Casa Alianza Nicaragua 14th Year Anniversary - report from Jess Moser , Volunteer
The celebrations on the 25th of May 2012, during my second week with Casa Alianza Nicaragua, marked the 14th year since the centre had been founded. A visiting priest gave a Catholic ceremony, beginning the day with prayers intermitted by a choir singing to a guitar and tambourine, it adopted the soulful attitude that is displayed by the Catholic Church all over Nicaragua. During mass, everyone milled around the room, hugging and showing appreciation for each other, the same way it is traditionally done on the turn of the New Year. Nicaraguan culture holds great importance in celebrating those around them.
Before the anniversary’s partying and competitions could commence, it was time to reflect on the some of the achievements over the past 14 years.
We all sat together as we watched a video given by an ex Casa Alianza student. He spoke of his time at Casa Alianza and his life now. For the children, this was a glimpse towards a hopeful future.
This man now had a family of his own and a good job and all the support needed for a happy, comfortable life.
The concept of a future that resounded with everyone on this day and acted as a reminder of the potential that each child has and how Casa Alianza helps them to be the best they can, and reminds them that they have ability for success and that, for them, no goal should seem too high. The experience of seeing them all watch this film together got me thinking of the individual futures they all faced and how Casa Alianza will help shape and grow that future.
After the thoughtful and inspiring video the main celebrations began… Bringing the children back to the present and back to the childhoods that Casa Alianza is determined they should enjoy.
The staff kicked off the music, dancing and sports competitions.. The staff were fantastic entertainers, encouraging the four house teams to do their best by MCing a song about the four teams along to the music. In Nicaragua, everything has to be at full volume and after this point, this day certainly was.
The house teams are a system that was instigated by a previous volunteer. Like all children they love a bit of competition, but I have also come to realize quite how important ‘houses’ are for them. The coloured teams or houses are kept the same in all sports matches and events. Points are tallied up at the end of each month, encouraging the children to continuously aspire towards a collective achievement.
They also encourage them to mix and bond with others they may not usually spend time with. Moreover, it invites a sense of belonging and learning to support others. From what I saw of the children’s attitudes on this day, working with people that depend on you clearly brings out the best efforts.
The sports included volley ball and a few games that I hadn’t come across before. There was an interesting sport called ‘Argolla India’ which involves two teams, a court, a small hoop made out of rope and two long sticks. A person from each team stands in a small square at each end of the court holding their stick up straight. The aim is for the rest of the team to throw the hoop to each other whilst moving down the court and finally throw the hoop onto their own stick. Their team mate holding the stick can’t leave the box they are standing in, but can help by guiding the stick into a position to catch the hoop. The other team can try to intersect the hoop as it is passed around the court and then get it back to their stick. I didn’t take part in this game, but joined in with the staff vs. student’s game of volley ball, where I discovered that volley ball definitely isn’t one of my strengths and that I should probably try the stick sport next time. The children on the other hand are fantastic players, their determination in sport showing their clear ability to put their mind towards their passions. A few days ago, I caught a glimpse of their many trophies from football tournaments they have won. Matches against other schools and centres have given them the opportunity to really discover achievement and to be proud of each other and Casa Alianza as a team.
After the sports were over, teachers brought out food and everyone ate together. I felt lucky to have arrived in time to catch this day at Casa Alianza. I was able to witness a celebration were the chidlren could display their appreciation for their home. I caught a definite sense of this as they put great effort into enjoying and making the most of the day. I saw it in the speeches they made in thanks to Casa Alianza staff, supporters and donors, and as they intently watched the ex-casa Alianza student tell his story of success.
It all helped me clarify the importance that Casa Alianza held for them, a gratitude that often gets hidden through the dramas and difficulties that arise from day to day. Everyone was happy to join in and there was an atmosphere of celebrating what they have now, safety, opportunity and family. I felt privileged to take part in it.