This month we got an invitation from Cristina, the teacher of one of the schools that we help with Soaring Argentina. So this last Friday it was time to celebrate the kids' birthday and I couldn't be more excited about it.
We wanted to share a special day with the kids and connect with them on a different level. And let me tell you, they didn't greet us as people that were there only to help their school and bring supplies, but as true friends.
Together with Cristina, we organized a birthday party for 23 kids, with gifts for everyone, snacks, a huge piñata filled with candies and toys, tons of colorful balloons, and of course, some birthday cake! We arranged a soccer game with the field staff and the kids. It was truly rewarding to see so many happy faces throughout the school... Everyone was having a great day, filled with laughter and fun games.
Tata, one of the field's assistants got a brilliant idea! He wanted to build a kite with the children and they were super excited and hands-on building it from scratch! We also played several birthday games like musical chair, hide and seek, tong-twisters competition... you name it! Everybody danced, sang, told stories and shared an amazing day with us.
Towards the end of the day, when it was time to say goodbye, we poped the piñata, sang happy birthday to every kid and gave them a present. We thanked Cristina for inviting us to share this special day with the children and she thanked us for joining them. Then, she said something that has stuck in my heart ever since: "This is the memories that we remember when we get older: What an amazing time we had at my birthday party! And thanks to the efforts of everyone that joined in to make this happen, I'm sure this day will live in their hearts forever". And I agree completely, a happy childhood is made mostly out of happy memories! So let's keep reaching out to these kids and building great memories with them. I know I'll never forget this amazing, fun day!
Serving as part of the Soaring Argentina team April 2018, was an incredible experience. It was our first time in Argentina and I couldn't wait to meet the teachers and students in the rural schools after hearing about how special they are. Both things exceeded my expectations.
First, the teachers are highly committed. Each of them is either driving long distances back and forth daily to be with their students or they have set up a humble home at the school. The Soaring Argentina team drove more than two hours each way to reach these destinations, passing very few homes along the way. Despite the challenging circumstances, the teachers do not let their circumstances get in the way of their enthusiasm to teach or their love for the children. They are kind and generous. Each teacher we met have grateful hearts to have jobs where they feel that they are helping to impact the future of their students.
Second, the students are happy just having the chance to learn. This in spite of their supplies may be limited, the books may be old and the tables and chairs may be rusted. And just because they don't know anything different doesn't mean they don't deserve something different - which is what we aimed to provide through Soaring Argentina.
The first day we spent time painting the inside and outside of Escuela San Cayetano. Although there are only three students that attend, we provided a brighter atmosphere with yellow walls and a light red exterior. We also provided the students with school supplies, story, and educational books, and spent time outside reading and playing games with them during their study breaks. On our second day, we visited Escuela Olegario Rodriguez where we focused our efforts on the exterior of the school. A beautiful mural was completed along with a fresh coat of paint on the outside and outdoor play equipment. The soccer field was cleared of the brush so it could be used. This lively bunch of students loved hearing about where we were from and we spent time sharing some of our favorite storybooks with them. After the mural was completed, each student and Soaring Argentina participant left their handprint on the wall next to the school's four values: amor (love), respeto (respect), solidaridad (solidarity) and amistad (friendship). On day three, we visited three other schools delivering school supplies, medical supplies, and books to the teachers and students. We read with the students and we learned about their favorite hobbies, school subjects and even what they preferred to eat for lunch. Although it was important for us to make the improvements to the buildings and deliver the supplies, it was most meaningful to spend time with the teachers and students.
What I was struck by most was the resilience of the students and the commitment of the teachers. These rural schools are such important places for these children to attend and have a chance to learn about the world. The reality is they may not meet many people besides their classmates. Soaring Argentina provides them with the opportunity to make connections with people who are from different parts of Argentina and in our case, the world. It was a valuable experience for me. I was deeply moved when given a chance to love on these children and to spend time sharing a part of our world with them, as they so graciously shared parts of theirs.
