I spent two weeks in La Casita in summer 2014, and by the end of my time I wanted to abandon the rest of my travelling in South America and stay.
My friend Ciara and I originally were attracted to La Casita by the fact that it was free to volunteer. As students we didn’t have the £1,000 that a lot of the agencies ask for, but more than that, we didn’t want to pay money to an organization that would pass very little on to the children. That is the beauty of La Casita- everything is for the children!
We chose the homestay option, and I am so glad that we did. The family are the most welcoming people that I have ever met, we were never given the impression that we were intruding in their home- instead we were made to feel part of the family. Even after long days at work, Omar made us the most incredible home-cooked meals, Sylvia told us stories, and their son Rodrigo happily translated all of our terrible attempts at Spanish into something understandable. We were even welcomed by the extended family- Abuela, Leo and Sandra, Florencia and Marcos- and of course the adorable Gonzi (Silvia’s grandson).
The children in La Casita are absolutely beautiful! Although Ciara and I only spoke basic Spanish, we were able to build our own form of communication with the children, full of games and hugs and laughter. Sylvia has built an incredible place. La Casita is so much more than just a school or a playschool for the children, it is a home, and the sense of security and safety that it gives the children is obvious to see. The stories that we learned about some of the children’s pasts were difficult to hear and understand, but these children who have been through things few of us could imagine are thriving under La Casita’s care. Sylvia’s strength and determination to change not just these children’s lives, but the injustice in the society is so inspiring, and it was amazing to be a part of, even if only for a very short period of time.
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