Settling in is part of the process

The Ranch's newest Tia reflects on her first months with NPH.
August 24, 2016 - Honduras

Lauren outside during free time with the girls.

Life as a volunteer at NPH Honduras is quite different than the life I am accustomed to in the United States. The diet is very different (a lot of rice and beans), the schedule is different (I wake up at 5 a.m. and go to sleep at 9 p.m.), the scenery is different (a mountain vista is never far away), and of course the people are different. However, these stark differences are what make my experience as a volunteer so meaningful.

Adjusting to life on the ranch has been both difficult and rewarding. My first weeks at NPH Honduras consisted of getting to know the children, meeting important administrators on the ranch, getting tours of nearly every building and house here, and doing a lot of paperwork. Volunteer orientation prepared me to leave behind my life in the U.S. and integrate myself into the routine and lifestyle here in Honduras. Once orientation ended and I began what will be my job for the next year, I was truly forced to adjust to life away from home.

I work as a tía, or caregiver, in Casa Suyapa, which is the house for the youngest children on the ranch. I care for the children ages 0 to 5 years old, and all of which are known as the babies of the ranch. My first days as a tía were both intimidating and exciting. I attempted to absorb and learn as much information as possible, though it was challenging. I struggled for several days to just learn the names of the children. Furthermore, the children did not immediately trust me, and some days, they would not even let me come near them. Fortunately the other tías were very welcoming and encouraging during my first days. They assured me that once I adjusted to the job a bit more and once the children spent more time with me, I would see how truly beautiful and rewarding working as a tía can be.

Sure enough, after a few weeks, I began to feel like an important part of the children’s lives, and also realized how quickly the children had become important to me. Now, when I wake up in the morning, I am so eager to arrive at Casa Suyapa and give them all a buenos días hug. Additionally, I now feel confident performing all the basic tasks of my job such as feeding the children, bathing them, and putting them to sleep.

Though the initial phase of adjustment to life as a volunteer is over, I still have a lot to learn and a lot of relationships to nurture. I am excited for my future at NPH because I realize that if I feel so close to the children and the whole NPH family after only two months, I will have even more meaningful relationships with them at the end of my year here. I am grateful for the support and encouragement of my coworkers and fellow volunteers during this first chapter of my journey. I know they will continue to support me, and I know that the children will continue to give me their love and friendship. Though leaving one’s home, friends, and family is never easy, it is not too difficult when the alternative is working as a tía for the babies at NPH Honduras.

Lauren Pach   
Tia/Caregiver, Casa Suyapa




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