The last and most important day of our week at El 20. Today was a big day for all of us because the trial for La Casita as the dinning space for the children was taking place. Early morning we arrived at Ofe’s house to have breakfast; I don’t really remember what we ate, but something that stuck with me was the jarrito full of coffee, so delicious and warm, gave me a sensation of comfort and happiness I really needed at that moment.
Immediately after breakfast, we headed to La Casita and started preparing everything. First we cleaned the space, we set up the tables and chairs for the children to eat and the prepared food to be placed, we created the signs for each of the stations of the “line” we had prepared and the team of architects came up with the greatest idea to secure the aljive for the children not to go nearby and risk a chance of getting injured… We set up everything. Meanwhile, the 3 women who kindly accepted to help us prepare the food were at the cooking and dining space they normally use, getting the panuchos ready for the meal.
And the time had finally come, the children started to arrive and from there, everything went so fast I barely had time to acknowledge we were at it already. We made the children form a line to start getting through the 6 modules we determined; the first were the pre-eating stages: the “Hand washing” module, then the “Take your plate” module and “Get your food” (making emphasis on the importance of saying please and thank you). Then the children proceeded to enter the space and pick a seat of their choice; after the they finished eating there was a “Throw your waste here” module, “Leave your dishes here” and finally a stage for feedback on the overall experience, in which the kid had to pick one out of three faces (smiley, neutral or sad) and place a rock or a seed inside the space set as container.
In the meantime, since the space hadn’t enough seats for all the children that arrived, another group remained in the green areas playing with Pedro and Laura a game that the team from Aalto had brought for the community. Its name was Mölkky and it was conformed by 13 wooden pieces, 12 with numbers and 1 heavier cylinder; the objective of the game was to knock down enough numbered pieces to get to a score of 50 but without going over that score. The children were really happy and interested in the game, even the group who was eating first actually rushed to get out and play with the others; they went from playing Mölkky to playing soccer, chasing each other around, making races… basically having a real blast together, it was a very delightful and beautiful scene to watch.
Sometime after, Claudia made a public call for the moms of the children who arrived to come and talk about the experience, but unfortunately only 7 of them showed up. However, we conducted a feedback session with the ones present and got some very good comments and opinions on how the session had developed; the women were really pleased to see their children happy and agreed on the fact that La Casita was a better space for the children to eat because it was spacious and more ventilated. In the end, they said that they were going to try to use the space more and make more tests to see if it was a viable option to adopt it as an everyday dining space.
At night, we gathered again at La Casita to talk about our insights on the day and to make a closure feedback on the activities of the whole week. I was happy to see that people who were not very enthusiastic about the activities in the previous days were actually more positive after that day’s trial, and the overall feel of the energy in the room was smooth and warm. I felt content and at ease.
It made me think of several things that had happened to me during the day, that were or felt as hugs but each with very different messages: longing, comfort, delight, acceptance… and I realized that was how I was supposed to embrace the day and the whole experience, how I was supposed to address the discomfort of not knowing if things were going to come out the way we had intended. To embrace it like a hug, one of those that say: “Don’t worry, just give your best and everything will be fine. And also don’t worry if in the end it’s not what you imagined, you know you tried your best and that is ok too”.