By Alice Ebeyer (NC Intern – McGill University)
Time flies in the High Andes… It has already been four weeks since I have arrived in the Sacred Valley, meaning that I have also had the occasion to visit Cuncani three times. So far, it has been a wonderful experience, where I could spend unique and intense moments with the people I have met there, but more specifically, the children.
I have mentioned it in my last post; my participation in Nexos Comunitarios initiative will be focused on the 2nd chapter of the Photovoice project. This tool is part of Participatory Action Research methodology and is based on storytelling method that aims to illustrate firsthand representation and perceptions of the community.
This Photovoice chapter is focused on the children, and my role is to assist on develop or strengthen the ties with them, so they can feel more comfortable with us. The whole project is supposed to be fun for them : the more they are comfortable and enjoying the process, the best they will express themselves in a natural manner. The process of the project clearly states that they have to be considered as equals and peers. All forms of superiority expressed by the age difference must be avoided. As NC claims, this research project is made “for the children, with the children, and by the children”. Thus, the more I am accepted, the more I can be efficient in my work. Indeed, the High Andean people as a whole may be considered more introvert than people from the North. This characteristic can be reflected through the kids’ behaviour toward strangers. Consequently, I have to pay more attention to some of the children who are shyer than others. In the end, I hope that they will consider me trustworthy.
As part of my responsibilities , I have to help with the design of the class activities, which include creative workshops. For instance, for the first class, they had to draw what they liked the most in Cuncani. I was touched and surprised because all of them drew animals, the mountains or the river in priority. Where I live, I feel like the children would have paid a lot less attention to this basic thing that is yet so beautiful and essential : nature. For the second workshop, we made them play with frames; the goal was for them to act like it was a camera. They had to capture what they liked the most in their community. Almost all of them took ‘pictures’ of the river; they then had to decorate their frames as they liked.
At the end of each activity, we have to gather their work and at home, write a general report about the workday but also a child by child report. Recording the Photovoice project process like this allows us to verify if the children are getting more confident, if they are ready to share more feelings and thoughts; essentially, to analyze the evolution of our work
By the end of my time here, we will have to help them create their own camera made out of cardboards so they can get familiar with real ones. In August, a group of psychology students will come and work with Nexos Comunitarios. At this moment, the kids will be given actual cameras and they will have to take them home so that they can take pictures of items and places that are relevant for them.
I am in the early stage of this relationship with the children, but I already feel really connected to them and I cannot wait to establish genuine links with them, hopefully beyond the internship work context, in a way that is good for both of us.
 Nexos Communitarios, 2016, 35-36