Every child has superpowers

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We have got to learn that being different, having different abilities shouldn’t be a label and that real inclusion is key to a more human society. At the end of it all, THE ONLY thing we ALL have in common is that we are different.

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In a land up in the mountains of Guatemala, where trees are abundant, the diversity of plants is rich, and between some of the highest volcanoes in the area, there is a small village called Parramos, labeled of serving the best beans, a town of constant movement. At the very border of Parramos, after crossing a small bridge leading uphill, is where you find Casa San Andrés de Nuestros Pequeños Hermanos – NPH in Guatemala. It is far away from what I used to know, but here, inside the child home, I lived and worked for 13 months as an occupational therapist, serving children with special needs.

When I heard about NPH, I was in the second year of my studies. I was looking for an internship abroad to complete the practical in my occupational therapy study. While searching for different opportunities in Google, NPH was the first option that showed up. The fact, that I could volunteer in the job I love, helping in a children’s home and having an experience abroad, was something I found pretty beautiful. Especially the concept and the values of NPH attracted my attention. Four years after that, NPH still was in my mind and in January 2022, I took the chance and applied for a year of volunteering.

And this year has been a fireball. My days have the same rhythm but never look the same though. The days are full, but it is a good full. First thing in the morning, I head to the clinic, where occupational therapy has its little area with all the therapy materials. Here I prepare my workday: what are the objectives of today´s therapies? Are the tasks in the new workplace adapted to this young adult? What is the best possible positioning for this girl that has difficulties sitting upright in a wheelchair?

I am part of the Special Education team at NPH. We mainly work with the Hogar of Sagrado Corazón, an Hogar dedicated to adults with disabilities that have a more severe restriction in the participation of their daily activities. We also take care of the kids from the other Hogars. The types of intervention are various. Every child has a different need and my task is to highlight the priorities of every child. « What is most important in the life of the child so that he can have better participation? ». One of our main goals is to promote inclusion inside the institution and better the quality of life of each child.

When I arrived at NPH everything was a bit of a challenge. Speaking a language I never spoke before, adapting to a new culture, settling into a new place and finding a new work rhythm. Personally, the hardest part was to execute my actual job. Before coming to NPH, I worked with elder people in a caring home. I had to face new ways to work and had to be a student again.

After finishing work in the clinic, I directly head to the section of hogar Divino niño. Every volunteer gets to spend their time with one hogar while staying at NPH. So I share my time with the small kids from 4 to 11 years. This time is a very precious one to me. Every child wants your attention differently. We usually spend time playing, doing homework, sharing dinner, preparing for bed and of course giving lots of hugs. After a typical work day plus spending time with the kids, it is not rare to be exhausted from the day’s hustle. But the kids have superpowers, they transmit a bit of their energy toward you so that sometimes you don’t even feel your day.

The children here learn the values of life, with whose el Padre Wasson has founded this non profit organization. One thing I want to highlight about NPH is the fact that after the age of 18, when the kids have to leave the hogar due to legal affairs, they aren’t just « put on the street ». NPH continues to contribute to them and their education and even gives them the possibility to live outside of the institution. This is something rare to find in these types of institutions. Thank you for that and so much more NPH.

I am extremely grateful to all of the kids. I have learned something from each one of them. And to me, each of them is a superhero, spreading their very own superpowers. And by being you, serving with a truly open heart, you might contribute and have a positive influence in the life of one of the kids.

Make your own experience. Apply today: https://www.nph.org/volunteer