May 24, 2011

playing with preschoolers

Our most recent service trip took us to the rural village of Quebrada Verde, about a 70-minute drive south from Lima. There we spent a day and a half at Santa Rosa de Lima Montessori School, where we got a chance to meet the young students and help with many projects, including moving the library to a new location, preparing worksheets, cleaning up around the school, assembling a model skeleton, and performing a puppet show.

According to Sister Francis Clare DeGracia, the founder of the school, more than 90 percent of homes in this area lack bathrooms and running water, and most are constructed out of reed mats or adobe with dirt floors. The average family income is about $100 a month, and 70 percent of people live below the poverty line. While existing housing units are substandard, the area also lacks sufficient housing options. Recently a new settlement of tiny reed-mat houses sprung up nearby, but it sits on government land and its existence is being challenged. Several of Santa Rosa’s students live there.

The school offers hope to the youngest local residents and their families, and while the cost of tuition, materials, and a daily snack is $25 per month, students are not denied enrollment because of inability to pay. (More information about the school, including its goals of hiring more teachers to serve more students, can be found here.)

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