(Czech Republic) - Tía in Honduras
July 29, 2011 - Honduras
A year and a half ago I bought a plane ticket to Honduras. The idea of spending thirteen months in Latin America, getting to know another culture, learning Spanish, and playing with small kids seemed really cool to me. Some of my expectations about volunteering at NPH were correct, some were changed throughout the year and some were just completely wrong. After being in Honduras for one year, I can say that I understand a little bit more about the culture here, I visited many places in Honduras, I can communicate in Spanish and my work with children is always surprising.
My work as a tía in Casa Suyapa, home to our smallest children, included taking care of 7-10 kids from 0 to 4 years old. Although I had previously worked with children as a babysitter, an absolutely new experience for me was taking care of small children with special needs. My first days in Casa Suyapa were really hard for me. Taking care of two children is something completely different from trying to simultaneously feed a baby his milk, prevent a boy from eating play dough, and worrying about 2 children who suddenly disappeared, while 4 screaming girls jump around you–all while still in beginning phases of learning Spanish.
Soňa has a snack with Fernando and Natalia
The romantic vision I had about playing outside the whole day with children quickly changed to the reality of washing dirty diapers by hand, cleaning out milk bottles, ironing school uniforms, polishing shoes, preparing children for kindergarten, going with them to medical visits, etc. But then one day everything started to change. When you get used to the everyday chaos, you realize that this small “zoo” is the most beautiful place on the world. You figure out how to manage stressful situations, find a way to communicate through language barriers and play with all those small “monkeys.” Then when you finally have your free weekend, you realize that you are missing the kids.
There are some moments as a volunteer that will stay in your memory forever and remind you of why you are doing this. There is nothing more beautiful than 8 children running to you, screaming your name, and giving you hugs and kisses. You know they trust you when they hurt their knee and come to you because they know you will help them, or when they think of you by sharing their sweets. You won’t forget how they try to help you with your work, how they ask you to put them to bed and give them a goodnight kiss, or how they explain (or scream over each other) what they did today in kindergarten. It is really funny to observe three and four year old girls dancing punta, singing reggaeton hits, baking cakes from sand, or acting as other tíos and tías. The biggest satisfaction for me was to see that the children learned something from me, and my year here meant more for them than just “killing time with a volunteer.”
In the end I have to say that it was the most intensive experience in my entire life. From my volunteer year, I got to know not only the culture and life in Central America, but also discovered other sides of myself. Thank you for this opportunity.