Huancaro doesn't really exist on the maps that I have but it lies 25 minutes by taxi to the north west outside the main city, costing 3 soles or 50p each way. It is quite high and the area comprises untidily fashioned streets most of which are mud tracks. The area marks the outer limits of Cuzco and terminates in a rubbish tip and cemetery. Our unmarked school is situated just before this abrupt end is is no more than a largish living room attached to and existing house. We pay 40 soles a month or about £6.50 for its use and it is basic with no running water, an outside toilet in a yard which is in turned shared by chickens and dogs. (not the toilet)
There are 15 children on roll and the most I have seen so far is 13. They mostly wear bright green Bruce Perú tracksuits and they range in age from 5 – 13. The day begins by sweeping the classroom, washing of hands and faces from a bucket of cold water and is followed by a breakfast of bread with either meat, cheese, honey or jam and a nutritious drink all of which is prepared by the volunteers and brought to the school. Sometimes wee clean teeth as well.
In truth the lessons are somewhat disorganized and while there is a general plan many of the children are not able to engage fully in the activities. I have been working with some older children and have had some success in introducing counters and number lines, practicing repeated addition, telling time and some work with fractions. I also introduced thr game Connect 4 today which was an immediate success with the older children. Most of the children are well behind in their progress and some are functioning as much as 5 years below their chronological age.
Today was different because the teacher had to leave to take her baby for some medical attention. She decided I could be in charge and take the children for a hair wash. So we set off for the river some 15 minutes away, passing through the rubbish tip, descending a steep embankment and crossing a stream by way of some randomly situated stones. On the way we stopped for breakfast sitting on some grass.
On reaching the end of a gully the children began washing their hair in the stream. For some of them we administered treatment for nits and some of the children played in the stream and I had to tell a few off for mistreating a tiny frog and some large jumping insects. On the return we stopped for some fruit and finally made our way back to the classroom – towards the end the children were more difficult to control and a few took advantage of my inability to use appropriate language. Notwithstanding, it was a good morning and I took some great photos but resolved to take up matters with misbehaving children the next day.