Working as a volunteer with the Honduras Child Alliance in El Porvenir has been a roller coaster, physically, mentally and emotionally. To be fair, this experience was almost exactly what I had expected, and looked forward to! Check out out what I wrote on June 16th:
“I’m going to volunteer teach beautiful little children, and play at the beaches after school, and sleep in a bunk bed with a fan and eat lots of fruit, learn Spanish, and fall in love with a new place. I am going to backpack around Central America and build bathrooms on weekends, and I will be happy. I’ve always wanted to do this, ever since university days it has been a dream of mine.”
The only things different was that there were no bathrooms being built, and I can’t say I’ve exactly
fallen in love with the place. Love is a very strong word-maybe ‘adapted to my best of ability’ would be more suitable. But I did it, I came with an open mind and offered all I had and worked hard to make my stay worthwhile. But was it worthwhile? Can volunteering anywhere for a few months be worthwhile?
To be honest, I am leaving soon with a note of disappointment. The reason why I had chosen to help power an organization dedicated to empowering others in extreme poverty was because it was my passion. I thought that’s what I wanted to dedicate the rest of my life to, so I graduated with a degree in Public Health, worked at the Red Cross, and moved overseas for international experience. I had hoped to one day work for the WHO, Unicef, etc. do crazy stuff, like educating children at refuge camps, write articles to promote awareness of needed aid, you know. Now that I’ve gotten first-hand experience I’m thinking…maybe it’s not what I want to pursue after all. It’s been a slow, crushing realization. WHY do I feel this way? Many factors go into it, but the bottom line is that this work may not be for me-and that’s okay. I’ll reflect and revisit this. Perhaps I just need a break from this sector-I am definitely looking forward to moving back to state side. I’ve tentatively begun my job search knowing I have much to offer, my challenge is where to start looking. Oh, the adventures that await.
On the bright side, I’ve learned more than I expected to about how a non-profit runs. I’ve seen the good, the bad, and the ugly sides of what it takes to change a community for the better. I’ve met incredibly inspirational people who have worked alongside us. I’ve lived together with some strong characters from all over the world and managed. I’ve witnessed how the cycle of poverty works, and I’ve loved the children who hope to break out of it. I’ve learned to be grateful for the simple things, like hot showers, mosquito nets, and clean air. I’m excited to be reunited with the one I love and to see where life will take us next.