A day in the life at Hogar Para Todos

There are at present 29 children living at Hogar Para Todos.  The house belonged to the director’s parents, who from what I understand left it to her when they died.  Nancy is 76 years old and usually is woken by a staff member or a young person whose problem can only be resolved by her at around 6:30 in the morning.  From there she starts her day, never seeming to rush, but always making progress.  By 8:00 or thereabouts she is fully dressed and has had her breakfast and is getting to the day’s to-dos.  She has no office, and her only device is a Blackberry from which she occasionally checks her Facebook page.  Throughout the day she floats between the accounting office (which has become my temporary home, as there is a computer I can generally use if no one else needs it), the “Director’s office,” which is a funny misnomer because of course Nancy is the director, but there are 3 desks in there and none of them are hers, and the various other parts of the house where care and support are the order of the day: the kitchen, the babies’ room, the playground, the dining room.

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A (somewhat long) postcard from Azogues…

I am not exaggerating in the least when I say that the last 2 weeks feel a whole lot more like 2 months…such an incredible amount of things have happened.

I literally taught up to the minute we left Le Puy – my last lesson ended at 9:30 on Tuesday morning, and we were on the road within the hour. We drove up to Paris with C’s sister, with whose family we stayed whilst in town, save for one dreamy night with our good friends in the city, who happened to prepare a gorgeous Thai/Indian feast for us to boot. The rest of our visit was spent marveling at how fast our nephews are growing and changing, complete with a Saturday on the rugby pitch. Paris was lovely, but we were off pretty quickly from there…

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Nearly there…

The last few weeks have been maddening.  In an attempt to get as many pennies into the coffers before we leave as possible, I took on as many students as I could, some transcription work for a friend in a doctoral program, and a rush translation job for a tourist board near here.  C and I have also been tying up all the loose ends we have here, as well as scrambling to learn as much Spanish as possible before we go.

As the weather’s gotten nicer, I’ve been stuck indoors, typing away, preparing lessons or teaching.  I haven’t been creating (and I assure you that every word I’m typing right now is like pulling water out of that proverbial stone), I haven’t done yoga, gone jogging or hiking…in fact, I haven’t gone out much at all.  C’s spent 3 out of the last four weeks away for work, and there hasn’t been time for anything…well, there has been some time, but I’m awful at taking advantage of snippets of time during the day.  I need an open horizon before I can chill.  A vacation would be nice.  But while we’ll be taking flight in the very near future, there will be no time for R&R.  But that’s okay.

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A new adventure awaits…

Well, this was unexpected.  Can’t say, really, what was, but the last year has been nothing if not filled with expectation.  As the school year was drawing to a close circa April, I took the dive.  I’m no English teacher, said I to me, and, This ship needs some new horizons, said we to us (we being C and I, of course).  We do still deeply dig on Le Puy, and this is our point de chute, but there is a lot more world to see than we’ve had the chance to see thus far, and point de chute means landing pad after all, and one needs to take flight in order to necessitate landing, right? And so the search began.

I knew it would be hard.  The Interweb is chockful of warnings that development work is crazy difficult to break into.  But I had years of experience with vulnerable people.  I had years of experience of monitoring and evaluating, of change management and people management and risk management.  I’d volunteered almost without a pause for over a decade, and spent a year volunteering full time with two wildly different grassroots organisations in a developing country.  I had two fluent and a third decent language.  And I type damn fast.  I knew it would be hard, yes…but I thought it would be possible.

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Je suis vous.

It has been a difficult two weeks on Earth.  There were, of course, the horrific Charlie Hebdo, police, and hostage murders that took place in Paris.  I recently read that Saudi Arabia has carried out its 10th execution – beheading, that is – of the year.  Which is to say, of the last two weeks.  Perhaps most horrific of all, the entire town of Baga in Nigeria was razed to the ground, with what Goodluck Jonathon and his mates would like us to believe left behind 150 dead bodies, whilst in Realityville is looking much more like 2000+.

It is not easy being human these days.

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A happy memory, and a worthy objective

If you ever want to teach a young adult about the value of a dollar, send them on a 3 month roadtrip with very little money.  At 21, I was just stupid enough to go ahead with a trip around the continental US with two friends right after a series of unfortunate circumstances left me very much broke.  I couldn’t bear the thought of backing out after a year of planning, and luckily my friends had all the faith necessary to lead me to believe we’d be ok.  Off we went, me sat in the back with a few crochet hooks and a few dozen spools of yarn, whipping out tams for dreadies as fast as my fingers allowed. Tams raked in big bucks in those days – I got anywhere between $30-60 for each one.  By the time we left the parking lot of a Phish concert somewhere (Wisconsin?), I’d made just enough money to be on par with my amigas, who were also not rolling in it.

Every penny was precious, so we did not buy what we did not need.  Facial cleanser was just outside our budget, so we’d been using soap.  My girlfriends both had amazing skin, but about 6 weeks in, even they were feeling the stress of it all.  We were in a campsite just outside Quantico (An old man outside a convenience store: What the hell are you girls doing in Quantico? hehe…As with many corners of the US we crossed on that trip, we did not fit in).  I woke up before my companions as I always did, owing, I believe, to my mother’s refusal to ever let me sleep in as an adolescent.  My friends, however, could sleep in those boiling hot tents until well past 10, and I couldn’t stand it.  So I went for a stroll, into a part of the campsite that had been cordoned off.  I could see right away that this part of the campsite had undergone years of neglect: campsites were worn and unused, weeds grew over firepits, it appeared the roads hadn’t been driven on for at least months, if not years.  Interestingly, there were plastic ribbons tied round the branches of a number of trees, which were conspicuously growing in the way of clearly – if anciently – designated campsites.

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