I will always hold these teachers and students close to my heart.
We are used to thinking that people with great necessities are far away from the big cities we live and spend our lives in. I’ve lived in Cordoba City for most of my life and I never realized that only three hours away from my cozy home, children live and study in such conditions. When Pointer introduced me to the work this great group of kind-hearted people do in Soaring constantly, I was, to say the least amazed. Behind the scenes, there are great lengths of effort to improve education and health in the countryside of our beautiful country. On April 23rd I was introduced to who is probably one of the most selfless and dedicated teachers of Cordoba. Monica and her husband Marcelo take care and teach to 3 joyful kids every day and their students are the most polite children I’ve ever met, and I think this is a reflection of the dedication and love Monica adds when teaching them.
Monica and Marcelo have to stay in the school overnight when it rains since the roads to the nearest town are impossible to use because of the lack of infrastructure. Thanks to donations of Pointer Outfitters’ guests, we got to buy new mattresses for them to sleep in when this happens. I can’t begin to describe how grateful they were.
That day we talked a lot about what we can do to help and they told us that what we do, no one else is willing to. Lots of people here think that giving to charity means getting rid of your old stuff to help someone in need. And a lot of this goes into it, but what we tend to forget is what they need the most is to not be left out. Monica thanked us more times than I could count on gifting them our time to transform their school into a place they now look forward to going to.
We painted the whole school with vibrant colors, cleaned up everything the classroom, and bedroom, and arranged plenty of English/Spanish story books our American guests brought for them.
The rest of the year for Soaring volunteers is all about organizing and planning ahead. That’s why on the days prior to this mission, we spent most of our time sorting through school supplies, clothing donations, planning activities to share with the children. And let me tell you, the look on their faces was priceless. We are used to seeing children who have the latest toys, the coolest school supplies, a snack for recess every day, and no concerns, and I think that’s something that every child should have access to.
All in all, the first day of the mission was greatly rewarding. I went back home feeling humbled, but concerned at the same time thinking about what else we can do to keep lending a helping hand to these amazing kids. That’s why I’m inviting you to get involved. There are a lot of ways you can help! If you’ve booked a hunting trip with Pointer Outfitters, you can bring clothes, school supplies, books, cash donations. It may seem that is not that much for you, but all the donations we can get adds up and allows us to continue helping them. You can sponsor children who have shown interest, desire, and aptitude to continue their studies in high school. We can also use help with painting supplies, and if you want to be a volunteer and get to know this wonderful kids and teachers, you are more than welcome to join us!
Will you join us and help Argentina soar to new heights?
Volunteer at Soaring Argentina
Sales Department at Pointer Outfitters, Argentina.
Soaring Argentina is a non-profit organization which the main goal is to improve education in rural schools in Cordoba as well as to provide medical aid and supplies. Two main mission trips are organized every year, but we are constantly in touch with schools and teachers.
This year, the date was April 23rd – 25th. Unfortunately, I was able to participate only one day, the first day out of the three. And I say “unfortunately” because I would love to have been there all three days, but I must say it was one of the most rewarding experiences.
That Monday, April 23rd, we arrived very early in the morning to Escuela San Cayetano, a small school in Salinas Grandes, located in the north of Cordoba province. Kids were having classes in the backyard, and we got to work straight away.
I remember we were so many people and everyone was doing something helpful, and I just stood there because I didn't know what to do. I didn’t know how to be useful. In the end, I decided to sweep the classroom that was about to be painted, so I went on looking for a broom. As I couldn’t find any, I asked for one to Monica, the only teacher the school has. As soon as I told her that I wanted to sweep the classroom, she hugged me, and I realized how such a simple act, an everyday act, could mean the world to someone, someone living a different reality than mine, someone like Monica.
