Sunday, 2 June 2013

Loren goes Latina - Volunteering at NPH Honduras

Our wonderful friend Loren has been volunteering at our home in Honduras. Located in Central American, Honduras is north of Nicaragua, east of El Salvador and south of Guatemala and Belize. Honduras is a country that epitomizes the region in that it combines Mayan history and culture with heavy Caribbean influence. NPH Honduras was founded in 1954 and since its conception has house & cared for over 17,000 children. 

Loren has been volunteering NPH Honduras since the end of January. Her amazing experience is detailed via her website:

Below is an example of typical day for Loren:

6am: I wake up, take a look outside my window, and once again there’s not a cloud in the sky. Somehow I always get the song stuck inside my head “It’s gonna be a bright, bright, sun shiny day.. Look straight ahead, there’s nothing but blue skies…” Well this might change soon, as the rainy season is coming!

6:20am: I walk over to the kitchen to get breakfast (usually some variation of rice and beans) and milk. The milk comes from the cows we have here on the Ranch. Often the cows are left to roam everywhere so it’s not unusual to have to navigate around them on my way to the kitchen.

7:00 I walk to my classroom (only 5 minutes away). I walk past a gorgeous vista of the orchard, with mountains in the background. As I walk through the school on my way to class the kids greet me, either with a “Good morning Teacher”, a high-five followed with a fist bump or even a hug. There’s an area I have to walk through where all the cool boys hang out in the morning. Usually they find a way to play a trick on me, or tease me in some way. I’m used to it now.

7:30 My first class starts – and they keep going until 4pm. It’s a long school day. The kids have a mixture of classes and workshops (metal, wood, shoe making, sewing, food). At the moment my classes are running a lot more smoothly than when I first arrived. Last week I even had a few classes where the kids worked in silence for the whole 40 minutes! I was ecstatic!
It turns out that the kids don’t actually hate me as I first suspected by all the pranks they would pull. A few of them have told me that they’re learning a lot more English than they ever have and that they’re really enjoying it! Awesome – I hope things keep going up from here.

12pm: Lunch.  We all gather in the auditorium, say a prayer and then eat rice with something (beans, lentils, soup). I’ve become used to the food now and actually really enjoy it. Not all volunteers think like this however – An Italian volunteer I work with can’t stand the food! I guess if you were used to Italian food, you wouldn’t be happy with orphanage food :)

4pm: When I finish up at 4pm, the caregivers come to my class to see how the kids behaved that day. Usually there’s a few kids that tried to skip class, drew on my desks, slept in class or disrupted the class – a few kids even do all of these things in one lesson. After they leave, I do my best to sweep the classroom and straighten the desks. It’s not a surprise that we don’t have a janitor. I’m it. The Honduran teachers get the kids to clean during class time, but I don’t like doing that all the time because it disrupts their learning. As a result I try my best to clean the class as quickly as possible – as such, my class is definitely not as clean as Honduran standards (which are even higher than German standards!)

4-6pm: This is my free time. I usually walk home, eat peanut butter out of the jar (a habit I’ve become renowned for), do my chores and chat to the other volunteers about my day.

6-8pm: This is the time I spend with my babies – feeding them, washing them, putting them to bed and then doing the dishes. There are 6 babies at the moment and they’re the cutest things on the planet. I’ve started talking English to the babies, so that they’ll learn while they’re young and have escaped the negative attitudes of my lovely teenagers. They can all say “please” and a few of them can even say a few more things like, “Thank you” and “I love you”. I’m excited to see their progress over the coming year.

8pm:  By this stage I’m usually pretty tired so I have a shower, read a book and go to bed. Some of the other volunteers socialise until late, but I’m super antisocial after spending the day surrounded by noisy teenagers.

And that’s my life here on the Ranch. It’s sounds exhausting, and in many ways it is – but it’s totally worth it. I feel like I’m doing something here that is of actual importance. One of the teachers at the school (who was a child at NPH) told me the other day – “I’m from the streets. These kids are from the streets. They might be hard to deal with but you need to be patient with them. Some have been badly abuse and have had to steal to survive . NPH changed my life, it can change their lives too.”
The other day one of my students, a fourteen year old girl, sang me a song she had written. It goes like this. “I couldn’t believe it when my dad told me that my mum had died. I was so alone and sad. I couldn’t believe it when my dad abadoned me and my brother. I was so alone and sad. But God is good and he brought us here. God is good and I have forgiven my father. I love him very much. I know my mum is looking down at us from heaven.”
These are the kind of stories that each one of my students hold. This girl is amazingly strong and has been able to see the positive in her situation. She is so polite, kind and generous, always grateful for her situation. Unfortunately some kids don’t have this mindset. They can’t forgive the past and they’re terrified of the future. I just pray that more kids will become like this 14 year old girl – That they can make peace with the past and make the most of the opportunities that they have at NPH.

I’ve had a few people ask me how they can help out. One thing that I would really like to see improved here is the food situation. An ex-volunteer from Germany recently did some fundraising which has allowed us to have one piece of fruit a day. I’m not sure how long this will last, but I can certainly say that it is well appreciated on the ranch, where there was no fruit because of lack of funds.
For $1 we can buy 10 bananas. (I bought this today at the market).
So if you want the kids on the ranch to have fruit too, please consider donating some money. So that this money can go directly to the kids here at NPH Honduras, feel free to transfer money into an empty bank account I’ve set up for this purpose.


Muchas Gracias 

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