Volunteering in Venezuela [Part 5] - Manak-Kru
Manak-Kru is an indigenous village that we visited just outside Santa Elena when we weren’t volunteering with the Invasion kids at the Aldeas de Paz Foundation. The community was completely different here to that of the Invasion. For starters they were a lot better off. There were proper houses with pathways and gardens, and real roads running through the village, rather than the dirt tracks in the Invasion. These kids had better education as well. I was there during the school holidays so we couldn’t work in the schools but the different standards of education were obvious. We had a mobile school which we took down there so the kids could do a number of different activities. I don’t really know how to explain the mobile school so the photo’s will probably show best how it worked. We did word recognition exercises, Maths and general language activities. I usually managed alright with these, despite my lack of Spanish, generally it was fairly obvious what was involved in each activity and surprisingly I managed to make myself understood.
There were some activities that were more fun, rather than educational. We could teach them to do origami, there was a ‘Where’s Wally’ type puzzle, and a kind of makeshift Twister that they really seemed to take to. It was so sweet, they would come up to us and take our hands and drag us towards a particular exercise that they wanted to do. They would sit with us for ages going through all the different exercises on a particular board, grinning like maniacs when got it right. We didn’t know these kids as well as the ones from the Invasion since there were so many more of them, but it was just as fulfilling to work with them!
As well as volunteering with the kids, we also helped painting and restoring their playground. This led to an extremely amusing/dangerous event. Another volunteer and I were painting a swing set. She was holding the ladder while I climbed up it and painted, because the ground was very unstable. It was taking ages to paint it well so she decided to climb up as well, so we were both on the ladder. When we finished that bit we had to move the ladder down, but the ground was even more unstable so we propped the ladder against the side of the swing set and both climbed up it again.
I wondered what it would be like trying to do that in England, with all the ridiculous health and safety; swinging off a unbalanced ladder whilst trying to paint! Needless to say, I got completely covered in paint and spent a week with purple freckles because the paint was waterproof. I also had to climb up one of those metal climbing wall things (see photo) and paint the top of that because no-one else would. I actually managed that without getting myself too covered in paint!
During my second week in Venezuela there was a fiesta in Manak-Kru. The whole village had spent the week building stalls and generally getting the area ready for the fiesta. We went down there one evening to watch the events, drink beer etc. They were holding a Miss Manak-Kru contest, which we found pretty funny since all the contestants looked like they would rather be anywhere else in the world than there. They also had some very strange dancing with these woman in gigantic yellow dresses and some more conventional street dancing. What made my night (sadly) was when I bought a bracelet from a strange gypsy man and he looked at me, smiled and then made me a ring from a piece of copper wire. It had a heart and a flower on it and I still wear it now (despite the fact that it turns my finger a lovely shade of green). Every time I looked at it I couldn’t help smiling, and I ended up grinning like an idiot for the rest of the night. I started chatting to a guy who turned out to be Guyanan, and he was so excited to be chatting to an English girl that he introduced me to his entire extended family! They did buy me beer though! So that was a result.
You can learn more about volunteering and Venezuela in: Walking with Lions by Alistair Mirfin
Other hubs in my series of Volunteering in Venezuela
- Volunteering in Venezuela [Part 1] - The Long Journey
I spent August in a small town in Venezuela called Santa Elena, volunteering with under-privileged children. This is about my epic journey from home to Santa Elena
- Volunteering in Venezuela [Part 2] - Aldeas de Paz
When I went to Venezuela to volunteer with under-privileged children, I was working for an organisation called Aldeas de Paz. This is all about the place I was staying!
- Volunteering in Venezuela [Part 3] - Santa Elena
This is the third in my series of hubs about when I was volunteering in Venezuela. This hub is concentrating on the town of Santa Elena, where we were staying, and the different things we did there.
- Volunteering in Venezuela [Part 4] - The Invasion
When I was volunteering in Venezuela we were working with kids from what was known as The Invasion. This hub is about their lives and what it was like working with them!