Friday, June 22, 2012

Silly putty and a milk party!

So many exciting things have happened since we last posted! 

We are just loving getting to spend more individual time with the residents and getting to know more of them each day. I wish we had enough room to tell you about everything that has happened, but since we don't, we will highlight some of the big and fun events. :) 

Bri, a special education teacher from Illinois who has volunteered at the Hogar several times, arrived last week and the kids have loved getting to see her again! Unfortunately, she is only able to be here 3 weeks, but she sure has done a lot for us and the residents in the short time she has been here! She brought Theraputty, and it needed to be stored in smaller containers, so some of the residents helped us with that task while having one of our game nights in the Comedor, but we had a little fun with it in the process :) 

I think we could start an Auntie Anne's pretzel shop out here with Carlos' skills :)

Last week, a local milk company came in and threw one big fiesta! There was milk, popcorn, and music (of course!). And, with music, comes dancing and singing...and lots of it! The residents had a blast stealing the microphone for dramatic solos, and stealing the dance floor to show off some moves.

If there's anyone who loves dancing, it's this girl, Blanca. If there is the smallest trace of music in the area, she will stop what she's doing and throw her arms up and dance...lunch, dinner, anytime! She was definitely in her element at this fiesta. :)

This is Bri, the other volunteer with us for a few weeks. 

We had a good balance of dancing and taking breaks to chat, laugh, and make silly faces. 

 Nahum loves to give sneak attack kisses when the camera is around!


This was such a fun moment when Anita was sitting on the bench, and she turned around and noticed us behind her. Her smile tripled in size and she quickly got up to dance with us. She was beaming the whole time!

 Alonso, striking a pose once again. :)

We also have accomplished quite a bit of painting, so hopefully pictures of that will be up soon. The residents and workers love how much life it brings, so we are excited to show you when it's done!

We'll be posting again soon! :)

Sara and Melissa

Monday, June 4, 2012

We're here!

We've been meaning to post introductions for a while now, but better late than never! :)

My name is Sara Romans, and I’m a senior at Missouri State University. Next spring (2013), I will have my bachelor’s degree in Special Education, and soon after will be receiving my master’s in Autism Spectrum Disorders. I also am a paraprofessional for the special education department at a high school in Missouri. I’m hoping to be able to use my college and work experience to benefit the niños! The past 3 summers I’ve worked on staff at Camp Barnabas, a special needs camp for children and adults in Purdy, Missouri and absolutely loved it.

One of my friends who volunteered here at the Hogar last summer (Bridgette) posted on Facebook in early January that the Hogar needed volunteers this summer. I had never heard of this place, but one look at the blog had me sold! However, it was a long process trying to find someone to come with me. All my friends desired to go but already had summer commitments. In my heart I knew I would be here, but it sure was a long waiting process. I sat on edge for months, waiting to hear that we had found someone to go with me. Finally, in April, Rachel told me she had found a girl from Florida to volunteer with me, and it has been such a wonderful match! 

Working with people with disabilities is when I feel most in my element. It's an unshakable passion that was planted deep in my heart, and I'm always seeking new ways to be involved with them. I feel so lucky to get to work with such incredible people this summer!

Me (Sara) and Steven
Hello all! My name is Melissa Peterson and I'm one of the current volunteers here at the Hogar del Nino. This isn't my first time in El Salvador. I have family here, so this has always been my yearly vacation spot. However, this time, I decided to get involved and give back in one of the best ways possible, volunteering at the Hogar. And let me tell you, it has been such a wonderful experience thus far.

I have to be honest though, who ever I told that I was volunteering here, all told me to be prepared that it was a very eye-opening and strong place that would be sure to overwhelm you. I went in with an open mind, knowing I had worked with children with mental disabilities before. I never expected what I was in for when I first visited the Hogar. It was shocking and eye-opening to say the least. Though I speak the language, I felt out of place, but by my second visit, I couldn't help but fall in love with all the residents I met and encountered. I've formed a safety net with a few girls that promise me they'll "protect me." One even jokes around and says she'll be the one teaching me English!

My partner Sara and I were lucky enough to be part of the 25th anniversary celebration of the Hogar! It was probably one of my favorite things yet when I saw how happy and excited all the residents were to dance and sing with the mariachi band! I can't tell you enough how overjoyed I am with the love they all treat me with. I've already learned so much from them, they have given me so much already. I can only hope that I can in return give them half of what they do daily for me! Sara and I are like little girls in a toy store here, and I couldn't have asked for a better companion to spend my summer with doing something we both love and are so passionate for.

Let the adventures continue with these beautiful children of God!

Me (Melissa) and Imelda

We started at the Hogar a little over a week ago, and so far we have enjoyed just getting to know the residents (there are a lot of them to get to know!) We are still in the preparation stage for teaching classes, but plan to start that hopefully next week. In the meantime, there has been tons of bracelet making, coloring, laughing, feeding, dancing, and bubble blowing!

Aida loves her scissors!

Janet is the jewelry queen!

Steven LOVES bubbles! It's the first thing he asks when he sees us in the morning. He points to the backpack and pretends like he is blowing bubbles. Too cute to say no!

We also have started to prepare to paint one of the rooms in the Lactantes, which first requires removing several layers of wallpaper. But talking about that is almost as tedious as the removal process, so we’ll just wait to show you the paint once that’s finished. J We are so excited to bring color to the rooms in the Lactantes, as well as the rooms and hallways in the niños dormitories. Past volunteers have made some awesome murals, so we are hoping to add to the other walls in the rooms, and our goal is to add color everywhere so it’s a homier atmosphere. We also plan to write some of Padre Vito Guarato’s quotes down the hallways in the dormitories. 

Last Wednesday (May 30th) was the 25th anniversary of the Hogar! They brought in a mariachi band (with special guests of our very own Nahum on the djembe and Memo on the trumpet!) and the niños danced their hearts out.

Somebody danced a little too hard.  :)

Here's a few more pictures to show you some more of what we've been up to and the wonderful people we've been getting to know!

Alonso striking a pose!

Her smile is so contagious!

One thing we've noticed while being out here...the residents sure do love bananas!

Always time for some dancing. :)

Geovanny talking to Melissa using his communication book that former volunteers put together for him, something which he has definitely mastered and loves to do!

Be looking for more posts soon! :)

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