July 23, 2017 by jiejie768
Over the past few days I’ve shared a bit of the history of Kids at the Crossroads as well as what the program does on a day-to-day basis. I highly encourage you to read those two posts as they outline the crux of what KATC is all about. Also, please consider donating to the program, as it lives on the generosity of donors and as little as $5 can feed all 120 kids for a day.
Without further ado, here is Part 3 of my KATC series:
Part 3: KATC, beyond the day-to-day
In addition to the amazing things that take place each and every school day at Kids at the Crossroads, the program also has several annual events (in and out of town) that extend its reach beyond Carmen Alto and into the Ayacuchan countryside. As none of these events took place during our recent visit, I will briefly summarize them and then link to the posts I wrote in 2012-2013 when Meg and I (and various family members) DID participate.
First the stuff GeGe does each year for the students in the program:
- The annual “Fiesta de La Navidad” (Christmas party): This is exactly what it sounds like. A huge Christmas party for the entire program. The festivities generally start with some kind of special meal, which is more involved than the daily sandwiches given out each day. When we were there it was pollo a la brasa with papas con qapchi alongside vats of chicha morada (delicious corn punch made by Hilda!). Following the meal, there is a concert performed by each grade featuring a blend of Peruvian and American Christmas carols. As a result of this particular tradition, “Mi Burrito Sabanero” and “Cholito Jesus” are staples in the Anderson/Johnston household while refrains of heavily accented “We Wish You a Merry Christmas” can be heard throughout Carmen Alto each December. Also, I much prefer the Spanish “El Tamborilero” to the English “Little Drummer Boy.” The year we were there for Christmas, the kids got to take a tour of the town in the big, yellow, double-decker tour bus that Alejandro drove. However, the tourcompany has since left town, and I’m not sure what, if any, activity has replaced the joyride. Finally, as they leave the party, kids are allowed to choose one toy to take home as their Christmas present from GeGe.
- La Féria de Utiles (school supply fair): Each March, before the start of the Ayacuchan school year, GeGe goes down to the market and buys mountains of school supplies and hosts a supply fair at the program. Kids “pay” for the supplies using “soles” (not actual money) earned by, essentially, attending the program regularly and behaving while there. I don’t remember exactly how it works, but I’m going to trust that I laid it out in the link provided in this section’s title. I do know kids also earn weekly points, which correlate to “soles” as well. These can be used daily to buy school supplies (as well as things like soap, toothpaste, and other personal hygiene materials) at the “Mercado KATC” on a much smaller scale. The annual fair is meant to provide kids with the major supplies they’ll need for the upcoming year.
- El paseo (field trip): This annual event was arguably my very favorite day of the year during our previous visit. Each year around the program’s anniversary, GeGe hires a few buses, rents an outdoor-recreation area near the river a bit outside of town, and shuttles all the kids out for a day of fun in the sun and water. Pollo a la brasa and chicha play a major role in this event as well. I won’t say much more, here, but please click the link to read about the paseo Meg and I got to experience (or at least check out the photos of kids having the time of heir lives!).
In addition to the above events, GeGe also sponsors a handful of trips up into some of the (very poor and VERY isolated) mountain villages surrounding Ayacucho. Briefly, they are:
- Christmas visits: Along with the party for the students at KATC, the program also plays Papa Noel (Santa Claus) to hundreds of children in mountain villages throughout the countryside. In addition to bringing a toy for each kid, they also supply a chocolate milk and piece of paneton to every child they encounter. These trips are amazing, and I’m so glad Meg and I got to participate in them during our previous visit (even if it didn’t go exactly according to plan … we still love you Alejandro!). This is usually a two-day event, though I think GeGe has changed the route for the second day in the years since Meg and I tagged along.
- Supply delivery: Similar to the Christmas visits, this event sees GeGe and staff travel far up into the mountainsides to deliver necessary school supplies to many of the same villages they visit during the Christmas trips. This event took place during my mom’s visit to Ayacucho when Meg and I last were here, so GeGe got to give her sister a little taste of life in the rural Andes.
I had planned to include a description of Meg’s and my role as part of this post, but (as ever) it’s a bit longer than I intended, so I will end here for today. Look for a post in the next day or two wrapping up this series and thanks for reading (and donating)!