Even though I kept it on the DL (most of the time), I had been really excited about this field trip for a while. Not too long ago, I heard about the plan of having Voices of Youth refocus on the community service aspect of the program. Community service hasn’t been emphasized as much due to the goal of fortifying the social and individual dynamics of the group i.e. self esteem, confidence, etc. When I heard that we would be going to Los Martincitos (a center for the elderly) and serving breakfast/lunch and putting on a little performance, I was immediately on board.
Los Martincitos is a senior citizen center in Villa el Salvador where more than one hundred elderly can receive breakfast and lunch, as well as participate in the center’s various programs. Participants have families that live too far away to care for them, live alone or have very little to no support. With that said, the atmosphere at Martincitos is welcoming, incredibly friendly and genuinely supportive, so that participants can feel like their quality of life may be little bit better. With that in mind, the kids prepared a program with performances and activities for their special day of service.
Waking up especially early on Wednesday morning was reminiscent of the early mornings I spent getting ready for past community service events like beach clean ups, door knocking for canned food and preparing for benefit races. We met the kids at the location where our workshops in Oasis take place and soon enough we were on our way to Martincitos!
The kids were incredible. Understandably, they were a little shy when introducing themselves to everyone, table by table in small groups, but no more than five minutes later, I looked around the room and saw many kids leaning into those who they were talking with and engaging in conversation. One of my favorite moments was after we all met in an area after introducing ourselves and one girl told me that she thought the abuelos were really cool – they are!
After helping clean dishes from breakfast, the kids presented plays and jokes, all of which went very well – they really quite hilarious. After the presentation of the plays and jokes, the kids had various activities to do with the abuelos and abuelas. There were the choices of drawing, playing board games and or getting their fingernails painted. My group helped facilitate the drawing activity and while it took a minute for the kids to get engaged, the end result was priceless. Some helped draw, others simply engaged in jovial conversation. I spent a lot of my time talking to a man who had been participating with Martincitos for the past four years. He showed me a small photo album that was filled with pictures of him with past and current volunteers who work at the center as well as pictures of his family. When we finished looking through the pictures, he asked me if I had a picture of myself. Because I didn’t, I suggested that we take a picture together and that if he liked, I could bring it to him during the next time we visited. And we did just that.
The couple of hours we spent at Martincitos were really fun and what made it even better was how enthusiastic the kids were. We weren’t even half way through our time there when many started asking when we were going to come back! I don’t know if/when Voices of Youth from Oasis will be going back, but in March, Voices of Youth from La Encantada will be doing a similar visit. Until then, I’ll be waiting to give José our picture and looking forward to what I’m sure will be another great experience.
To see photos from the visit, check out Building Dignity on Facebook and don’t forget to “Like” us!