Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Reflections, Perceptions

I am back! I had an extraordinary trip, and learned so much! The trip was everything I expected and more. I am so thankful and grateful for this opportunity. Nicaragua is such a beautiful country, filled with beautiful people! I sincerely loved volunteering, and I know I will do much more in the future.  My team was awesome, we grew so close! This service trip was absolutely amazing.

The last few days, we were rewarded for our hard work. We took a ferry to an island, where we hiked to a gorgeous waterfall and went zip lining. We watched Ms. Lisa-Marie’s boyfriend, Brody, surf, and went swimming. We went deep sea fishing and traveled all around Nicaragua. While driving around, it was cool to see how the majority Nicaraguans lived. As we drove further from Rivas, the homes grew farther apart and each house began to have their own well and washboards! As we drove along, we handed out soccer balls to children. It warmed my heart to see children’s’ faces burst when receiving a soccer ball!  

I learned many things from the trip, but one, very important lesson stuck out in my mind. Perception is everything. How you choose to see and experience things sticks with you forever. I think that perception was a major factor on this trip. When driving across the country, and doing home visits, your perception was outstandingly important. Are you going to see this home as a Vail local, or a volunteering, caring student? Are you going to compare a child’s home to your own, or value the little things, medications and strollers, that they are able to afford? My perception was my reality. I now look at all things I used to take advantage of, with changed eyes. This trip was forever life changing.

I thank Children’s Global Alliance for this experience. I loved Nicaragua and all the volunteer work and heartwarming, breath taking moments I was granted on this service trip!!!

Friday, August 3, 2012

Final, Important Days at Escuela Especial

Day 6: Today, I completed my last home visit with a very enthusiastic translator and social service worker. After, I went to the school where I found myself working in numerous classrooms. I went to visit Axel, a boy with CP. When first arriving to Axel’s house, I was very hopeful. Although living in a one roomed shack, the mom looked very welcoming. I was wrong. Axel goes to a public school, but can’t pass the second grade.  He is enrolled at this public school because his mom doesn’t want the other kids at Escuela Especial to “dumb him down”. Axel is hit repeatedly in the head by his father, 18 year old sister, and grandmother. This poor ten year old boy is not only bullied crucially at school but abused at home. The mother was crying, embarrassed by her decisions, but she wanted to begin giving Axel a better life. We invited Axel to the party at the school tomorrow, to preview and possibly decided to enroll Axel at Escuela Especial.
                When returning back to Escuela Especial, I helped in the 3rd grade room and the Yahoska’s classroom. At around 11:45 am, I could tell the kids were getting bored and tired. I decided to begin playing with them. We counted how many times we could spin around! Without knowing, the kids were learning! Seeing the kids laugh brought joy to my heart! They’ve given me so much!
Day 7: Party! Today was our last day working with the kids at Escuela Especial! In celebration of our visit, we threw a wonderful party!
                I was so pleased when I saw Rosa, Estiban, Marison, and Axel at the party! We gave out clothes, to the teachers and students!  We gave the children an amazing meal and had piƱatas full of any child’s favorite thing, CANDY!! At the end of the party, we surprisingly received gifts from the families at Escuela Especial. I was granted at beautiful, one of a kind, candle holder. It was engraved by students at Escuela Especial, illustrating beautiful pictures of Nicaraguan culture. After the party, we went to another party at Carmen Margarita’s house. Here,  we all danced like Nicaraguans and enjoyed well spent time with the teachers and each other.
It’s amazing, the bond you build with children over the course of seven days. They will forever hold a place in my heart! Volunteering at the school has truly changed me as a person. The  kids are all so special and beautiful!!

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Days Full of Home Visits!

