hot chocolate milk and rosquitas, which is a traditional treat during similar Clara Luna events.   

Overall, October was an exciting, scary and educative month full of great moments between the children and the volunteers and Paola at the Clara Luna Foundation. I am already excited to read about what the month of November will bring for us.