Friday, September 2, 2011

Making recycled paper with the kids

Back in August I went with the Ciudad de México Rotaract Club to spend time with the children at a temporary shelter run by the government. We worked with about 30 kids in the older group (about 7-10 years old) making recycled paper.

The kids were excited to participate in the activity. They had so much energy, which made things a little more chaotic, but the process itself isn't very complicated. We shredded paper (that had already been used and needed to be recycled, of course!) first and then blended it with water in a blender or food processor to make a paste. Each child put paste onto a rag, stretched between an embroidery hoop. From there, they patted out excessive water and started drying it with a hair dryer and then an iron (with assistance). If it had been a sunny day the paper would have dried much quicker outside, but unfortunately it was cloudy and drizzling.

It was fun spending time with the kids - doing the activity, playing pretend, talking about what they planned to do with their paper, watching their games of hangman (success at an organized activity!), etc. The experience was pretty intenses though. All of the children (age 0-12) are there because they were removed from their home due to abuse, their parents are in court proceedings or they were abandoned. It is only a temporary placement (I believe the maximum time they can stay is 2 years) before they are retuned to family, placed with other family, or sent to a children's home or orphanage. Because its temporary housing, each week there's a different number and group of children. It was slightly overwhelming just how many children are there (and what a demanding but necessary job for all of the women and men that work their). I helped take some of the little ones up to the nursery for bed time and it was heartbreaking to think they had to be removed from their home or had been abandoned. It was surprising how independent even the smallest ones were, though I supposed it's a necessary skill when there are that many children. I was surprised we didn't see more behavioral problems while we were there, due to what the children have experienced. I'm glad we were able to bring an activity to break up their day and spend some time with them. It was definitely an intense and emotional experience for me. I hope to be able to go back again. 

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