June 3, 2013
Starting our first day with the MAMA project was exciting. Anticipation was in the air as we woke up early, packed our lunches, and loaded the vans to go. The hour and a half van ride was up tiny dirt roads into the mountains. A memory from Adam: “Oh yeah Jason, by the way, I don’t know if something got lost in translation or what, but I think I accidentally told Enrique that I have 5 kids and they are very expensive.” Hahaha, I don’t know if Enrique ever even knew the truth.
Anyways, we reached our destination and unloaded the big truck of supplies. The men really know how to functionally pack a van with tons of items. We were setting up at a school – so you know that means children. Immediately they were my friends and while everyone was setting up, I learned their names, ages, things they liked, and a few songs. I also got them to ask me some questions and guess a few things about me. This quickly backfired when they guessed I was 30 years old.
It was time for the center to be open and a line/more like mob of people quickly formed. We had a check-in station where people got weighed and measured, a vitals sign station, hemoglobin station, deworming and vitamin A, vitamin distribution, dentist station (basically they point at a tooth, we pull it out), and the donation station. This was only one part of the space. The other classroom housed the doctor and the pharmacy. There was also a crew on cement work that built two floors for two families.
I was at the donation station where I had three suitcases of donated clothing and shoes. This was the last stop in the line and each person was allowed to get one item. It was fun giving the little girls princess shirts, and the old men pants, and the women skirts, and the babies onesies. But my favorite part was giving people shoes. People would come in with either no shoes or not functioning shoes – mainly little kids. I would dig through the suitcases and find them a pair, put them on their feet and just watch them smile so big. It was honestly so rewarding and amazing and I loved getting kisses on the cheek for putting shoes on feet. The sad part of this is that we don’t always have clothes for the exact people that stop by. We needed way more clothes for 8 to 14 year old girls than what we had. I couldn’t help but think of the bins and tubs of that exact size clothing I used to wear, just sitting in my house. I wanted so badly to give everyone everything they needed – but we know this is impossible. An awesome part of this is that I had formed relationships with the kids outside, and then they saw me again at the station and I was able to give them something.
Then we took a 15 to 20 minute lunch break. Apparently not as many people came as expected (due to the rainy season) so my station circle was done for the day, which means I played with kids all afternoon! It started off with really fun games and songs and lots of giggles. “Alisa! Alisa! Alisa!” was all I ever heard. It was so rewarding – and even more so ensuring that becoming a teacher is what I was meant to do.
All of a sudden, the sky darkened and the lighting cracked and the clouds open. Downpour might be a bit of an understatement. I think the water pipes of Heaven broke or something cause it was a torrential rain storm/pour/waterfall from the sky. All of the kids shrieked and giggles and we huddled under a canopy and played hand clapping games. Then we made a run for it to the classrooms. Ahh, so fun.
It was warmer and dryer inside but it was boring. So we all started playing with kids. I met Gavin who is 20 like me, and we talked for a while – it is SO GREAT to hold Spanish conversations. His little sister Abi, who is 5, became my friend and we played all afternoon. When it was time for her and her family to leave, I walked with her to the gate of the school. “Vamos a mi casa!” (Lets go to my house) she said. When I explained that I couldn’t, she crossed her arms, stomped her foot, pushed out her lip, and huffed. (It was like looking at myself). All of a sudden tears welled in her eyes and she just jumped into my arms and gave me the tightest hug from such a little body. I know that I will probably never see her again, and that hurts. But the memories made this afternoon were so great.
We cleaned up, packed up, and rode home. We ate a great dinner WITH MASHED POTATOES and then had a great group debriefing meeting. We made a list of every person we remembered/felt was important/played an important role in our journey thus far. Sadly, the majority of our important people were animals….Patrick the street dog that followed us everywhere, J-LO the parrot that ate Eric’s button, etc. etc. We did include real humans though. It was just a great way to connect the separate weeks of the trip, to realize the importance of relationships and people, and to prepare for heading home.
1. Doctor lingo in Honduras for bodily functions is literally peepee and poopoo
2. We have traveled 26.7 hours in a van/bus in the past week
3. A nice young man told me I was “hermosa”. Look it up.
4. It’s muddy and rainy season; should be monsoon season.
Laugh and live fearlessly,