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! :)


Rachel said...

Awesome!!! So glad you ladies are down there!!

Mike and Tia Fam said...

You ladies are awesome! It looks like it is going to be wonderful summer for you and the Hogar of course. Thanks for the introduction :)
(this is Tia, long time fan of the Hogar, someday I'll visit!)

Nelda said...

I was with Rachel the summer that she first met the ninos, and I LOVE how much work all of her dedicated volunteers have done there in the years since! Thanks for doing what you're doing, and I look forward to reading more!

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