A walk with the children

Volunteer Coordinator Daniela reflects on her time at NPH Bolivia.
August 16, 2016 - Bolivia

With a girl at the fish pond

It was July 2015, and I was walking through the forest alongside the a few girls…That’s how my volunteer service at NPH Bolivia began. Many new things were ahead. In the beginning you spend time trying to learn all of the boys’ and girls’ names, learning how the house runs in general, getting to know volunteers, training for your work, and beginning to know everyone else, as you get accustomed to your daily routine.

Time passes and you get connected even more with the house. You know now their names, and you continue learning new things about the culture alongside all the children and staff of the house.

Suddenly we arrive to the month of October. Some of our young women celebrate their quinceañeras and have their party. They begin planning together with the most anxiously awaited guests, the Canadians. On the day of the party the girls looked beautiful and were truly content.

You live day to day with joys, struggles, and wonderful moments as you speak with the children, listening to them, supporting them, and playing with them. When for some reason you miss your home country, family, or friends, the best thing to do is spend time with the children and teenagers. That is what will comfort you and take you to a new world.

Through many rainy days and beautiful sunsets, we find ourselves at the six-month mark, and you already feel almost like part of the family at NPH Bolivia. At the same time, the sixth and seventh months are months full of changes; it is here where you begin to realize that your time in the house is less every day.

Time continues passing and it becomes shorter and shorter, and before you know it you are already down to your last month, your last week, and your emotions become confusing and their intensity increases. You begin to think on and remember those wonderful moments, the struggles, everything learned, and the joys. You begin to have a collage of memories in your mind.

How could one forget the reading evenings with the littlest ones in the house when we played hand games together, and when you helped them read and write? There were of course the fishing days or the times we went to the pool. How could one forget the joy at spending the day with the birthday children when they went into the city? The nights with the volunteers and sharing the journey is surely not forgotten. I can’t help thinking about the times when teaching them to make candles, or cooking with the older children, or the dances with the entire home?

Christmas, New Years, playing at the pool, laughing, and chatting are all part of the endless memories that come to your mind. Then you reflect and ask yourself, “What would I have done differently?” Or, “What advice would I give myself at the beginning of my volunteer service?” Maybe I would have done some things differently, but I believe that my time here, as it was, was spectacular. It has been truly the most beautiful and pleasant experience of my life.

Maybe there is something that I would have said to myself before beginning my service here, “Your time is the most valuable gift that you can give a person.”

Then like it began, my volunteer service at NPH Bolivia ended in August 2016, on a walk through the forest, with a beautiful sunset, alongside the boys and girls.

Daniela Albuja   
Volunteer Coordinator




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