Sunday, May 31, 2009

It takes a village to raise a child...

Today was another standard day. No major tasks or traumas on our end, but one boy was taken to the hospital. I used to volunteer at a children´s hospital in the States and even there the parents often used the hospital as child care. They were uninvolved and nowhere to be found. Today, Hermano Hugo stayed with the boy the entire day, he truly is dedicated to those boys.

I´ve become partial to the 4 year olds. Of course there are a few other boys I´m attached to as well, but the 4 year olds, as a whole, have won my heart. Juvenal with his little face and need for attention, Figo always in trouble but very bright, Matthew starting fights just for attention who can always be stopped for a hug, and the twins with their eyes and their voices and those dance moves! I´ve been conscious about spreading my time with everyone, but it seems the 4 year olds need me most. Alejandro was exhausted and just having a hard day. I held him a couple times and eventually he just fell asleep on my shoulder. He´d have these dreams where he´d just start moving around nervously and I´d hold him tighter and he´d instantly relax. Walking around with him, talking to the other kids, I kept thinking ´´Who will do this next week?´´ How can I go home confident that Alejandro, Carlos, Juvenal, etc. don´t feel abandoned...again. I know another team is coming soon, but who knows how they´ll bond with the littlest ones. The 3 and 4 year olds are still so little and need so much love. The tutors don´t have time to hold them when they´re tired or insecure. If I could give any advice to the next group, it would be to hold those little ones as much as possible. In trying to make the most out of everything, I also hope the next team might bond with the kids I didn´t have as strong a connection. Most importantly, I hope I made a difference.

For my quote today, the African proverb seems most appropriate: ´It takes a village to raise a child´´

“May you always shave enough happiness to keep us sweet, enough trials to keep you strong; enough success to keep you eager; enough faithto give you courage;and enough determination to make each day a good day”

Today was really relaxing. This was our 4th day and everyone is finally comfortable...both volunteers and tutors. The kids are happy to see us and greet us affectionately. Even with the language barrier we are all communicating effectively. Everyone pitched in to help with the little ones which was so nice. They are a ton of work and it can be overwhelming. We are hoping the tutors are enjoying their short break from some of their responsibilities. Josie got hit in the head with a soccer ball so she helped the 6 years olds with homework and we watched our kids dance which was so fun to watch. The home is the best of a bad situation for most of our kids and they are amazingly happy.

Helping just by being there!

This morning Edith reminded the group of our team characteristics. The goal of our team here is to put first the boys / Asociacion, then the team / Global volunteers and ourselves last. To me, this means to at all times be concerned with how my actions are affecting the kids and how we appear to the tutors. Today is a long day, beginning and ending in the church, so we all are preparing ourselves to be on our best behavior.

A procession took place before we got to the center, to celebrate the Virgin Mary (Virgen Maria). While I couldn’t understand the mass we went to, the boys all seemed to pay attention for the most part, although I did see a number gazing around the room. I guess some things are the same wherever you are! Then we went straight to our familias after the service to get started on our morning activities.

Today in my familia, San Antonio, we finally finished re-organizing the massive closet! This consisted of refolding all the boys’ clothing and moving summer and winter clothes around. I think we got the hang of it by the end (muy bonito!) and were rewarded with fresh papaya juice, which we were told is good for your stomach.

After lunch the boys played in their yard while we helped the other tutors clean the floors. The houses are kept very tidy, with the floors washed at least twice a day and the boys pick up their clothes and school books and clean their shoes as they’re told. When we were done, I watched some of the boys play a mathematics game with dice, which I was told was a way for the boys to learn multiplication tables while keeping it fun. They have such an intense study schedule, that it’s good they still can find learning fun in other ways.

In today’s lesson, I looked through a history book with one of the boys and helped him translate animals into English. He seemed very excited to learn English words, so I was very willing to help him. The boys all seem to really enjoy talking and sitting with us, even if I can’t understand what they’re saying. I guess even if we’re not teaching them to read, write or do math, we’re still helping them just by being there.

