September 22nd was a different day for sure. None of us really knew what to expect. While on the bus, we tried to imagine what was waiting for us in the very mysterious locality of Bruzzano. The typical 9 o’clock Milanese traffic jam gave us the time to make conjectures, and, maybe a little bashfully, to talk about ourselves, our plans and our first impressions of the city.
When we got to the kindergarten, we were welcomed by a small team of teenagers, accompanied by the representative of Milano Altruista and an activity coordinator. After an explanation about what “Milano Altruista” is and an introduction to the project, our mission for that day became clear: we had to paint the walls of the kindergarten and we had to do it well, carefully and precisely.
“These children deserve to have a nice place where they can play and learn – this is a gift we are offering them,” we were told. We soon realized that many of the children who would be coming to this kindergarten were from various other countries ̶ some had arrived with immigrating families, others had not had the easiest of starts in life for a variety of reasons. Because of their limited funds, they could not afford to pay professionals to do the work and that was precisely why we were there. This explanation triggered in us a strong sense of responsibility and the right dose of motivation to give of our best.
We were provided with everything we needed: jumpsuits, shoe-covers, gloves, brushes, rollers, buckets of paint, bottles of water and fresh snacks. It was hilarious: used to seeing each other with semi-professional outfits, there we were in huge, shapeless jumpsuits! After taking some pictures and funny videos of us dancing and laughing, it was time to start work.
We were divided into three teams: a small one of 3 people, and two bigger ones. Each team picked out a team leader and was assigned an area to paint, either the yellow or the blue one, while the small team was responsible for another indoor activity. We soon realized that when it comes to painting walls, the actual painting is just a small part of a bigger process: first, it is important to clean everything to get rid of the dust; secondly, you must cover everything you do not wish to paint with tape and newspaper, and only then can you start painting. After that, it is important to wash all the brushes and tools because otherwise you will not be able to utilize them again. Finally, you can remove the tape and enjoy the end result.
Even though it sounds like a lot of work, team work really paid off. We were fast, efficient and well-organized!
We were not the only ones who were happy and satisfied with the result. The children at the kindergarten were just as amazed as we were. They all gathered in the yard, sang us a song and gave us each a drawing they had made as a “Thank you”. It was a special and rewarding moment, and paid us back for all our hard work: we could not have been prouder!