Day 4: Instead of going to the school in the early morning, I got the opportunity to go to four homes with a translator, Dennis, and two teachers. One being, Carmen Margarita, the psychical therapist. It was extraordinary. Some homes were absolutely trashed, while others were fairly clean. In each house, we delivered a bag of highly needed food and soaps. After, I helped Douglas and Ms. Gutmann in 3rd grade.
            The first house I went to was Marison’s house. Marison, her sister, and Mom shared a crowded, small room. Marison, a small, skinny, fragile, two year old girl was asleep on her mother when we first arrived. They were staying in the mother’s cousin’s home. The cousin had three, beautiful girls and a husband who was at work.  The cousin’s family slept in one room and Marison and her mother slept in the other. The whole family shared a total of three bathrooms.
            The second home was cleaner, belonging to the gorgeous, 11 month, Jorge. Jorge has cerebral palsy and two knots in the back of his neck. The mother, Maricela, and brother were home. The house was clean, having a music player a TV, a bathroom, and 2 bedrooms. The four family members slept in a room together.
            The third house belonged to Rosa. Her grandmother and grandfather took care of her. Rosa’s mother, age 16, and father bolted when they found out that Rosa was disabled. Apparently, in Nicaragua, it is a curse for your child to have disabilities. The grandmother, takes of care of her husband, three children, and a few grandchildren, she is absolutely amazing. They all sleep in the same, tight room.
            Joan was the child in the last home. Sadly, Joan was at the hospital for a week, doing a checkup. Joan also has CP and has been treated by Escuela Especial for five months. Joan had a beautiful house and loving family members. I wish I could have seen him, but I was reassured because I know Joan is loved and responsibly being taken care of.
            These homes were definitely rough, but I know that the children were loved. It was great seeing how people live here. Their lifestyles are based off of simplicity, it is so different than America, and I love it. All of the kids I saw today have bright, amazing futures and extraordinary support by their parents and grandparents.

Day 5: Yesterday, I went to four homes, witnessing psychical therapy checkups, today was different. In the afternoon, I went with the Nicaraguan Social Services to three homes. In each home we met the family and checked how each kid was being treated. I went to these three houses with Ms. Lisamarie, Kevin, Sarah (our translator), and the social services worker.  
            The first house we went to was Rosa’s house. I immediately felt much more comfortable and secure, knowing that I’ve been here before. This time, the beautiful Rosa, was taking her daily nap on the couch. Today, I learned that she can’t afford somacina, a medicine that allows you to stop seizing and allow oxygen to go into the brain. Instead, Rosa took ValPro Acid which helped the seizing, but the oxygen flow. Her grandmother, like yesterday, was very grateful and welcoming.
            The second house went to was to visit the three year old boy, Estiban. Turns out his birthday was yesterday, Happy Birthday. Estiban was a premature baby with CP. He, like Rosa, take ValPro Acid because he can’t afford somacina. He is the only child, and it was obvious that he was very loved by his whole family. Estiban had a contagious smile and long, gorgeous eyelashes. He has an amazing future!
            The last house had me holding back tears. This two room shack belonged to the 14 year old, Milagro. She was very mal nourished and has severe CP. She is no long able to move her feet and wrists. Her mother, Maria, was embarrassed, ashamed, and regretful for taking her out of psychical therapy. Milagro hasn’t been taking medications and was recently in the hospital for throwing up blood. However, there is luck. With enough PT, she might be able to get some movement back.
            When looking at Milagro, I felt so helpless, more than I have ever been. I continue to have a pit in my stomach; it just isn’t fair. If the mother took better care of her, Milagro could easily be walking. My heart has sunk; I am so blown away by the mother’s selfish acts. Milagro could comprehend everything we said to her, she was very intellectual. But because of her mother’s low expectations and unfaithfulness, she wastes her life sitting in a rocking chair. Luckily, her mother asked us to contact the school, asking for psychical therapy. By saying this, I trusted and respected the mother a little more, but I am still in disbelief of her horrible actions. Now, I can only hope and pray that Milagro’s life begins to get better.
            I promise I will never forget any of these kids, especially Milagro. I can now look at things coming from a different side of things. So far, this trip has changed me so much. I’ve seen horrible things and wonderful things; I can’t wait to see what the rests of the trip holds. I am so, so happy to be here, this is where I need to be!