Tonight was a special occasion for the volunteers. First we helped the tutors get the boys ready for dinner. I can say it’s quite a production to get 35 boys washed and ready for dinner! Then we stayed after dinner to go to the boys’ prayer. I was worried it would be like the morning mass, but the night time prayer is singing, hand gestures and a little bit of praying. It was a lot of fun dancing around with the boys, and a great experience to have been a part of. This would be a great thing to go on the video that one of the other volunteers (from Norway) is putting together of the Asociacion to put on YouTube!
Jenna Kruppa

Our Deepest Fear
Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate.
Our deepest fearis that we are powerful beyond measure.
It is our light, not our darkness,that most frightens us.
We ask ourselves, who am I to be brilliant,
gorgeous,talented and fabulous?
Actually who are we not to be?
You are a child of God.
Your playing small doesn't serve the world.
There is nothing enlightened about shrinkingso
that other peoplewon't feel insecure around you.
We are all meant to shine as children do.
We were born to make manifestthe glory of
God that is within us.It's not just in some of us;
it's in everyone.
And when we let our own light shine,
we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same.
As we are liberated from our own fear,our presence automatically liberates others.
- Marianne Williamson

First day at Ciudad de los Ninos!

The ride over to the Boys Home was unnerving as the traffic was unbelievable, and I thought we were going to be hit several times. After a couple of u turns (the poor cab following us), we arrived. The Father of the Boys Home was most welcoming and had perfect English. I was taken back by the pigs – the little piglets which did not have a long time to live, and then the monster father pig. The father had a harem of mother pigs, much like in some ancient cultures.

I myself had never seen the chickens gathered in such close quarters, not could believe the number of eggs they laid every day. All the animals, gardening, work shops made sense as they were all cumulating in money for the home. We are touring some of the other shops another day.

I took the middle group of boys, since I knew I liked the age group of 5-7. I was alone as far as our group went, and my tutors did not know English. I really didn’t have to do a whole lot in the morning initially, but did manage to mend some clothes (which I saw on the boys in the afternoon), fold clothes, and then I traced pictures for two of the boys to color. Tracing definitely was not a known skill of mine, but I survived.

As the boys arrived, they seemed to come in almost one by one. I had no idea the total number for several minutes. They just started pealing off their clothes to get into their afternoon outfits. I realized they just took whatever shirt/pants were out on the counter, and then many came up to talk to me.
I guess my first name is difficult as when they see it in print, it’s not pronounced like its spelled. My last name they could pronounce correctly every time, just by reading it. I just kind of froze and never really was able to say I didn’t speak English, but laughing and smiling seemed to work.

Lunch was unusual for me, as I didn’t realize the amount of food they ate and the order of how they have to eat it. As I kept trying to give them the drink, I never knew it had to be drunk after the meal. Naturally I was next to the slowest eater in the group, and I felt bad, cause the boys didn’t get chocolate until they had completely emptied their soup bowl, and plate. I made sure he got his chocolate, but it took awhile for him to finish.

After lunch the entire rest of the day was spent on homework. Although it took awhile for everyone to brush their teeth, and use the restroom, I was in charge of counting the number of sections of toilet paper for each boy, and when I gave one boy not enough, he did notice. The journals all had math problems and an essay from the morning. It took me several hours to realize some of the boys hadn’t copied the math problems, and when they kept jumping up and down to look at other boys journals, I actually thought they were coping answers. I had the table with the ones who couldn’t seem to be focused. Although after their showers, some of them settled down, since I understand homework has to be done before bedtime, or they don’t get to go to bed.

Showers and another change of clothes was the last thing I got to be involved with. They were preparing for dinner with a shirt and matching over shirt and pants. They all were dressed alike, and so cute. As we took two of them to the doctor and I had to leave, I got hugs. Hoping tomorrow, I can help more, since I understand the routine more.

Everyone seemed very tired on the way home, so we went straight to dinner. All had stories about their groups. The food here is so good, and very reasonable. I’m looking forward to the rest of the week.

It is a paradoxical but profoundly true and important principle of like that the most likely way to reach a goal is to be aiming not at he goal itself but at some more ambitious goal beyond it.
Laurie Kruppa