Well its been almost 5 months since I first stepped through the old rusty gates to my new place of work for the next 9 months and already its been a battle of mixed emotions. I have tackled a lot things that I thought that I was uncapable of for a start, being able to hold a baby properly and not like I was carrying a handbag (which is how for the first few days I did).
Well I’m not going to lie from the first glimpse of the area and place we was going to be working for the next 10 months we had defo drawn the short straw! Hell yeah did they have a good website designer that knew how to Photoshop to perfection! We had been told not to speak English on the streets and wait inside the shop for the bus and be careful! Haha WTF?? Corrugated steel houses, rats, stray animals everywhere, people walking round with machetes in their belt.. oh yes the first day we shit ourselves! But of course every experience is how you make it right? 5 months on we have local bus drivers that actually sit and wait for me and Fran to come, locals that stand and talk to us in the street and a few of the strays that of course been the sucker I am, I save them some of my dinner. I know that the place we work isn’t the best and you need to have your whit’s about you but I wouldn’t change any of it.
For all the people that know me well, you know just how rubbish I am when it comes to babies, throw me seven 5 year olds and I’m winning but one baby and I’m on the floor kicking and screaming. When we was told that for the majority of our time here in Costa Rica we (me & Francesca) would be responsible for making exercise and stimulation for the babies, I am not going to lie I was not happy! But I suppose when you can only say ‘Hola!’ in Spanish you cant really argue so I just gave it a shot.
The first day that we was officially left to our own devices haha I think we had a melt down screaming and running round after one toddler while the 3 others glared at us thinking who are these two Muppets?
After one week everything kind of become a routine, feed the babies their breakfast, clean yourself up and the baby that has a face full of banana and spit set up the obstacle course (as I like to call it) with crawling mats, and stuffed shapes. Let the children try to crawl or walk through it! Bounce the children on exercise balls and swings. Roll around and let them get as mucky as possible ha.. Show them objects, let them feel each one, dancing and massage.
The other children
Although it isn’t our job to look after the rest of the children that are aged 3-10 years, the place is quiet a small house that in total houses 16 children all together and even though they come and go due to school and in house classes I have still managed to bond with them, Its very hard not to as they really are all amazing kids that have their own specialities. When you hear the stories of some of the children that I work with and just see how they can stand there with a smile on their face it is truly inspiring and heart braking all at the same time.
Up and Down
Haha the children’s moods.. of course every child has good days and bad days but I tell you when there is 16 of them screaming, fighting and trying to annoy you that’s when I miss England lol! We are very lucky because it doesn’t seem to happen a lot and when it does we have taught the children about respect and discipline and oh yes.. the naughty corner!
What an amazing little girl.. When arriving on a morning tired and hot thinking I want my bed, then you spot this 6 month old angel that would give you the biggest smile and suddenly you are ready!! She was the only girl in the group of 4 babies that we had to look after and she was the cutest thing ever. Very smart in just 4 months we had her crawling, walking and clapping.Christmas time was so hard for me and Fran due to the fact she was leaving we had bonded with her everyday however the fact she was going home to her mum was amazing. When the car came to pick her up the tias let us give her one last hug and kiss before she left. Knowing that I would never see this girl again hurt me so much that I couldn’t hold back the tears, tears of joy that finally she would have a normal life but tears of sadness knowing that she wasn’t there to greet us on a morning with that amazing smile. When she left I remember me and Fran looking at each other and hugging and then all the kids came over hugging us and I just thought to myself SHIT!! How am I going to say goodbye in July?
Like a second Home
So far working with the children has been a roller-coaster but we have all been sat on that ride together as a team, the kids understand us we understand the kids. Its amazing how far we have come morning… feed the kids breakfast, help out getting them dressed, set out the equipment, chase the kids, teach the babies to walk & talk, help out with setting up the classrooms, feed the lunch, clean up, brush the teeth, bed for babies, play with the kids, teach one of them dancing (haha he loves my dance moves) help prepare the kids for school and lunch, read, finish art displays, look after all the kids, sing wonderwall to the kids!!!! It all comes so naturally now that it amazes me how rubbish I was with babies at the start. It amazing to see how far the kids themselves have come too Vincent is finally walking, Johan is running round repeating every word you say and Emilio has mastered walking and not running into things. I can actually say that I am so proud of my little mates I cannot wait for the months ahead to see how far they come.
Luci Goodyear, long-term EVS (European Voluntary Service) volunteer
Project supported by the EACEA and the Youth In Action programme of the European Commission.