This past week has been extremely busy. Each weekday from 8:00 AM through noon we gave workshops to the staff. The workshops focused on how to best manage behavioral and development issues for the kids. As I have probably said before, the tias (translated aunts), who are the principal caregivers for the children, vary in their skills. All of them are mothers, and most seem very caring and committed, but sometimes their expectations of the children, and therefore their corresponding disciplinary responses, are unrealistic. We have frequently heard the phrase, “My kid would never act that way,” without any real understanding of how tremendously different are the lives of the kids at Montaña de Luz from their own children. Last week went a long way to challenge some of those ideas, and perhaps give some of the Tias a fuller understanding of the challenges the kids face. In many ways the kids at Montaña de Luz have so much more than the typical Honduran kid. They get very good, nutritious meals. They have warehouses of donated clothes. They have literally mountains of toothpaste and toothbrushes, and school supplies. They don’t have to worry about being able to afford the costs of going to school. They live in a clean, healthy environment. What they don’t have is a family. They don’t have consistency and stability in their relationships, particularly with adults who have frequently failed or abandoned them. Most of them have to take medications that have serious side effects for the remainder of their lives. Those who have been seriously ill, the majority of them, have already had to directly face their mortality. We were reminded of these realities this past week. There were a great many aha moments for the Tias who attended the trainings. The adage “sometimes you can’t see the forest for the trees,” comes to mind. Laura and I, working with the staff psychologist, had a lot to do with the flow of the week and the topics covered. We are really beginning to figure out our roles.
And we are also beginning to move in to the community of Nueva Esperanza. Because of the training last week, Laura and I didn’t get a full day off. We did, however, take Wednesday and Thursday afternoons off. On Wednesday we took the bus to Zamorano, a college community halfway between us and Tegucigalpa. They have a grocery store there that caters to the college kids that live on campus, a rare occurrence in Honduras. We brought some groceries and had a coffee treat at the American Espresso (thinking of you, Fred). We have still not stocked up too well on food items as you can only carry so much in a backpack. On Thursday afternoon while I was taking a siesta, the vegetable hawker came by. He comes by in a truck with a loudspeaker, announcing the various vegetables he has to sell and their corresponding price. Laura got up the courage to run out of the house and flag him down. He told her that he had been waiting for her, and that the next time we could just leave open our door and he would certainly come to us. We are two of four gringos in three houses that live in this two street town. In any case, Laura was so proud of herself to obtain a plethora of fruits, vegetables, and even a wedge of ham for about $7.00. Our kitchen is a little better stocked.
Sunday, 32 kids, 5 adults, and a thirteen year old’s sister who was visiting, drove into Tegucigalpa to enjoy an outing with a motorcycle club who offered them a picnic and motorcycle rides. They went on the two vans that Montaña de Luz owns (I know that you are already doing the math right now – let’s just say you can fit a lot more people in a van here than you can in the States – it has something to do with the changes in gravity close to the equator). Laura and I didn’t go. A welcomed surprise day off. This was the first day that Laura and I had nothing to do since coming to Honduras. We didn’t have to be tourists and we didn’t have to watch kids. We didn’t have to find a bus or exchange money. We had nothing to do, what an incredible gift. So we did nothing. We went to church in the morning. That was great because we knew almost everyone: people we already knew, friends, neighbors, and acquaintances. We came home. I did my crossword puzzle, Laura did some house cleaning. We read, we ate, we lounged. It was so good to feel that we live here. We will have lots to do while we are here. Our work with the children of Montaña de Luz and our daily lives will present us with challenges. But it is just such a joy and a blessing to know that we have found a home.