Thursday, April 27, 2017

Current International Volunteers!

It’s time to highlight our current International Volunteers! Meet the 28 wonderful contributors to our NPH USA mission. SO MANY thanks to everyone!
Danica Sanders, Nurse, NPH Mexico
My experience volunteering at NPH Mexico is difficult to put into words. Every day is filled with hugs, laughs, talks, play, many chores (at times cries and tantrums), but most importantly love. I think before I came I didn't realize the impact I could have on the kids, or the impact they could have on me. I truly cherish every moment with the them, whether it be a one on one talk with one of the girls in my section before bed, making goofy videos, helping with homework, hanging out in patio on the weekends, braiding hair (mainly them braiding mine or teaching me), or snuggling up and watching a movie. They are so open, honest, accepting and loving. I know I am going to miss the million "holas" while walking through the home. I am going to miss hearing my nickname Danicoco (which has spread throughout house) shouted from all different directions. I am going to miss the special moments of watching siblings hang out and play together during their free time. And above all, I'm going to miss the endless beautiful smiles and hugs. I am lucky to have been able to be present in a small, but meaningful part in their lives. They inspire me every day and this experience will forever be with me. I have heard once you are part of the NPH family, you always stay. I feel lucky to now be a member and be able to watch my family here in Mexico grow.
Kaleigh Barret, Women’s Empowerment, NPH Mexico
If I had to pick one word to describe my experience as the Girls Empowerment Coordinator, I would choose transformative! I could never have imagined just how much my views would be challenged, broadened, and transformed to include the perspectives of these amazing young women. These girls are so wise and talented, and I am so grateful that I was given the opportunity to help them find their inner greatness. I am so proud of who these girls were, who they are today, and who they will be in the future!
Aaron Ruder, Caregiver and Communication Officer, NPH Mexico
My time at NPH has definitely been challenging to say the least. But when I look back at all the amazing memories I have made, I know it has all been worth it. From jumping into the pool fully clothed with my section to helping create a terrifically spooky haunted house, these are the times I will remember far into the future when I'm asked how I spent my twenties. Though my time here is wrapping up quickly, I still am eager to see what surprises the next few months have in store and how I can attempt to make my mark at NPH México.

Katrina Christian, Librarian/Caretaker, NPH Mexico
NPH is a place in which I have experienced more emotions than I ever thought possible. The contrast between utter exhaustion and frustration of a long day followed by the pure joy and overwhelming excitement of a sweet hug and giggle has become my norm over the past year, and I couldn’t be more content. At this place in the middle of rural Mexico, I have found new friends, true happiness, boundless love, and have come to know a more profound sense of myself. Reflecting on the past months and the few weeks I have left, I am filled with love for the messy, giggly, crazy little ones I have spent the better part of a year with, and although I might not miss the surprise cockroach, this place and these people, both little and big, will always have a huge chunk of my heart.
Sierra Kaptain, Caregiver, NPH Mexico
No matter how horrible they may have misbehaved during the day, my girls always give me a goodnight hug that is guaranteed to be bigger than the tantrum they had thrown earlier. And the hugs are always accompanied by 'I love you. Please don't go. Dream with your family. See you tomorrow.' Moments like those show me that all the children want here is to love and be loved. I had never imagined I would receive just as much of it as I give back to them, nor did I think I would be called mommy hundreds of times a day. We, as volunteers, may not be a biological parent, grandparent, or sibling to any of the kids, but we love and treat every one of them as if they were our own - and that to me makes NPH a pretty special place. 
Joey Schiappa, Swim Lesson Instructor & Photographer, NPH Mexico

Whitney Janicki, Caregiver, NPH Mexico

Katie Nelson, SLP Assistant, NPH Guatemala
I am working as the speech therapist in Guatemala. I could make a long list of the incredible moments I've had in the past 8 months here. There are little moments every day I look forward to like walking lazily arm in arm with a couple of the girls and chatting, passing the littlest kids every morning on the way to school and saying good morning to each one, and hugging goodnight to the girls in my home every night before I head back. These are the moments that make the feeling of this being home undeniable.
Brittney Byrd, Nurse, NPH Guatemala
I am three months into my year as a volunteer nurse at NPH-Guatemala and I feel confident saying volunteering with NPH is the hardest thing and the best thing I've ever done. Being a volunteer is tough; there are countless challenges that accompany learning a new language, and living in a culture and country that is not your own. But these challenges pale in comparison to the joy that the children have brought into my life. I have realized it is the small moments with the children, that is what makes it all worth it. These little moments are by far the best. When a child runs up to give me a hug, shouts my name from across the soccer field or waves to me at mass to come sit with them; holding a child's hand as they have stitches removed, or reading bedtime stories with a sick child spending the night in the clinic; these are the moments that fill my heart and make me overjoyed to be a part of the NPH family.
Willis Allen, Activities Coordinator, NPH Guatemala
Matthew Callans, Montessori ESL teacher, NPH Guatemala

Claire Magnuson, Women’s Empowerment, NPH Honduras
NPH has turned me into a person I would not have recognized a year ago. In all the best ways. This complicated, frustrating, loving, and incredibly strong family has shown me what it means to be human, and they’ve accepted me unconditionally as a human and as a new part of their family. Whether it’s from my Chicas Poderosas, my Hijas in hogar (household), or my fellow volunteers, I feel as though I’m always learning: about society, about love, and about myself. I am so grateful to NPH for the unconditional love it’s given me and taught me to give, and for introducing me to another side of myself.

