While touring through Argentina, Gina and Manuel set some time aside to run a few Bringing Smiles projects. They got to hear about an NGO school initiative called “Bachillerato Popular” from their Spanish teacher Natalia, who also happened to be one of the teachers volunteering in the evenings to teach adults from LaBoca, a difficult neighborhood in Buenos Aires.
Most of the students at the school (with age range 17- 70 years old) had missed out on regular school education due to teenage pregnancy, family violence or abuse of drugs. The teachers all donate their time to give these individuals a second chance at life by offering free education.
The entire school, including rental of the school premises (an old apartment) is funded without any governmental support. The teachers and students have to be very creative to raise funds to run the school. One of the fundraising initiatives involves meeting up every other Saturday to cook and sell empanadas. The classrooms are converted into a make shift kitchen for the day.
The Bringing Smiles Team, felt compelled to support the cooking initiative by empowering the students. Kitchen equipment was identified as the key thing that could expand their operation and make a major difference. We equipped the cooking team with pots, cutting boards and Tupperware. Gina and Manuel also joined the next cooking event to lend a hand in preparing empanadas.
As a small reward for their dedication to improve their own lives, they were invited for a special night out to watch a theater play. Sadly the event got canceled the day before as a person close to the students was shot and killed on the streets. We didn’t want the students to miss out on this event so we gave them a theater voucher to use in the future. They also got a classic Argentinean novel and an encyclopedia for the whole class.
Bachillerato Popular is officially certified school since 2011. Despite the challenging circumstances, they are able to support several adults to graduate each year. We want to thank Natalia for her help and hope she and her crew keep the spirit alive for many decades to come!
21. November 2015,