Sara Defoor studied Pedagogical Sciences with a major in Special Education. In August 2015, she came to Oye LENA for the first time to do an internship of 6 months, after which she started working as a volunteer in 2016. Since February 2017, she is coordinator of the classes at Oye Lena and lives in Curahuasi with her Peruvian husband, Eddy Rios Delgado. In 2021, after 4 years, she will return permanently to Belgium. She will continue to support Oye LENA and of course visit the project again regularly. We put her to the test with some difficult questions… Curious?
What do you like most about the job?
“I like working with all the fantastic children and all the love you get from them. It gives you a lot of satisfaction when you know that you mean something to them and that you make a difference for them. Especially when the kids are at Oye LENA; you can really see that they are having fun and that they are learning and feeling good”.
What is the hardest part of the job?
“What I find the most difficult is the constant changing of volunteers. You have to adapt to a new group every few months. Then you have to explain everything all over again and start from scratch, which is a bit tricky sometimes. Besides, you often have to say goodbye to the people who have become your friends. The moment you have started to function as a team, you have to say goodbye again. That’s something I find very difficult myself.”
What’s your biggest blunder?
“I remember that the parents of the children of Oye LENA were at the project to play volleyball together. We were all on the sports field and I was also going to join, even though this is not my strongest asset. When I wanted to serve the ball, it already went wrong. The ball flew straight into the face of our student Belen, who suddenly stood in the middle of the field. Of course she immediately started crying, because she was very frightened. Luckily, there was nothing wrong in the end! This way, the ice broke immediately and it didn’t matter anymore to the parents that they didn’t play fantastic because I had already blundered anyway. Haha!
What else would you like to change on the project?
“More permanent staff to provide more consistency to the children would be very welcome. I think we all want this, but the search is difficult at the moment as there are not that many highly educated people living and wanting to live in Curahuasi. Professionals will always prefer to go to big cities like Cusco or Lima, where they can earn more money. So this will always be a bit of a challenge, unless we find someone with a big heart for the children, the job, and Curahuasi.
Besides that, we also need more classrooms. There are plans to make an extra classroom, so it would be very good if the necessary sponsorship will come. For the children with disabilities, for example, it would be better if they each have their own space to work in. Since it also rains more often than before due to climate change, you can’t sit outside so for this reason, an extra room would also be very nice”.
What’s your favorite moment of your workday?
“I enjoy it so much when I can play with the kids during the break. I think it’s great to see how they are having fun and how they can just be kids. I would recommend volunteering at Oye LENA to anyone!”
Why do you return to Belgium after all these years?
“After all these years of living in Curahausi, I notice that I have started to miss Belgium. Especially my friends and of course my family. Being together during important moments, but also after, for example, a difficult day. In Curahuasi, it is not easy to build lasting friendships. I have already made a lot of friends among the volunteers but they leave at some point and then I have to say goodbye again… Especially on holidays I have a hard time and I prefer to be with my family. Besides, you just have more possibilities in Belgium, life in a village in the Andes is more limited. It is a very difficult decision and I have doubted for a long time, but at the moment this is the right choice. But of course, I won’t let go of Oye LENA and we’ll see how I can continue to support the project from Belgium.
Thanks Sara, for everything.