by Alice Morton-Nicholl (UK)
I live with four others in Volunteer House 1 (VH1). It’s a pretty nice house and just down the street from the beach. I share a room with two other girls and there’s another room with two guys in it. There’s also Celina and Allyson who live in a tiny house that is essentially an extension of VH1. Celina is an incredible Honduran lady who works with us and Allyson is her adorable (but very sassy) four year old daughter.
I wake up around 7am and go out onto our porch to do some yoga. It’s really nice having this outdoor space, but be warned, we do share it with an older couple and their grandson (who are also our landlords), Killer and Gavin our cats, a billion mosquitoes, and around 20 chickens. By 8am, most of the volunteers will be around the porch eating breakfast and prepping for the day ahead. By that time there’s often a few kids from our programs hanging around the gate and trying to get you to come out and play or start class a little early. Their enthusiasm is adorable.
At around 8.30am – 9am we leave for class. We have three locations around the town and usually around three volunteers at each one. At the moment, we are running the Vacation Activities Program, so we’re a little more relaxed on teaching English and more about having education-based fun with the kids. That probably sounds very lame, but basically entails a lot of games, arts and crafts, and sports. Watching the kids get excited and really involved in activities is probably my favorite part of the whole experience and just makes me so happy. There are often days when the kids are a little more of a handful than we would like, but considering the challenges growing up in Honduras can present, they’re awesome.
At 11.30am we finish the class and head home for lunch. I usually spend an hour working on my Spanish, which is a really important skill here. To anyone thinking of volunteering, I urge you to learn as much as possible as you will get so much more out of it if you can talk to the kids and the rest of the community. After Spanish, I have lunch and get ready to go to afternoon class.
Around 1pm, we leave for afternoon class. Another awesome part of volunteering in El Porvenir is that you become a local celebrity. You can’t walk five minutes down the road without people coming to talk to you or at least calling out your name as you walk past. Afternoon class is basically the same as morning but with different kids and usually in a different location. We finish afternoon class around 4pm and return home. After class, we tend to hang out and more often than not watch DVDs with Allyson on repeat (we can all recite Barbie Princess Alexa word-for-word). I also teach adult class in the evenings so I’ll spend some time planning and go to class at 6.30pm. The students at adult class are an amazing group of people and it’s a great way to get to know the community a little better.
Adult class ends at 8pm and I return home to cook dinner. Some nights I might go down to Beach House, where the rest of the volunteers live, but we have to be pretty careful so walking alone after dark (around 6pm) isn’t a good idea and all volunteers need to be back in their own houses by 9pm. I generally do feel safe in this community but we still are cautious. If we’re not at Beach House, we’ll usually hang out on the porch at VH1 and make healthy snacks for the next day’s classes. The porch is a cool place to hang out, but you can be seen from the street so we still have to be careful not to be seen smoking or drinking. It may seem over-the-top but HCA’s reputation is vital to its success here so we need to be respectful of the fact locals have strong views in that regard and could pull kids out of our classes.
By 11pm, I’m tired and head to bed to read my book and prepare to do it all again the next day.