A window into daily life at the ranch
July 23, 2009 - Honduras
Sindy’s day starts early as she and the other twenty-four 4th and 5th grade girls in her hogar (home) get ready for school. Each girl showers and pulls her wet hair back in neat pigtails or braids. After taking a shower, Sindy dresses in her school uniform: black shoes, olive green dress pants and a collared uniform shirt.
All of the girls from the youngest three hogars gather in a large dining room for a breakfast of rice and beans. Sitting around picnic tables organized by hogar, Sindy eats her breakfast while laughing and joking with her friends. They know each other so well that there are often few boundaries between them: though each has her own belongings, they often voluntarily share clothes, shoes and games. When it comes to food, it is rare for anyone not to finish her entire helping; however, the girls offer anything they do not finish to their friends instead of throwing it away.
Sindy outside the school computer lab
The school day begins at 7:30 and 20 boys and girls file into the classroom. Here the fourth graders from Sindy’s hogar mix with the fourth graders from the boys’ homes. Sindy’s teacher Roberto calls for silence and classes begin.
At 10:30, the class breaks for recess. Sindy sits and chats with her friends while munching on a slice of watermelon, today’s snack. They watch as other students play a quick game of soccer or play on the playground nearby. Sindy is joined at her post by her younger sister Celena, who is in the second grade. Since they are close in age, they see each other often but do not always get to spend a lot of time together. Celena takes this opportunity to sit with her sister, who she obviously looks up to. Sindy does not seem bothered by her sister’s presence among her friends and Celena is not at all intimidated by them.
Recess ends with the sound of a bell. Sindy spends the rest of the school day studying the indigenous people of Central America, the conjugation of the verb “to be” in English and the use of Microsoft Word.
At 1 pm, Sindy walks leisurely up to the hogar, changes out of her uniform and puts on jeans and her favorite shirt. All 25 girls wash their uniforms to make sure they are clean for the next day. A tia (caregiver) checks to make sure the uniform was not left dirty before serving lunch. Although lunch is the biggest meal of the day at the ranch, today it is very informal. The girls sit around the courtyard to eat, enjoying the midday sun and taking their time to enjoy the meal.
Once Sindy has finished lunch and cleaned her dish, she works on homework and chores. Each child has an individual chore to complete in addition to the work that each hogar contributes to the maintenance of the ranch as a whole. When this work is done for the day, Sindy and her friends play Uno, animatedly playing their hand, but not dwelling on loss or victory.
At dinner time, volunteers and visitors join the girls to share the meal and spend time with them before bed. Sindy eats her scrambled eggs, cheese and tortillas amidst the sound of many chattering voices. When the meal is over, the girls gather in the hogar where they dance, play games or make beaded bracelets.
At 8 pm, the visitors and volunteers leave and it is time for bed. Twenty-five girls putting away games, brushing teeth, taking medicine, and changing into pajamas can be somewhat chaotic, but when the girls climb into bed it quiets down surprisingly fast. After a long day, the girls are tired and ready for some well-deserved rest.