Monica Meeks, Holy Family Surgery Center, NPH Honduras
15 months later, I am still in Honduras! I decided to extend my service at NPH in order to help start a surgical outcomes research program at the Surgery Center. I also am enjoying having a few more months with the lovely ladies of Hogar Guadalupe. It's sad to think that my time to return home is drawing near, but I'm so grateful for the wonderful experience I've had volunteering at NPH. It truly has been the best year and a half of my life.
Alex Hanel, Communication Officer, NPH Honduras
As the Communication Officer in Honduras, I am lucky to have the opportunity to work and spend time with both children and staff from all areas of the home. I found out about NPH through high school trips to Guatemala, and jumped at the opportunity to spend a full year after college. I get to spend my nights with the oldest boys, 15-18 years old, and still am continuously learning from them and the rest of the kids about how important and beautiful family can be, biological or otherwise. It has been a great but challenging nine months so far, and I'm looking forward to what's to come as I wrap up my year. 
Lauren Pach, Caregiver, NPH Honduras
As a tía for the babies of NPH Honduras, my days are always filled with laughter, tears, stories, songs, hugs, and kisses. It has been so rewarding to watch the children grow and learn over the last nine months of my service. I have watched kids take their first steps, say their first words, and go to school for the first time. I am thankful for every single one of them and the love and friendship that they give me. 
Alexandra Hickman, Holy Family Surgery Center Brigade Coordinator, NPH Honduras
My time spent at NPH so far has been the most amazing experience of my life. Though I am still young, I hope that I will take with me for the rest of my life what I have learned from these kids: to love without fear, to be happy with what you have, and to realize that life itself is a blessing. The kids love in unexplainable ways, they are happy even though they are from backgrounds and situations that children should never even know about, and they live life like it is a blessing. Every day here is a reminder of why NPH is such an important and special place.
Josh Pfau, Tutor, NPH Honduras
A quote from our director, Stefan Feuerstein, my first week at NPH describes how I wish to spend my time here: "If you allow your heart to open fully... you will experience love." This has become a mantra I use when spending time with our kids. Making an effort to be open means becoming incredibly vulnerable but it is necessary for developing deep and lasting relationships. When he said "allow your heart to open" it implies that it takes a constant and conscious effort. This effort yields the fruits of our labor; love.
Erin Comber, Teacher, NPH Honduras
If you told me that I would live in Tegucigalpa, Honduras for over a year awhile back, I would probably tell you that you are crazy. Yet, moving to Honduras and working with Nuestros Pequeños Hermanos has been an amazing experience for me. My days are always filled with excitement: teaching English in the Montessori school, tutoring 10 to 15 year olds, and working in an hogar for adults with special needs. I have fallen in love with the culture, country, and people here. I treasure every hug, every time I hear “Teacher!” screamed from across the ranch, all the dance/ Zumba parties, and each great conversation. I am really excited to continue to grow, learn, and love as I continue my time here.
Katie Kaiser, Holy Family Surgery Center, NPH Honduras
The days here are full but life overall is simple and really sweet. I walk a mile to and from work, past cows and horses. I take cold showers and kill cockroaches daily. I sometimes start work before dawn (or right after), but the stars and the birdsongs at that time of day make it worth it. I get a lot of hugs and I learn a TON every day. The days consist of three main things: time with my fellow volunteers and housemates, my job in the surgery center (aka the “quirofano”) and hogar (Spanish for home) with the 4-8 year old girls. We spend 6-8 pm each night and every other weekend in hogar. Mine is with the 4-8 year-old girls in Casa Suyapa, the house with the youngest kiddos on the ranch. Each night, we eat dinner together and help them get ready for bed. As my parent friends can imagine, it gets pretty chaotic sometimes trying to get 16 girls in (and out) of the shower, jammies on, teeth and hair brushed and in to bed. But the reward for all the chaos are the little voices coming out of the dark asking --"Duermeme?" or essentially "will you cuddle with me while I fall asleep?" Having a six year fall asleep in your arms while you sing to them is pretty much the best feeling in the world. I don't know much yet about where the girls came from or their lives before NPH, but I am grateful for that ignorance. It gives me the opportunity to know them for who they are now and not what has happened to them. I can already tell they will be the hardest part about leaving this place.
Jason Abbott, Holy Family Surgery Center, NPH Honduras

Grace Callow, Nurse, NPH Honduras

Noah Forrest, Tutor (7th – 9th grade), NPH Honduras
Morgan Gagnon, Nurse, NPH Honduras
Lauren Nun, P.E Teacher, NPH Honduras
Kelsey Agather, Sponsorship and Communications Assistant, NPH Dominican Republic
It is very hard to summarize being a volunteer for NPH into only a few words; however, being surrounded by so many open, accepting, and loving children teaches us many things. We learn our flaws do not matter as much as we think because everyone has flaws. We learn to laugh and seize the moment. We learn to dance like no one is watching. It is marvelous to walk outside and hear a child scream your name or your nickname (mine’s crazy), turn your head and watch as one, two or three children race toward you to give you a hug, nothing, absolutely nothing beats this moment. You have a rough day at work, or you are feeling homesick, the children here always have the remedy. 
Alexa Bryan-Capellas, ESL teacher, NPH Dominican Republic
I'm currently serving at NPH Dominican Republic as a primary school English language teacher. Along with working in the school, I am also offering classes in the neighboring bateyes and starting a few outreach projects there. My house placement is with the ingresos (the newest boys coming into the NPH family) and while we are a full house, we are a very happy one!
Hannah Mulhausen,Visitor Coordinator, NPH Dominican Republic
Emily Doyle, Communication Officer, NPH Nicaragua
My time as an NPH volunteer has been the most challenging and the most rewarding experience of my life. From getting to know all my coworkers, to holding every conversation in Spanish, and especially to starting and ending my days with "my" 5- to 10-year-old boy, I know that this is something unique and wonderful that I will never forget! I'm so grateful to be a part of the NPH family.


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