It immediately crossed my mind something Eduardo Galeano, the writer, once said in one of his books: “So many small people, in small places, doing small things can change the world.” I couldn’t help but think how much truth there was in such a simple sentence.
By writing this, it is not my intention to tell you to step by step everything we did, because you actually have to be there to experience it all. We swept. We sanded and painted the walls, the window frames, and shutters. We washed down the classrooms and reorganized the class books. We cleaned up Monica and her husband’s bedroom. But it was so much more than that. For them, it was a chance to believe that things can better, and better yet, that there are people willing to give them a hand. For us, or at least for me, it was knowing that even with a simple gesture we have the power to change someone’s life, even if it is just for a day.
My name is Daniel Hardy and live in Dallas. April 2018, I joined a team of four who spent three days working at five schools cleaning, painting, reading stories and teaching the students about new places. We were even able to practice our Spanish and teach the students some English!. In addition, we were also able to provide the children with school supplies, clothes and even medical supplies that we left at the regional medical clinic.
Each day we had over a dozen staff from Pointer Wingshooting working alongside us to better the lives of the students and bring joy to their hearts. That was some of my most enjoyable moments of the entire trip! Getting to know the men and women, seeing their hard work, and the care they have for their fellow Argentineans, all while laughing and enjoying each other. Serving alongside with the Pointer Wingshooting team felt like being part of a family. It is so encouraging to know this team of people will continue to invest time, resources and care for these great children and teachers.
Of equal importance, our physical presence at the schools let the children and teachers know they are cared for. One teacher even commented that we did not just bring supplies, but that we gave the most valuable thing of all; our time.
I truly believe that the time spent with the children, the Pointer staff and just living in another context for a week was an investment that I will never regret.
This mission trip was not only those 3 days at the schools but months of planning, brainstorming, sorting clothes, classifying boxes with supplies for each school, as well as kits for each kid. It was talking to the teachers, to people in the community, in order to collect every piece of information we needed to make those 3 days count.
We have been visiting the same schools for 2 years now, but there is something that has changed; we’re now part of the family.
They all received us with open arms and excitement to find out what would that day surprise them with. The bond that we have created with the schools is amazing and pushes us to keep doing this and even more.
I admire the dedication of the rural teachers. Working in one-room schools with students of different ages and wide-ranging skills, they are also usually tasked with feeding them, cleaning the classroom, driving the students to the school and back to their homes.
The schools have an extra room for the teachers to stay in but that room, as well as the whole school, is not in its best condition. Some of the kids also stay at the school during the week since traveling back and forth is a big hassle due to bad roads, long distances, weather, lack of public transportation, etcetera.
Unfortunately, the fact that rural schools have been left behind and continue struggling, is no surprise for us.
One of the projects we wanted to work on during this mission was that; we bought new mattresses, pillows, covers, and blankets for Monica at San Cayetano School and we’re planning on checking every room at every school in our next visits to make sure we give the teachers a decent place to sleep and rest when they can’t go back home.
The first two days we painted two schools and a beautiful mural at one of them. We cleaned up a whole outdoor playground and painted the slides, climber, swings and set up a little soccer field.
Before this, the students were not able to play outside since the weed was too high and there were risks of coming across a snake while playing. Can you believe that?
I’m sure we can all agree that children need a safe and inspiring playground. Playing, apart from being fun, supports learning, increases children’s concentration, improves their social skills and fosters their creativity in a safe environment. Every kid deserves all that and the chance to have fun.
We had a great time sharing those days with the kids and teachers, and it’s truly moving to see how everyone at Soaring, hunters that travel to Argentina with an extra bag with donations, people in the area that came to our office to bring clothes and supplies, our friends and families, were so helpful and generous and made this possible one way or another.
Looking forward to another successful mission in October!
We are offering a free hunting trip to anyone who will join us in these efforts.
For more information about this offer and our missions, please contact Wayne Graham, a key supporter in helping with this local mission. You may contact him at any time for further information.