Testimony of one of our Canadian Volunteers who recently returned from her one year position.
Hello from Mexico!
My name is Oksana and I am spending a year volunteering as a communications officer at Nuestros Hermanos Pequeños in Cuernavaca, Mexico. NPH is an orphanage that opened in Cuernavaca 60 years ago and today has nine homes for children and young adults throughout Latin America. I have been here one month and so far so good! I lived a short time in Mexico City about 10 years ago and have been looking forward to returning and living in the country again – I love the food, climate, culture, celebrations and most of all the flora and fauna.
I have missed the sound of cumbia playing, the sight of bougainvillea cascading over walls and hibiscus blooming on the sidewalks, the smell of tortillas wafting through the air, the taste of just-squeezed lime juice over spicy salsa and the touch of skin warmed by the sun. I arrived in January with no expectations, except anticipating the warmth. Sure enough I was greeted by the freak cold snap the region has never experienced. I left balmy Toronto without my parka and long, warm socks, so layered on my summer clothing in the mornings and nights. Seems El Nino, pollution and climate change affect the temperature down south as well! It's a real wonder to experience it too. The locals bundled up in scarves, boots and warm jackets as they complained about the cold and joked I should be used to it, since I'm from Canada. It dropped to about three, four degrees Celsius at night and hovered around 11 degrees in the mornings. Everything is concrete, there is no central heating. But the sun warmed up the days to mid-20s. We're in the high 20s, touching 30 now.
I spent my first two weeks with three other volunteers - young women from the U.S., Costa Rica and Germany. We attended language school in the mornings to improve our Spanish and spent the afternoons orienteering - immersing ourselves into the orphanages, city and way of life.
There are five orphanages in Mexico - the one I'm at homes high-school teens and serves as the country’s administrative headquarters. In Miacatlan - a town about 40 minutes away - is the main orphanage for young children. There are also homes in Mexico for university students, special needs children and a new home near the Texas border.
I started my duties about two weeks ago - I spend the mornings in the office or out on assignments and the afternoons/evenings with the kids. I write articles, take photos and document events for the home and its parent organization, Nuestros Hermanos Pequeños International, and affiliates throughout the U.S. and Europe. When we celebrated Ash Wednesday, I went to the high school the kids attend, took photos of the service and wrote up an article for NPH's website (www.nph.org). The other day a request came in from NPH Austria - they are compiling their annual report and are including a page about Mexico. They wanted photos of kids at the new greenhouse. So I went to Miacatlan, which has a huge farm, and took pictures of two siblings who gave me a fantastic tour of the greenhouse. I also interviewed a fellow volunteer about her daily routine - teaching English and helping kids with their chores.
When not writing and picture taking, I spend my time with the kids - serve lunch and dinner, clean up the kitchen after meals, help with English homework and attend the daily activities. Zumba and dance class are my favourites right now, there's also volleyball, soccer, track and boxing. I take the girls to Girl Guides on Saturdays, took a group of kids to the orthodontist the other day.
I play Frisbee with kids during downtime; have my hair braided or my smartphone hijacked by selfie-taking girls. We chit chat about life, where we come from, where we are going. We're all curious about one another. The kids come from various parts of Mexico. Some open up to me, some don't. I tell them about Toronto, Canada and how my family emigrated from Ukraine during the Second World War. They are amazed and get a kick out of me speaking Ukrainian and French and English. We swap words - exchanging and learning new ones in all the languages we speak. We talk about food. I tell them how trendy Mexican food has become in Toronto! Taco restaurants everywhere! They share cookies with me and funky chili sauce-coated chips. Every one of them asks if I like tacos. Of course I do! That's the reason I am here, I tell them. They love it!
I had no idea what it would be like living and working at an orphanage ... no expectations ... it feel like summer camp! I'm at a Mexican kid's camp for year! And when I say summer camp, I refer to that special, magical place created to enrich the lives of children. And it feels great. I feel a peace and tranquility, I have never felt before - or rather I may have, back when I was kid at summer camp decades ago, simply living in the moment. I've given into the notion of living in a children's orphanage in Mexico and it's easy. Mind you, it's just my first month into the year, but so far, so good.
Making a Difference One Life at a Time.
The Friends International Volunteer Program sends qualified individuals, couples and families to support the staff and children living in the homes of Nuestros Pequeños Hermanos. Click HERE to view the Travel Form.
As a volunteer, you will:
- Impact children's lives.
- Play an integral role in the growing NPH family.
- Provide encouragement and support to those who need it most.
- Improve your Spanish, French or Creole skills.
- Live in and experience a foreign culture.
- Make friends with volunteers from around the world.
Friends Of The Orphans - Canada 392 Silvercreek Parkway North Suite #3 Guelph ON, N1H 1E7Toll free: 1-844-393-FOTO (3686) Telephone: 519-763-9560Fax: 519-763-8306General Inquiries: email@example.comSponsorship: firstname.lastname@example.org Finance: email@example.com