Extending My Service, Extending My Love
Macarena, a yearlong international volunteer from Chile, reflects on the experiences that led her to extend her commitment with NPH Honduras.
June 13, 2019 - Honduras
By the time we are in our sixth month in the NPH home, the popular question among volunteers is: "Will you extend?"
When I started as a volunteer, I was very aware that I was a foreigner. I remember saying "Wow, one year here is too long!"
However, one year in a lifetime is nothing. After six months, you start adapting to each area of your life. Eventually, this place becomes your new home, and the children, volunteers, and employees become your new friends and family.
During the day, I work as an occupational therapist. In my work, I spend time with children and their teachers and caregivers to try to understand what the children need and the best ways to make their care more effective. Later on, in the evening, I go to Casa Suyapa—the home for our youngest children—to spend time with girls ages five to six. My work there is to support the caregivers and, of course, play and share with the girls.
This has been the most beautiful part of my whole year; it's amazing how I get used to being with them. Even if I'm very tired, I know that those two hours of eating dinner with them and helping them go to be, can improve my day instantly.
I feel very lucky to share my time with them; I love to help them prepare to go to sleep, play, dance, and just hug them while we wait for the Friday night movie to start. It’s something that I wanted to repeat for much longer than just a year, which was the main factor in my decision to extend.
In addition to spending more time with my girls, my extension gave me the opportunity to start new projects, like yoga for caregivers and Chicas Poderosas (our long-running girls’ empowerment youth group, which I now help lead). The possibility of doing different things besides my assigned work is something that I appreciate very much. It motivates me to develop new skills and contribute in different ways.
Each person in this place can give you so much, but you must be able to really enjoy the experience. I love walking to work and meeting a group of children as they run at full speed to give me a hug (is there any better way to start your day?) or even having conversations with employees that can make me understand and reflect on things I hadn’t thought of before.
Something that has not changed after one year is that there will always be a child dancing "La Macarena" and waiting for me to do the same. My name has never been so popular!
In the end, our days are built based on the relationships we have with others. I think a year goes by so quickly, and we only get to know a part of this rich experience. Staying longer helps you dive deeper into people’s lives and allows them to explore yours. As people say, at the end of everything we are what we leave in people's hearts.
Children’s names have been changed to protect their privacy.