Sunday, January 31, 2010

"All things through thee take nobler form..."

I have been so, so sick. There is a really nasty virus going through the house and am glad to finally be through the worst of it. It was the first time that I wished I was home. It's hard to be that sick and be in a foreign place.

Tonight, I think I will write about Dilan. Dilan is a boy that I work with in Casas and he is absolutely darling. He is a very independent little guy and his favorite words are "ciao" and "gato." He is much smaller than most of the other kids he lives with and somedays he just has a tough time. The other day he was just standing in his room, crying endlessly. It was bedtime, so the situation was already stressful and I was on the verge of freaking out. Without explanation, I stopped what I was doing and watched the big tears roll down his cheeks. Suddenly could not keep myself from picking him up and hugging him as tight as I could. Dilan's mother recently passed away after losing a battle with cancer and his father is in prison. He laid his head on my shoulder and I sang him a song. He calmed down and was unusually still. It was just for a moment, but for that moment, he was secure and comforted. It was a moment when he didn't need to cry or fight for what he needed. I wished so badly that I had the time and the resources to always be there, every single moment, for all of the kids. I want to give them the consistency and companionship that they deserve. But I am just one person and for now, I can only give them small moments. It's bittersweet.

Something else I wanted to write about. I have watched two kiddos in the past few weeks meet their new parents for the first time. These people come to the orphanage offering their love and their lives to these kids that so desperately need it. When I watch these adoptive mothers with their sons, I can't help but wish it was me taking one of these children home with me. It's a feeling I have never experienced before and I know that I want it to be me someday, to take a child out of a horrible situation and give them stability. Its not a juvenile or fleeting feeling that will fade with the passing of time. I know I want to do this. It is a goal I have set for myself and I cannot wait for the day I can make it happen.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Arroz con leche, me quirro casar...

Interesting things that happened today:

1. Bought carbonated water...interesting.

2. My roommate just walked in with the biggest carrot I've ever seen.

3. I successfully made my first breakfast casserole and ate it for lunch and dinner.

4. I taught Santi the "spiderman song." He has a spiderman hat and shirt. Spiderman, spiderman does whatever a spider can...

5. Had dinner with eight two-year-olds, put them in pjs, brushed their teeth, sang them songs, put them to bed. Whew.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

People are actually reading this!?

It makes me so happy to find out that there are a few out there following this! Many thanks for your support!

Today was my assigned picture day at Cunas (the baby orphanage). It was fun. The kids are fascinated by the camera and like to see pictures of themselves. They are all so darling, even though they bite each other. There is one girl named Anna Cristina who bites more than any child I've ever been around. She is known for it. We can usually catch her before she actually bites because all the other kids know what she is going to do and they start screaming in terror. Time out for the kids is going to their cuna (crib) but she loves her cuna. All of her little deeds are done with an irresistible smile.

Something else about Cunas: all of the kids here wear cloth diapers. Joy. It saves money but they are very troublesome. I'm getting pretty good at tying them though. I really hope this is a skill that I will only need for the next two months.

Also, I wanted to write tonight about Diana. Diana is a twenty seven year old woman who lives in the special needs home called Esperanza (hope). She has a degenerative disease (of which I cannot remember the name) but basically her mind is deteriorating more and more as time goes on and it breaks my heart. Her mother passed away a few years ago from the same condition. Before her disease, she was in a perfectly normal state and now she cannot walk or communicate much. But she can smile. I love her smile. She has become very childlike. She loves it when I do her hair and loves to give me kisses. I often find myself thinking about her throughout the day. I think about what little control we actually have over our lives. Diana makes me want to be better. She helps me realize that I need to learn to be happy and not to worry so much. I found a photo album in her closet and after she was ready for bed, I looked through it with her. She grinned and pointed and laughed. There were pictures of her as a child with her twin sister (who does not have this disease). It made me happy and sad.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Bad food :(

There are about seven girls in our group that have been throwing up for the past two days.:( I was very sympathetic but very glad it wasn't me until last night when I, too was throwing up. Ah. We still aren't quite sure what it was. But I'm feeling a bit better now. Other than that, things are going great. We get our assignments next week which means that I will be assigned to one group of kids that I will take care of everyday instead of rotating around the different orphanages. It will be nice to have consistency with the kids.