Monday, July 30, 2012

The First Day at the School

Day 3: Today went by so fast! It was our first day at the school and it was incredible. I definitely was nervous, but once I was in the classroom all of my nerves vanished. Before the trip, I got the opportunity to study about the disability of deafness, so I was able to work with the deaf children today.
            For the first part of the school day, I work with deaf children, ages 12 and 13, who were placed in the second and fourth grades. Their class was set up extraordinarily; the teacher would write both second and fourth grade lessons on the board, both being about the same topic. For Example: There would be an advanced short story written for the fourth graders, and easier, matching assignment set up for the second graders.
For the second part of the school day, I worked with deaf boys, ages 14 and 15, who were placed in the 5th and 6th grades. When assisting here, I was able to learn some new signs and share a little bit about myself. In this classroom, I was granted a name in sign language. It is an M on my cheek, supposedly because I have red cheeks.  I love the deaf children I was able to work with; they communicate beautifully and their laughs fill my heart with joy! At the end of the day, we handed out the bags to each child, witnessing tons of faces light up. The first day at the school was successful, and I can’t wait for tomorrow.
The second part of the day, Maddie, Kevin, and I went to the market and a fun clothing store! When returned back to the hotel, Ms.Gutmann led us in a yoga class. Tomorrow, I am going to be joining the school’s psychical therapist in home visits. I am very thankful to be here, there is so much help needed in the school!!

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Our First Weekend in Nicaragua

Day 1: Today was obviously the first day, and I obviously thought I would be extremely tired, but I wasn’t. I was so excited to be in Rivas and helping in the school. Because it’s a Saturday, the children weren’t at school. The teachers, however, were. A team of generous and amazing teachers came in, welcoming us as one of the first groups to ever volunteer at Escuela Especial. While there, we cleaned bathrooms, classrooms, the kitchen, and fields of trash. It was so fulfilling cleaning the woodshop classroom; it hasn’t been cleaned for seven years. Knowing that the children and teacher will be very thankful grateful for their clean school made it mean even more.
            While cleaning, I had time to think. I thought about why I was here, the initial goal for today and the overall goal for the whole trip. I concluded that my goal for today was to show the teachers and kids at the school that we are trustworthy people that are here to help as much as possible. I also concluded that my goal for the trip was to not only enhance my life, but more importantly, to change and help everyone I encounter. I am representing Vail, CGA, and America. I know it is a big responsibility, but it is one I am willing and honored to take.
            I am so privileged, thrilled, blessed, and happy to be here. I am filled with curiosity and excitement for the life changing week ahead.

Day 2: Today we prepared bags of rice, beans, noodles, cookies, soap, floss, toothpaste, toothbrushes, scrubs, and only for each child. We also organized our donation bags. Douglas and I got to go to a busy, fun Nicaraguan grocery store.
            It was so amazing to see all the donations. It was shocking to see how many donations can fit into ten or so bags. There were so manyclothes, school supplies, and computer parts that will surely change children at the school lifestyles.
            At the market, Douglas and I filled 180 pounds of beans, and went on a hunt for fruit. We successfully filled seven, 25 pounds each, bags. It was the busiest, most buzzing grocery I’ve ever been to, I loved it.
            I can now truly appreciate everyone’s donations, I thank you deeply. I am so appreciative and thankful for your support.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Ten Days!!!!

Only ten, short days until I am on a plane ride to Nicaragua!!! I've seen two groups of amazing people journey to Cambodia,and now it's my turn to be changed by Nicaragua. This summer has been full of fun, and the service trip I will embark on has been on my mind the whole time!!!! I am so blessed to be traveling with an extraordinary group of people, I can't wait to see how everyone is changed during this trip. If you would like to follow the rest of Team Nicaragua,here are their blog urls!



Thank you everyone who has supported me in going on this trip!! I am so thankful for all you've done for me.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

And the Trips Begin.......

       I am so exicted to be a part of CGA. Since December, all student volunteers have grown closer and have become great friends. And as I look at my dear friend AJ, I see her bubbling with excitement. She is on the first trip to Cambodia and is overflowing with hope for her trip. Sitting here, in a classroom of extremely fortunate people, I know that a small group of us, AJ,Alex,Makena, and myself, will really understand everthing that we are granted on a daily basis. Even tough the Nicargua Service Trip isn't until late July, I am already seeing peoples' lives change. This summer will surely change all of our lives, and I am so enthusiastic about the trips that will change our lives.