Tuesday, March 30, 2010

This Weekend Flew By: Part 2

So you've heard Saturday, and here is Sunday.

Sunday was Visitors' Day. Four times a year at NPH Guatemala, family and friends of the kids here can come visit them. Older volunteers warned us it would be a weird day, but you still really couldn't prepare for how it would feel.

Some kids are here at NPH because their parents can't afford to feed, clothe, and educate them and their siblings. They may have a mom, a dad, maybe both, aunts and uncles, grandparents, and brothers and sisters. Their families are still very much in the picture. Other kids were abandoned, found on the street, and literally have no one in their life outside of NPH. Visitors' Days are incredibly exciting for the first group of kids, and incredibly depressing for the latter. For volunteers, it's both. An absolute roller coaster day.

You love seeing families show up with homemade food and giant cakes, but your heart absolutely breaks when you see kids get super dressed up, wait around all day hoping their name will be called to say a visitor has arrived, and then no one ever comes. Some kids don't even waste their time looking nice; they know no one's coming to see them. That sucks to watch too.

Sunday was also hard for me because of my assigned job. I was in charge of taking photos of Visitors' Day and in charge of taking family photos -- and then charging people to print them out a copy of it. My initial thought was, "I don't think I can do this." But after talking with some other volunteers, I pulled myself together and started asking people if they wanted family photos. The response was an overwhelming yes. A lot of times so far this year, I'm finding that what I think is totally rude and imposing and completely inappropriate...is actually okay.

So, the afternoon went well, I guess. I took lots of family photos, and lots of families and kids were really excited to get the photos (it was also pretty cool for them that I could take the photo and go print it in my office within 5 minutes).  It doesn't mean it wasn't hard or awkward though.

In general, as a volunteer, you just feel so weird around the families. Here they are, on one of four days they are allowed to visit their own children who they had to give up to NPH -- for whatever reason. And here we are, these well-off, 20-somethings from some other country, hanging out here for a year, playing with and taking care of their kids, and acting like we know anything about life.

So anyway, I survived my first Día de Visitas. I won't say I'm necessarily pumped about the next one that falls in June, but for the 200-ish kids who received visitors, I know they are. At the very least, it's an interesting experience...and a very real part of life at NPH.

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