I just have to write about my roommate, Kristina because I love her so much. She is from Denmark so she has been having to make an even bigger adjustment than the rest of us. But she is always very positive and is probably the sweetest person I've ever met. Also, she laughs really hard at my jokes, which is nice. :) She doesn't speak any Spanish so she has been trying really hard to learn. The other day, she was trying to get three boys to use the bathroom before bed. She took them into the bathroom, pointed at the toilet and said "beso." The boys just started laughing at her and she became a little frustrated that they weren't listening. She continued to point at the toilet and say beso, beso, beso. The boys just laughed and laughed. She soon realized that the word she should have been using was bano and that she had been telling them to kiss the toilet. It's a good thing they aren't always obedient.

Interesting things that have happened:
1. I've realized that I love fried bananas.
2. The kids at Los Pequeñitos love to listen to Michael Jackson and one of the workers there asked me to explain what "beat it" means.
3. I was very startled by a man in a mask while eating in a restaurant.
4. My toothbrush fell in the toilet :(
5. The kids love it when I rock them while singing "You are my Sunshine." It makes them happy when skies are grey. When they want me to sing it, they run up to me and say "soy tu bebe" which means, "I'm you're baby."

- Erin

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Te Amo

What a good day. Seriously. I am completely exhausted. We have been working in the orphanages for nine hours every day. But I wouldn’t have it any other way. I put the kids in their pajamas at the end of the day and I return the next morning to help them get dressed. There is one little boy that I am madly in love with. His name is Santi. He is three years old and has the sweetest little smile. He loves to sing a song called “te amo” (I love you). He has had a hard time remembering my name until today. I was helping some other kids into their pjs when I heard a little voice yelling “ERIN! ERIN!” He was looking through the gate on the porch calling for me. My heart has never melted faster. When I was leaving, he sat up in his bed and asked if I was coming back tomorrow. Best feeling ever.
Interesting things that happened today:

1.I also worked in a home for handicapped teenagers today. I’ve been there several times now and I really like it. There is one boy named Louis who is autistic and he always pushes me. Today I pushed him back to see what would happen and he laughed. Later, he grabbed me and kissed my cheek. Also, I had to stop him from throwing away the remote control. He does that a lot.

2.I found out that although Ecuador uses the US dollar, they use 50 cent pieces. Huh.

3.Every night there are star wars-like shooting noises outside my window. Still haven’t figured out what it is.

4.I was considering brushing my teeth with the tap water. We aren’t supposed to drink it but I didn’t know if it was safe to brush with. I asked a fellow volunteer and she said it should be ok because the parasites on your toothbrush will die after eight hours. I don’t think I need to say what my decision was.

5.At the handicapped home, I noticed a big painting on the wall of Christ with some children. I looked closer and realized the kids in the painting were the kids in the home with whom I was working.

6.There are bed bugs here. I am tempted to wear my footie pajamas every night.

7.My roommate is from Denmark and she taught me how to say hello in Danish…hi.

8.I ate monkey brains for breakfast. It’s a yummy fruit.

9.Taxi drivers get mad when you don’t pay them what they want.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

A New Year!

Happy New Year! What a crazy year it is so far! It has not been anything like last year, or any year of my life, actually. But I am so glad. I have to say that 2009 was, by far, the worst year of my life and I am happy to step aside and let 2010 sweep in.

Today was the first day in the orphanages and it was quite an experience. The kiddos were great, but I’m not going to lie and say that the day was sugar and spice and everything nice. The orphanages are short staffed which means that they rely on the volunteers just to function. We are not just playing games and braiding hair. We are brushing teeth, changing diapers, potty training, bathing, dressing, breaking up fights…the list goes on and on. I am exhausted. I have been kicked and spit on and told “no” more than I can count. But over the course of the day there were quiet moments with the kids that made it worth it, like when one little girl “Veronica” could not believe that my eyes were real. She stared and stared and when I spoke to her she couldn’t believe I had blue eyes AND could speak Spanish.

A list of things that happened today which stand out to me:

1.I rode in a taxi to get to one of orphanages and quite nearly peed myself out of fear. (The drivers son locos aqui.)

2.The looks on the kids faces when they realized I could understand what they were saying.

3.A four year old named Junior who kicked and screamed when anyone came near but finally warmed up and wanted to sit on my lap and be “mi bebe” for the rest of the day.

4.I told a five year old girl “Andréa” que su pelo es bonito (she has pretty hair). She responded with “tu pelo es feo porque tu pelo es morado” (you have ugly hair because your hair is purple). ;) I told her my little sister’s name is Andrea as well. She liked that.

5.Looking down and seeing my “love life, be brave” ring from Kristen. Love it.

- Erin