Two whole posts in a week?! I think I’m breaking a personal record here. I thought it’d be good to give a proper account of the two projects that I have so far embarked upon in Yunguilla and in the day care centre for disabled children.
Yunguilla is the most beautiful, serene, idyllic place I have ever laid eyes on. When I first arrived I really couldn’t see the whole cloud forest thing going on: it was a clear morning and the view stretched for miles all the way to the mountains; however by noon the clouds had rolled in letting Yunguilla to live up to its name.
I worked with two friends, Connie and George; our days generally consisted of a range of activities: watering plants in the orchard, planting seeds, sweeping paths, assisting tourists and teaching in the school. On one of the days we had a trip into the cloud forest to find seedlings and take them back to the nursery; here they began the long term process of being nurtured until they reached the required stage that would enable them to survive, when they would be replanted in the forest.
The school was really tiny, with 3 teachers and 12 kids. There were 3 classes: the first was made up of of 3 – 6 year olds, the second were ages 7 – 9 and the oldest class went up to 14. Teaching English was fun and the children eager to learn – the teachers encouraged us to teach the youngest class outside as they were very energetic!
Our time there coincided with the national holiday of carnaval. On the last school day Connie and I were ambushed by screaming kids (and screaming teachers!) with cans of spray foam and tubs of water. Sadly I was in no state to take photos of that crazy day! All I can say is that literally everyone here takes carnaval to heart. I´ve lost count of the number of times I´ve been drenched on the street by passing cars!
Yunguilla is such a small place I don´t really know what to call it except a community. Everyone is related in some way or another – a bit like the Scottish highlands! – and everyone knows everyone. Houses are scattered along a long road, some hidden behind trees and up hills.
In truth, there really wasn´t much to do in our spare time. Sometimes we would get off work at 3pm with the whole afternoon to spare! The three of us had many, many walks. We also found out how the younger ones managed to spend their time: by swinging. Everywhere we went we would find swings; some were small but others swung right into the landscape high into the clouds – which isn´t actually that daunting considering that Yunguilla is set in a cloud forest.
Working with the children at the day care centre is a totally different world. The place is called ABEI: Amigas Benefactores de Enfermos Incurables (Benefactors of Terminally Ill Friends). I feel really needed here, as the kids are quite demanding and there are only three nurses to take care of them. With the other volunteers, we take care of one kid each for the day, feeding and playing with them and making sure they´re happy.
Although the work is tiring and sometimes emotional seeing the kids so helpless, I feel like I´m making a huge difference. The atmosphere is so warm and the nurses are really caring. It´ll be sad leaving such a great place next week! But of course I´m really looking forward to starting at La Hesperia, where I´ll be doing the work I came here to do. Until next time!