Thursday, October 15, 2015

Your home is where your heart is...

Written by Communications Officer, Konstantin Bilozertsev, a heartfelt piece on a volunteer named Claire and her experience living with the pequenos for a year at NPH Mexico.

On our big patio, in the middle of its choir of excitement, surrounded by all of the children playing together, Claire was playing soccer with some of her boys. During this joyful night, a thought suddenly came to her mind. It was a thought as clear as the water of love and as warm as a mother’s hug. "How could I ever not extend?" she asked herself surprisingly. With sudden clarity, Claire could not see herself leaving this place. NPH Mexico had become her home, and over a year later she is still here. "I can’t imagine my life without this place; it's my second home," says Claire. What makes a home? What has tied this ribbon so gently? In the beginning, it didn’t wasn’t as easy with all the changes and challenges of the first months as a volunteer. It was when she got to know her boys, with all of their faults and unique personalities, that she felt that indescribable feeling of unconditional love.

Claire’s boys are sweet and a bit mischievous. Having already worked as a school and preschool teacher in the US, she was prepared for "the tattling and fighting, which any other kids do at their age." But here there was a lot more waiting for her. The more time passed, the more intensely she became involved with all of the children individually, with their little quirks and colorful personalities. "There are always both good and crazy days, but I know them too well to ever stay mad at them. I’m not just a teacher here; I’m their support." Over the last one and a half years Claire has changed. With the challenges of being a caretaker for thirty attention-seeking children, she has learned a lot from: lessons on discipline; teaching social skills when it may be hard to show patience at times; listening to them when they need someone to lend an ear; and to answer all kinds of questions. "We are here so they feel trust and not abandonment," she says with quiet passion. "We are their source of love and attention. Through all of the changes and uncertainty, we are the constants for at least a year. We are whom they can turn to and lean on."

In her time here she has learned to be more flexible and to go with the flow, how happy it makes one to appreciate the relationships with the people around you, and that what you share is more important than what you have. "My way of life," she reflects, "has become richer, and that’s all because of the intense involvement with the home and the wonderful people who work together to make something fun and significant happen." Claire is assured she gained much more than she possibly could give. Every time she visits her home in the US it feels like leaving behind her other life in Mexico.
To see her teaching the children in special education at school with loving patience, to see her motivating her kids doing chores with animating warmth, to see the anticipation in the eyes of bigger kids from other dorms when they are coming over to talk or even just for a hug, just makes you smile and think she must be very happy here. She weaves her work by heart, and its beauty is visible. Proudly, with a bittersweet and loving sadness in her voice she adds, "Since I arrived, they have already have grown up so much." And obviously her heart has, too.