Meet an NPH Bolivia Caregiver: Adalid Irala
Adalid Irala shares why he came to work for NPH Bolivia as a caregiver and what his role has taught him.
March 13, 2019 - Bolivia
At the age of 15, Adalid Irala volunteered at an afterschool program in Santa Cruz. He helped keep kids off the streets. He liked the work, because it helped him understand. The more time he spent with the children, the more he understood what they needed and what they lacked. He felt that only through friendship and solidarity was he really able to empathize with the children. And from a place of empathy, he could help.
The kids that Adalid worked with in Santa Cruz were poor certainly—a lot of them had special needs and some had problems stemming from their lives at home. They did not have enough money or sufficient resources to really excel at the things they liked; however, they did have family. At the end of the day they returned home to a mom and a dad.
This was one of the main reasons Adalid eventually decided to leave the afterschool program and come work for NPH Bolivia. He knew that many of the children´s behavioral and personal issues would be similar. He knew he had experience. And he knew he could connect through friendship and investing time with them. He also knew they had close to nothing. He felt called to work at NPH Bolivia, knowing it would be a challenge, but also knowing there would be no better reward than caring for kids who would eventually think of him as a part of their family.
Adalid has now worked at NPH Bolivia for more than one year in Casa San Francisco. He is a full-time caregiver for boys ages 10-12. He admits that the way he spends his working shift is always a bit of a surprise.
Of course, his house has rules and schedules, like when to do homework, clean your clothes, and brush your teeth. But free time he spends with his boys, whether they are playing soccer or just talking over dinner, is always interesting. Their pure curiosity, their ability to carry on after such harsh childhoods, and their tendency to always make him laugh constantly amaze him.
Of course, there are times when working here can be quite challenging. When asked what the hardest part of his job is, Adalid responds, ¨Apart from the mosquitos, one feels isolated here sometimes.¨ And this can certainly be true.
NPH Bolivia is no longer located in Santa Cruz, but lies two hours north in the countryside where the nearest town is roughly 25 minutes away. This, however, can be what makes our home so close-knit.
Adalid´s favorite part about working for NPH Bolivia is even though the children, workers, volunteers, caregivers, cooks, and other staff all come from different places, he laughingly admits ¨as cheesy as it sounds, it really does feel like a large family.”
Within the San Francisco house, Adalid says the most important value he teaches the boys is family. After a fight or disagreement, he reminds them that ¨family isn't just a mother, a father, and their biological kids, it´s everyone who lives in the house.¨
Whether its San Francisco house, with its eight boys and two full-time caregivers, or the 110 children of NPH Bolivia, we have a responsibility to care for one another, to cheer each other on when we accomplish something great, and to pick each other up when we are feeling down. He reminds his boys every day that ¨the only other people who can truly know exactly what you are going through are the other children in this home. If you abuse your friendship with them or don´t treat them with respect, they won´t be there for you when you really need someone to listen.¨
NPH Bolivia is blessed to have caregivers like Adalid looking after our children. Of course, a successful caregivers has to be competent in providing a variety of visible services to the children—helping with homework and making sure their clothes are washed, teeth are brushed, and medicine is doled out if kids are sick. However, the best caregivers are the ones who know that simply going through the motions is not enough.
It isn´t enough to just feed the children, dress them, and send them on their way. In the absence of biological parents, our caregivers at NPH Bolivia play a huge role in teaching our children basic life lessons and principles. Adalid´s lessons are about love and respect. He teaches that no matter who someone is, or where they come from, or how much we have in common, once they are here, they are family.
Children’s names have been changed to protect their privacy.