Volunteer Name: Bobby Salerno & Jaclyn Nil
Volunteer Location: Belize, orphanage
After a surreal culture shock into where the edge of civilization and extreme poverty meet... I landed in what could have been Baghdad, Iraq but was a small village called Ladyville (and I mean village... Dirt roads, bungalow homes, poor sewage, most peoples means of transportation are run-down beat-up bicycles)
Meeting the kids was AMAZING. These little munchkins 6 months - 16 yrs old welcomed us with hugs, kisses and all around smiles!!... I had to do pushups for the boys (establish dominance that I was going to be the alpha male for the next week) & Jaclyn did the girls nails. (37 orphans in all). I shared with them my cop stories and tried to get to know their names. The children told me about themselves; some loved basketball, some loved Rihanna (the singer) and some even wanted to be a solider (Belize Army).
Jaclyn and I quickly swung into a routine. An average day consist of walking majority of the kids to the bus stop, some of the girls to a Catholic school & driving the special needs kids (2 of them & they are my little side-kicks (OMG how their smiles stole the show)!!) to a special school 8 miles away.
Everyday Jaclyn & I buy each of them (1) snack for after school & give them (1) shilling each (it's like a Belize quarter) ... But in America money. Snack + Shilling = less than .20 cents !!!
Oh, forgot to mention.... (3) of us volunteers buy sometimes breakfast from a guy who drives a bicycle with a cart attached to it. Inside that cart are baked goods by his wife. We seem to like theses mini meat pies that costs the (3) of us in total 2.50$ US MONEY!!!
Kids, get home from school at varies times.... The younger ones get out early and the older later & it's homework time!! Which, turns out, Jaclyn is horrible in Math as I am horrible in English (that's what they speak here)... Then (my favorite) basketball OR drilling (push-ups & pulls ups) with the boys (and occasionally Monkey-Bars with the toddlers).
Dinner at 6 pm. Wash up time & lights out at 730 pm.... That's when we volunteers find some hole-in-the-wall place for food. But wait, you’re not going to believe me when I say this... BEST food I've had in my life. The locals take pride in their food, pride in their jobs, and pride in their families. Some of the greatest people I've come to meet. As they say "GOOD VIBES MAN"! The locals knew that us (Americans) were there to help out at the Orphanage. We received a lot of respect for this b/c the locals understood how much the children deserve but actually do not have.
The kids were the highlight of our week. We couldn’t wait to wake each morning just to help the children get ready for school and walk them to the bus stop. The joy they brought to our lives was so infectious and addicting. As expected, we MISS these kids so much!!!
The children taught me a few lessons and reinforced others... Let me explain. Life is beautiful & humans, as a whole, have a natural instinct, an unlearned behavior imbedded into our DNA, that makes us want to love & be loved. To establish community & relay on one another for survival. I speak for all the children of the Center when I say, not one child expected anything and appreciated EVERYTHING.
The caretakers play an incredible role as guardians and role models in the orphan’s lives. I definitely forged some unforgettable relationships here & God willing, one day come back. Thank you A Broader View for making this trip possible.