A Bit of Creative Thinking at Maria Aux

Maria Aux is a small Church in the town of La Carpio. It is about 90 sqm and fits aprox 100 people at Mass time. It has a secondary room, the length of the Church (8 meters) and about 3 meters wide,  which the Kids call their ‘preschool’. In the back, there is a WC with a small shower area which has no water connected to its pipes but is used by the neighbours when needed – in a more old school way  – using pails of water. At the back there is a large sink where the kids wash their hands, unfortunately this is more of an outdoor area with no fence or door.

A few pictures show the areas described to give you the context we are working with.

The thing is, we do not have the luxury of building a preschool from scratch.  There is no space for it, there isn’t enough volunteers nor people to help at this time, and there is no budget available.

Nobody is really expecting anything to be done. The volunteers come here to help with the daily activities so as Sylvia can call in all the kids. When she is alone, unfortunately the kids come in 3 different shifts and different days a week. They learn less, get less love and end up on the streets too often. The volunteers being there and helping is on its own is big support.

Howeveeeeer, when an architect is one of the volunteers, she will definitely find a way to work on the space. And so I did.

The main goal is to make the place more child friendly and fun for the kids. From the first few weeks of being here, I was able to see what areas the kids use the most and where they are having the most difficulties.

The preschool space requires a good face lift; there is a lot of items spread around, leaving hardly any space for the kids, the equipment does not work and is used for storage, the cabinets and shelves are in very bad condition, the hooks do not fit the bags and are falling apart, and the walls have peeling paint and very old drawings on them that have been damaged from the wear and tear.

The bathroom, well , needs everything. We cannot work with the pipes of the shower as it is not connected to the main water supply, however, there is a lot that can be done. We also need to work on steps to get the kids up there – the half cement block that you see is not the safest thing for toddlers and niños.

As for the back area, this one needs the most work and is actually the most uncomfortable for the kids. They cannot reach the sink as it is too high, the tap is too far for them to get to, and the area is all open and swampy – which means many stray dogs and cats come in and end up hanging around the children – which we would like to avoid.

Finally, if possible, we want to make it all a bit more easy for kids to be in. Cleaner, brighter, with a bit more space for each one of them. The preschool needs to feel like it is theirs. Many days, when the church is being used, the 30 of them are in here together playing and dancing around.

We have to make it a better place, and we will – all together – with your support as always.


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