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!