People keep telling me that it must feel great to have the dormitory up and running. Sometimes it does feel great. Like on Tuesday when I went with the girls to play volleyball. Watching the girls become a team, I got that gushy feeling of “I’m doing something great!” that all volunteers are ultimately selfishly working for. It quickly passed.
I really feel like our work is just getting started and I have little yet to be proud of. The goal is not to take girls away from their homes but to provide them with a nurturing environment where they can excel in their studies. I know that is a process that takes some time, but I am increasingly confident that we are moving towards our goal. That is thanks in a large part to the incredibly hard work of Bianca. She’s been living at the dorm and dedicating 24 hours a day to its improvement and upkeep, from buying food at the market to organizing community building activities for the evenings when the girls have finished their homework. Graciela, the woman we’ve hired, has been living at the dorm as well. She cooks and has been hard working and supportive, though I should let Bianca talk more about her. Bianca has been living at the dorm to get it started and make sure Graciela works out.
A sign now hangs in the common area listing dorm rules. The girls made it themselves during an evening activity. The girls, though, are incredibly well behaved and hard working. They get back from school around 2pm, have lunch, and then immediately clean up and begin their homework. Some stay home and some go to the town library for help and materials. If they’re done by five (a lot of their homework is painstakingly tedious), we have an event planned for them. I’ll be teaching English Mondays and Wednesdays, with the other days reserved for something a little more fun. At around 6:30 is dinner, then its chores, and then the girls hang out until nine when it’s time for bed.
Of course, I’m always out of the dorm around dinner time. I’ve been living in Urubamba (about 25 mins away) and teaching English at an elementary school in the mornings. That distance, plus the fact that I’m a man, delegates me a peripheral role in the dorm. I’ve been working more on the administrative aspects of the dormitory, and spending at least an hour with the girls every afternoon. There is still a lot to do, a lot to buy, and a lot to figure it out. But it feels good to be working to run a dorm rather than working to open it.