We met with Julian in one of the many poor areas that he works in. He is a teacher and the coordinator of community spaces “refuerzo escolar” in poor areas within the city of Buenos Aires. He gave us a tour of one of the community spaces within the Bajo Flores district. Bajo Flores is an area that mainly contains immigrants from Peru, Bolivia and Paraguay.
Bajo Flores is very poor. There is a lot or rubbish lying around on the streets and dogs scavenging amongst it. Buildings looked badly constructed and very cramped. Julian took us to a community space where a kitchen and some small classrooms were situated. The kitchen is run by a couple of amazing ladies from the local community. Their names are Cynthia and Maria and they do this voluntarily. This kitchen which is the size of two double beds feeds 440 people per day. 360 children and 80 parents. The classrooms are for lessons for small groups of children.
Cynthia tells us that the around 2002 the conditions were that bad that people were raiding supermarkets for food. The area was in such a bad state that they had to start a type of soup kitchen with bits and pieces supplied by locals so that families could eat. Eventually the condition of the government improved slightly and the state started funding it and has been ever since. The only problem was that there is no type of quality control from the supermarkets that supplied the food. Cynthia said that quite often bad food would turn up. One day all the meat that turned up was off. I’d like to know how 440 people got fed that day. On another day all the eggs were bad.
The situation that these people live in is substandard! A simple thing that we take for granted such as “food on the table” is something that they have to fight for every day! Inadequate public infrastructures such as rubbish collection or provision of basic services like access to healthcare are pretty much nonexistent here. I’m not trying to pull on heart stings or exaggerate conditions, I’m just stating the facts.
We had a look at the small classrooms. They were brightly coloured and had children’s work on the walls. They weren’t that bad really, just not very light as there aren’t very many windows or much light in these tightly squeezed buildings. I’d say they’d be cold in winter. The computer suite had 3 old computers and a printer in it. It was smaller than the kitchen but I suppose it was better than nothing!
Cynthia stated that a project such as ours would definitely be possible in Bajo Flores. Cynthia and Maria even said that they would help with the breakfast! The only problem is the space to do activities as there literally isn’t much of it. It’s not really a big problem for us as I think we could work around it.
So, another good day in Buenos Aires and another possible site for us to engage in our project. Valeria and I were once again surprised in the spirit of the people. There is something about these places where people have nothing but all seem to be striving for a better life for their community!