Hi, I’m Carrie. Last year (January 2010 – January 2011), I served as an international volunteer at the NPH Guatemala home. Surrounded by a ring of breathtaking volcanoes, I spent my days working as the Home Correspondent, and I spent my nights and weekends unleashing my inner 12 year-old as the volunteer in a section of preteen girls. Oh, and I blogged about the entire thing. Literally, the entire thing. :)
So when I saw that Friends of the Orphans had started this new blog, I knew I wanted to contribute. However, as I said in an email to the blog gurus over at Friends, “Do you have any certain ideas about what you want in a post? My NPH experience feels so gigantic; I guess I feel like I need a way to narrow it down.”
To help me find a place to start, they suggested, “Why don’t you talk about one or two of your favorite experiences?” Hmm. My favorite experiences.
I thought about celebrating my birthday, or teaching the quinceañera waltz, or even just simple nights hanging out in the section.
And while I loved those moments, I kept coming back to two other moments. Neither involved the kids at NPH, the staff, or even my fellow volunteers exactly. Confused? Actually, they both involved you.
In July of last year, I was asked to write a profile of a child at NPH Guatemala who was either in university or about to begin. Friends was putting together a wonderful back-to-school newsletter, so they wanted to feature kids pursuing higher education. I wrote about Pedro Pablo, a 19 year-old who was always super helpful to me in the bodega (the on-site store) and who I’d heard great things about from my housemate who led Guatemala’s leadership group.
I interviewed Pedro Pablo one day, snapped a photo, strung together some sentences, and uploaded it to the website. And then I moved on to the next project.
A few weeks later, I received this email from a Friends Regional Sponsorship Manager:
I wanted to thank you for your AWESOME article about Pedro Pablo! Because of it a man here would like to sponsor Pedro Pablo through university! I just wanted to confirm that this is the correct person and to remind that you all those silly articles that you write down there really do make a difference. By the time Pedro Pablo graduates from University, the sponsor will have donated thousands of dollars to NPH
all because of you! Great article. Guatemala
Later in the year, as part of my work on the 2010 Annual Report, I was asked to write a profile of a new child at the home. I wrote about Melany, the newest giggly addition to my giggly section of preteen girls. Again, I asked her a few questions one day, took her out on a photo shoot, strung together some sentences, and uploaded it to the website. And then I moved on to the next project.
(Of course, I showed Melany when the article went live on the site. Twelve year-olds love that kind of stuff!)
Several months later, when my year had ended and I was back in the States, I got a letter from Melany in response to a letter I had written my entire section. She wrote me:
Thank you for the letter that you sent us. We miss you. And thanks to your article and interview with me, I have 5 padrinos (godparents) now!!! They all told me they chose me because they saw the article on the website.
Pedro Pablo didn’t receive money for university because I wrote an article. I was just doing my job. It happened (yes, he’s currently attending university in
as I write this) because a Friends supporter – one of you out there – read that article and chose to act. Antigua, Guatemala
And Melany didn’t go from zero godparents to five just because I put her picture on the website. Again, just my job. It’s because you – yes, you – saw those pictures and made the decision to do something about it. (P.S. Melany will graduate primary school in just a few months, and I’m told she talks about her new godparents all the time.)
These moments were my favorite ones. It’s because they were bigger than my volunteer year and bigger than my relationships with my girls and basically…just bigger than me. They were the moments when I realized, that at the end of the day, whether I’m even in
or not, all of this really works. This entire organization, its staff, its supporters around the globe: it all really works. Guatemala
So thanks for reading – for reading this post, my old articles, this year’s new articles not by me, and all articles to come. But mostly, thanks for reading…and then doing. Because it works. :)