S-Trip! Destination: Authentic Cuba, Varadero, Cuba
All of our students agreed - a visit to Mocha is worth the early morning, the hour-long bus drive, and all of the sweat that accumulates throughout the day! Our relationship with the staff at Escuela Primaria Miguel Sandarán, a primary school in the small town of Mocha, is very special, and our travelers all felt this. We are very lucky to be the only travel company that can acquire the necessary approvals from the Cuban government to conduct volunteer programs with the local schools, and the students were excited to participate in this once in a lifetime opportunity!
Another unique feature of our programs in Cuba is the remarkable welcome ceremony that is part of the tradition with all of our partner organizations and schools. Mocha is no exception! The young students put on a beautiful performance, including ballet, some local dance forms, a spanish sing-along song, and even a fashion show!
Continuing our project from this past March Break, our students helped replace the windows and doors in several of the classrooms. As can be seen in the pictures below, the old wooden structures, original from when the school was built in 1962, were falling apart and no longer effective at keeping the elements out. Slowly but surely, S-Trip! travelers are replacing all of these with shiny new metal ones. When I told our travelers that the school would not be able to acquire these without the funds from S-Trip!, they were so proud to know that their Grad Trip supported this school and the well-being of its students!
Over the course of three visits to the school, we replaced 5 windows and 1 door, getting them closer to a fully renovated school! We also pulled up all the brush and weeds in the front area, to make room to expand what is called the "Kitchen's Garden", where the staff grows enough produce to be used in school lunches for the children. The earth is now ready for new seeds to be planted!
All of us at S-Trip! marvelled at the dedication displayed by this community - especially the teachers, school staff, and parents' of the students - who all came in to work with us despite it being their summer break. We are so proud to be even a small part of improving the learning environment for these incredible students, who showed warmth and kindness to their newest friends from Canada!
Written by Lindsay Morris, the on-site Volunteer Coordinator for Varadero.