There are projects that take a lot of planning and preparation. They engage a lot of time, but also bring a lot of satisfaction once they’re done. Then there are impromptu projects, realised quickly after the need is identified. They’re often small but come from the real need of the community. One of those was painting the lines on a volleyball court.
Volleyball has a special meaning in Blue Creek. Afternoon games seem to be the only meeting point for young people from the village. Boys and girls in their late teens / early twenties take the time to play after finishing work. Sometimes people in their 40s and 50s join, sometimes 12-year-olds. Everyone is welcome, even if they don’t play as well as the others. Other times, the games get serious, when the Blue Creek team competes with other villages or teenagers from Tumul’kin high school. Regularly participating in those games has, ultimately, opened the doors for us to start working with the youth, who tend to be the most difficult group to engage in activities.
We’ve facilitated a few training sessions with BC team for local primary school girls’ team before district finals in Punta Gorda. We’ve also managed to engage the boys from the team in helping us sometimes with heavier tasks such as hauling dozens of wooden boards to use in kid’s clubs. However, we think that they’ve finally realized we’re here for their benefit when we took the matters into our own hands, and after 3 weeks of talking about barely visible lines on a community volleyball court, we bought a gallon of paint and organised a big painting action. On a scheduled hour several young men came to paint their court. We were very happy to see some other villagers, who had been just passing by, come and join us, even for half an hour.
Painting the volleyball court lines, that took two hours, may not seem like a lot to write about, however we were extremely happy with the outcome. First, the idea came from the team members themselves. Second, many people ended up painting with us and the afternoon itself was productive and fun. Third, we like to think that this small action, tailor-made for the Blue Creek community, will help us gain the trust of the people, make them trust that we’re here for them and not for us.
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