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A World of Red Land to Enjoy and Share

Updated: Oct 20, 2022

I am Martina, I am 36 years old and I have just returned to Italy after an experience of almost two months of volunteering in Paraguay (I’ll admit that I had to look on a map to know where it was located exactly).

For me, deciding to go as a volunteer was like hearing a call: it was a desire that I had for a long time and I was able to make it a reality.

When you have love in your heart, I believe that it is always good to know how to share it.

I lived for almost two months in a world of red land, diminutive and made out of nothing, where an infinite world that has everything, hides. I felt incredible human warmth, as if I was part of a great family and had been part of it from a long time ago.

I will never forget the sweetness of Katy’s hug, the girl who welcomed me the day arrived.

A hug that made me feel immediately like I was at home.

“My house is your house,” she said. With generosity a young couple from the neighborhood housed me (Katy and Miguel) with whom I immediately established a profound connection.

Living with them and being surrounded by the families in the neighborhood (about 50), of the children, in that difficult context, marked a difference in my stay.

I had left Italy with a suitcase full of curiosity, kindness, and an open heart to create an exchange of love, without any expectation.

I have just arrived with that same suitcase full of life experiences.

Like the artist that paints over a complete white canvas, like that I was with a pallet and brushes, day after day, I started to give form to a portrait where the colors were glances, smiles, generosity, difficulties, simplicity, hugs, enthusiasm, welcoming, dignity, gratitude, poverty, singularity, and the children’s astonishment and all of the people I met.

The project in which I had the honor of participating operates in the school context.

Unipar School, in the small neighborhood of San Miguel of Capiata, is made up of 65 children from the ages of 4 to 7 years old (a total of 4 courses).

The name of the school condenses all of its valor and meaning: Unipar, Unity and Participation. The activities include school support, provision of at least a daily snack, reinforcement of cognitive capacities of each child, and an unlimited dedication on behalf on the teachers: Nancy, Lety, Francisca, Gabriela and Yamile, the director (and the same applies to the volunteers and everyone who forms part of the school).

“Learning through play” is the method that the school utilizes.

I was immediately fascinated, andI let myself get carried away in creating my own lessons.

I was the only Italian, the only volunteer, with the language difficulty (I arrived only knowing a handful of words in Spanish), I had another profession in life (I am a travel agent), and suddenly I found myself in a totally different context, with different conditions and customs… It was a complete challenge for me!

I was “Profe Martina,” the gym and English teacher.

Along with the principal of the school, I found “space, form and color” in the project. It all happened in a very natural form, as though it was flowing.

I felt good, 100% free of expressing myself, of being truly “me”. I dedicated every day in thinking and creating a specific lesson for every age level of the class, something that was new and stimulating for the children, translating from Italian to Spanish (I always carried a notebook full of notes), utilizing ideas and materials that I would find while walking and observing what I had in my surroundings.

The people and children had the capacity of making me feel “me” at the other side of the world, and perhaps, they managed to bring out one of the best versions of me.

With the youngest, I created lessons oriented in stimulating their curiosity, imagination, all of their senses (smell, toch, hearing…), in addition to actively involving them.

With the oldest, we focused on gymnastics to develop coordination, team spirit and cooperation, combining it with English and Geography classes (At least for them to understand what was coming!).

And when the children asked: “Profe Martina, when do we have classes together?”, “Profe Martina, if you don’t have your notebook today, does that mean we don’t have gym?”, “Profe Martina, can you sit next to me in class?”, “Profe Martina, do you have any snacks? I will give you a piece of what I have!”, “Profe Martina, thank you for all of the love that you gave us”...They made me feel alive.

>> This article will continue. Wait to read the second part!

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