Its hard to express how much Casa Hogar and Honey House have meant to me and how hard it was to let them go in the end. It’s cliché to say that “Casa Hogar found me and not the other way around” but its true. I found myself searching for ways to feel fuller, happier, less tangled up in my stale environment and myself. My aunt had suggested going abroad and working with an organization that aligned with things I was passionate about: Women’s rights and Children.
We all know that doing something outside of ourselves can actually give us self worth, to say the least, its gratifying. Even though I knew this and had small moments of joy through helping other organizations in the past, I never experienced what it was to truly focus on “Serving Others”. Thus is the human condition I think. So, I opened up my computer. Entered a few key words. And saw thre countries pop up on my screen. They read:
Women in Need- India
Women and Children- Africa
Children’s Home- Peru
Now, they all seemed adventurous and a little intimidating- I had never been to any of these continents and I had to be real with myself in the search. Going to India solo seemed like a recipe for an overwhelming disaster on such short notice, not to mention the country seemed intimidating for a foreign female traveler. After all, my bags were packed and I was ready to leave the states ASAP! Even though I had no idea where I was going or what I would be doing. Africa I knew was way over my head. There were vaccinations to get and research that required way too much time to read through and a mental preparation that I just didn’t have the energy for. It wasn’t going to be a match this time around. Peru on the other hand… Peru felt like it was just waiting for me. I spoke a small amount of Spanish (and yes, even though I’m 3rd generation Mexican-American DOES NOT MEAN I can just “blend in with the locals”. NOT AT ALL). I new essential words that any travel app would teach you, but there was a trust I felt for Latin America and its daughters. And so I emailed Volunteer Peru and discovered it was a match!
There isn’t much we can do in the world but “be love” to someone. I think our good friend Bob Marley tried to teach us that. It’s the basic language/gesture/assistance anyone ever needs. It’s what we need as volunteers. Just to be LOVE for someone. It’s not difficult to figure out once you see all those little faces. Children are amazing that way. They are our greatest reminders on how to be both resilient and full of love. Once we hit Adulthood (and maybe even Teenhood) we tend to lose sight of that. How wonderful it is to have a reminder as great as this. My time with Casa Hogar, Volunteers Peru and Honey House was the greatest gift I could have ever asked for. It was the gift of Love. To be a smile, a warm embrace, an encouraging word to a young girl … to simply love her. How many of us wish we had a little more of that when we were young girls? Now it’s your turn to be that for someone else. I carry those little girls in my heart wherever I go. Not only them but the wonderful women you meet in the process. Dayana, Miriam, Dona Marita and the other Volunteers whom, if you’re lucky, will remain your friend for years to come. When I feel tangled up again, as will naturally happen a million times in life, I remember what I walked away with last summer-
-an infinite amount of inspiring moments on how to be happy from girls who I would let down if I didn’t continue to be my best
-being what I hope was an inspiring impact on a young girls self esteem as she moves through the world
-and being reminded how to PLAY, even if the circumstances aren’t the best, because the happiest moments in life are in the PLAYING of it. Something children understand so well.
So when you’ve spent two or more weeks (please spend a month) volunteering with this amazing place, allow yourself to just love and be loved in the most authentic way.
Thank you to everyone at Casa Hogar, Volunteers Peru and Honey House.
My heart is forever with you!