Starting on December 8th, 2008 when Carmen, the project coordinator of the foundation, picked me up at my home, accompanied me to the "Hogar de la Madre y del Niño" and introduced me to all the team members (Narcisa, the social worker; Madres Rita and Lourdes, the responsible nuns managing the "hogar"; Florcita, the seamstress and some of the 5 mothers currently living in the home). I was warmly welcomed by all and within hours already felt part of the team. That same afternoon I was challenged on my Spanish-English translation skills in a meeting with an Australian business man on a potential collaboration in producing wardrobe refreshers.
I joined the team in a very exciting period: Before Christmas most of my resources were dedicated to supporting the nuns in finalizing the childrens & costumes along with the accessories such as angel wings, crowns and stars which I thoroughly enjoyed. The nuns intended to set up a rental business for childrens‘ costumes for the "pase de niños" – the famous children‘s parade in honour of the Child Jesus – as an additional source of income. Our efforts were rewarded and the rental business took off well. Most of our clients were mothers of the children attending the nursery, another project managed by the nuns and supported by Fundación AVANZAR.
My role in this project was to help to take care of the children between 6 and 18 months in the afternoon, to sort out the donated drugs and to write an easy understandable manual on their appropriate usage.
Between Christmas and my departure End of January the team and I dedicated most of our time in project management: we set up a 2009 project timetable per quarter and worked out a detailed project and evaluation plan for the upcoming pilot course (March to May 2009) in cooking for domestic employees (a collaboration with the school of gastronomy to capacitate women and increase their chances for employment). Furthermore we brainstormed on how to increase usage of the available facilities in the "Hogar de la Madre y del Niño". Currently only 5 women are living in the home which could offer facilities to around 20. We worked out a plan to deeper investigate the ideas which occurred most promising to us. In the little time left before leaving Cuenca I was able to contribute in some preliminary investigations which were very encouraging!
In summary, I experienced seven exciting and very rewarding weeks in Cuenca. There are many opportunities and ways to make things happen and every even so little contribution makes a