In the barrio
Day two was an early start to the day and was the first of several! That morning I woke up with laringitis, yup no voice! I started out getting a sore throat the night before we flew out, and had Todd do an emergency stop at the 24 hour drugstore on the way to the airport. Thank goodness! I needed those cold/flu drugs! On the up side I had a hot shower. It actually wasn't bad I didn't feel like crap just no voice!
"Sister" of one of the students, the family she was staying with
Ahhh, palm trees!
Early morning in the barrio
Mornign sunlight starting to touch the buildings
The day started off warm and sunny, the first of many (it was pretty much sunny and in the 30's every day!), I got some lovely early morning shots of our Barrio as we waited with the kids for the bus to come get us. We loaded into the bus and headed out to NPH, Nuestros Pequenos Hermanos an Orphanage that has locations world wide (more popular in South America/Mexico/Caribbean Countries) as it was started in Mexico by a priest.
Kids shoes all lined up
This year I got to experience the orphanage properly. Last year we arrived to find out that one of the children had passed in the night. The atmosphere last year was completely subdued as the community was in shock.
Working in the NPH library
When we arrived we were divided into two groups and sent off to work for the morning. Half of the kids went and weeded the garden, the second half came with me as they had a project close to my heart! A Canadian group had donated boxes and boxes of Spanish BOOKS! NPH was starting up a library for the kids. The books had been unpacked from the boxes as due to the humidity they were starting to mould. So our job was to organize all the fiction books by author's last name. The library was being organized by Andrea who has no library background. So you can guess she was VERY excited to have me there seeing as I'm a Library Technician. I was VERY at home with the books LOL. I gave her some ideas and tips and gave her my card and told her to e-mail me anytime for help and ideas.
NPH High Needs Kids
We took a break in the library work to help set up and play sports with the special needs kids. What a treat that was! I often interact with the special needs kids at work and they hold a special place in my heart. We played basketball, catch, soccer and just walked around, it was what the kids wanted to do. Unfortunately I can't share pictures of the students that came on the trip, but one of the girls had a very special moment when she saw that one of the special needs kids had the same condition as her younger brother. I have a beautiful photo of her holding one of the kids.
A Nun at the orphanage
After playing with the kids, it was back to the library and back to work. We really rocked out organizing the books and getting them on the shelves. We then went back to the administration office and conference room, where we watched a video about the history of the orphanage and learnt all about how it works. I feel that the volunteer coordinator didn't do as good of a job explaining the mandate and philosophy of the orphanage.
Park at the orphanage, just added in the last year
The Orphanage was started by a Mexican priest when a young homeless boy broke into his home to steal some food. The idea behind this orphanage is quite revolutionary and I really like the concept. The facility is run by volunteers that are on 1 year stints. Children are referred by local child care services/churches/police if there is more than one child in a family they take in all the children and brothers and sisters are kept together. These are children in very abusive situations, have no parents or relatives could be located, and other situations. The orphanage is set up in "houses" each house has about 20 children and they're set up in : toddlers, 5-10, teenagers and so on. Inside each home depending on how independent the group is are 2-4 tias and they help to take care of the children. On site is an elementary school and they're working on building a high school, currently the high school kids are bussed into town. The orphanage is a Christian facility and the kids are not only raised but their spiritual development is taken care of too, there is a church on site and nuns also work at the orphanage. The children are not fostered out or adopted they grow up as a group. After finishing high school the children must give one year's service to the orphanage, if they wish to go onto university that education is paid for and once they are done school they owe two year's service. This idea of the kids growing up in family units, always having a place, belonging is just a good idea.
After the info session and Q&A we went back to the library until lunchtime. After lunch we toured the different houses. We went into the teenage girls home, boy they were typical teenage girls! They were doing each other's hair, the music was blaring. They showed us their rooms. Each house has a kitchen, a common area, two bathrooms and two "bedrooms" in each bedroom are several bunk beds, and each girl had this small area where they can hang clothes, a few shelves and somewhere fort their shoes. It was amazing to see these girls have all their possessions in such a small space. They were also allowed to decorate the wall above their bunk. I was a world away from home but there was Justin Beber on the walls! It doesn't matter where you are girls are girls!
Melki and I
Melki receiving his package
Next we went to the Toddler house, this was where were going to play with the kids, but they had just gone down for their nap. The Tias were wonderful and allowed us to quietly sneak in the bedrooms (set up the same as the girls) and see the little cuties sleeping. They were adorable. I had a special package to deliver to this house. After our visit there last year one of the ladies decided to sponsor a child. Her godchild is Melki and she gave me a envelope full of toys and treats for him and all the kids in his home. They were great to wake Melki from his nap so I could get a photo with him and give him his parcel. NPH will allow you to visit the child you sponsor... so yes these kids really do exist!
Playing hot potato with the boys
From the Toddler home we went to the special needs house, we had met these kids earlier in the day. Since we couldn't play with the toddlers we were given the option of either playing basketball with some of the teenagers or go to one of the boys homes. I opted to go see the boys where we got to play a version of "hot potato", it was hilarious! They had so much fun!
Play time was followed by reflection, it was fascinating the hear the other kids have the same observations and reactions as last year's group. Many of the comments were about how everyone we had met to that point were just so friendly and open. Also you could see and feel just how happy the children at NPH were despite having so little in terms of personal possessions.
After our activities at NPH we had a crazy drive into town to exchange our money. It was then back to hour families for a shower, dinner, a little bit of rest before heading to mass with the community.
Colmando Reyes the busiest place on the Malcome!
Making Shimmi's on the Malcome
Well that's it for day 2, stay tuned for day 3.