Finally having the free time I yearned for throughout my five years in college (the only thing better than being a Senior once is being a Senior twice), I have had some moments to reflect and reminisce on how my life brought me to where I am today. Part of that reflection is on my childhood. My childhood was awesome (thanks Mom and Dad) and lucky for me, being a foreigner is a bit like being a child–you say funny things, have simple things explained in great detail to you (yes, Karen, I know what an oven is…), and get super excited about things like ice cream (or maybe that’s just me). One thing I noticed from all the traveling I’ve done is that kids, in whatever country, are pretty much the same. Teaching English and playing games at the Centro de Bienestar Infantil (childhood well-being center or CBI) a couple times a week has reinforced my belief in this.
A Bit About the CBI:
The CBI operates as both a daycare and a preschool for 30 children and families of Arcatao. It did not start this way, though. After the war, a few women got together and created a space working women could bring their children to. In 1995–just three years after the official end of the country’s civil war–the institute began to receive some funding from the state to improve the structure. In 2001, my friend Sonia started working there. They began to incorporate a curriculum to match the local school. She said teachers in the school constantly give them feedback and say they note the difference in children who went to the CBI (in the way of social skills, participation, etc.).
A Chat With Sonia:
I asked Sonia how funding works now.
Her answer: Parents pay two dollars a month to help cover the cost of food (the kids get breakfast, milk, and lunch each day).
“But what about you guys?” I asked, referring to her and her two coworkers. She smiled and explained that a woman on the Junta Directiva (city council) was a mother of a CBI child. She advocated that the JD give a small stipend to the women who work full time there. They agreed, and the women now receive a small gift of $125 every six or so months. That’s less than a dollar a day. They are truly doing this out of the goodness of their hearts, and the passion for their program.
Another thing that impressed me was the organization of curriculum and assessment the CBI has implemented. The unit they are working in now is ”Caring for Our Water.” This means kids in Arcatao from age 2 to 6 are learning about the water cycle, where their water comes from, and where it goes to.
Every six months, the staff at the CBI do an extensive assessment where they check five areas of psychosocial/cognitive development for each child. They also measure height and weight of every kid to make sure he or she is growing and gaining weight normally.
The children of the CBI aren’t the only ones getting assessed. Each year the parents and Junta Directiva evaluate each staff-person and say whether or not they would like them to return. These are some high standards for full-time volunteers, but with the combined X years of the 3 staff here, their work is appreciated and the community notes the difference.
Thanks to the solidarity-driven, sistering relationship between Madison, and Arcatao, the Junta Directiva was able to pay locals to fix the plumbing system and bring clean, potable water to the CBI. This means they can do things like…
Día de La Niña y El Niño Fiesta!
If the women who work here aren’t amazing enough, they threw a party to celebrate National Kid’s Day.