Childcare (Tio/Caregiver in our youngest home) from Dec 31, 2017 - 1 job for 13 months in NPH Honduras.
The work as a caretaker for the kids (here we call them “tíos” and “tías” which means “uncles” and “aunts”) is the most common volunteer job and it is our most basic need. Most houses have an employee and a volunteer working in each section. Part of the work is taking care of the basic needs of the kids, waking them up, getting them ready for school, supervising their chores, helping them with their homework, playing with them, going on excursions, putting them to bed, talking to them, and creating a family environment.
The work differs very much from section to section. The smaller kids will require constant supervision throughout the day. The older kids might seem very independent and they often do their homework on their own as much as they can. However, they need to talk a lot as they are at a difficult age. The tíos and tías act as parents wherever they work, providing the children with a sense of stability. It is important to show the children that they are loved and that you will support them. Don’t forget that most of our children have had traumatic experiences in their lives prior to coming to NPH. This means that they often need special support and understanding. Always set a good example by being optimistic. They need self-confidence and they will gain it if you show your appreciation for them.
Being a tía in the Babies house is very different from being a tío or a tía with the older kids. Our babies' section consists of different groups of children aged from a few months or days up to 5 years. Tías in the baby section usually work from 6:30 in the morning to 7:00 at night. Work consists of fulfilling all the basic needs the kids might have, such as waking the kids up, showering them, taking them to the bathroom, dressing them, cooking for them, helping them eat, playing with them and much more. Once a month each tía has to stay for the night to take care of the kids. Working in the baby section is very hard as the kids need your full attention every second. Many of them have had traumatic experiences and need special attention. If you are interested in working in the babies section you should have Spanish skills, experience in working with (small) children and a lot of initiative (activities must be organized).
Some of the children are diagnosed HIV+. To keep our kids and our staff safe we organize talks and meetings on the issues of HIV and AIDS. By providing the necessary information risks are reduced to a minimum.
As a tío or tía, show creativity and initiative. Do activities with your children. Remember to always be flexible. The kids can be very finicky about what they like and don’t like to do. Things that may have annoyed or bored you after minutes can fascinate them for hours. Be aware that over-structuring and over-organizing may lead to frustration and that it is always easier to start with a small group instead of the whole section.
Taking care of the children is not a full-time job, it is more than that. Your hours will be longer than any office hours you have ever worked. It is also very, very rewarding. Always keep in mind that the kids already come from a family. They have a daily routine which was set out before you got there. Go easy at first, until you understand the system.