My first week working with High Tides proved to be just as overwhelming as my arrival. Our community centre in Primavera, one of the central districts in Lobitos, had only been open for one week prior to my arrival. This one week allowed word to spread of the centre’s opening, resulting in an extremely busy week where approximately 20-25 children passed through every afternoon over the three hours. The space was still relatively new, and there were many children wanting to do many different things at the same time; bracelets, board games, flash cards and reading to name a few activities. We were lucky to have local young people willing to volunteer and help keep the crowd under control. When we had time to reflect at the end of the week, Leah, the program director, and I considered that a combination of inducting a new volunteer to the organisation, the buzz generated about the centre opening and the need to familiarise ourselves with new surroundings made this first week seem very busy.
Fast forward two weeks and the atmosphere is quite different. As other after school clubs resume following the Easter holidays, the number of children subsided to approximately 10-15 children. We decided to implement a single activity for each day to keep them occupied and improve their focus. As we aim to encourage creative outlets beyond educational outlets, activities such as puppet-making, collages have appeared alongside story hour. Undeniably we are still working out our daily rhythm given that we only have one full time staff and an intern on hand every afternoon. The centre has made a lot of progress over the last two weeks. On a personal level, I have come to know the names and personalities of the children that frequent the library regularly, and with understanding the characters, I am slowly learning what is the best way to interact and talk with each one, beyond speaking Spanish itself! Looking onwards to the future, there is room for improvement, we have an aim to systemise our daily activities whilst also allowing for flexibility to best aid the personalities and the numbers of children present for each day.