Casa Luz : Volunteering

March 22, 2010 at 9:39 pm 2 comments

.:{Embracing Little Victories}:.

After about a month, I am finally writing a blog post about my volunteer work at Casa Luz. Why did I wait so long? In the beginning, I had mixed feelings about my work with the young girls and their kids, and wanted to feel out the place before I shared my experience with others. I didn’t want to say one thing, only to realize that I really meant another. That being said, here has been my experience thus far.

In the beginning, I was pretty disappointed with my volunteer placement. From AIDE’s website, my work at Casa Luz sounded more… valuable, than what I was experiencing. My first day, I showed up in the kids daycare where I basically just ran around after the kids, attempting to keep them under control in my wobbly-worded spanish, not knowing what the rules/expectations were of the kids or of myself. Besides my initial interview with the director, I had no real orientation or introduction to Casa Luz, the staff, or the habits of the house. I definitely felt like I had been thrown into the water, with no idea how to swim. But as I am here for 4 months, the reality of the situation was, Sink or Swim, and I was not ready to sink—I had to keep myself afloat—so I came to work each day telling myself that if I wanted my volunteer work to be worthwhile, I had to try. Every accomplishment starts first with the decision to try. And now a month later, I am feeling the little victories of my efforts.

  • The moms who were initially reserved about talking with me, probably because I was new, shy, and the fact that we didn’t understand one another, are now asking me and the other volunteer questions like, “How do you say “muchacho guapo” in English?” Which is now why we often hear the girls referring to themselves or others as “hotties.”
  • I actually know how to talk to the kids now, and can understand most of their toddler spanish jibberish.
  • Me and the other volunteer finally have a set schedule that is reasonable and makes sense. When I first started my hours were a little random, and I felt like I was either not needed because I was working at the same time as many others, I was being taken advantage of, or I was unsure of my schedule. Now, after the lovely cook talked with us and the volunteer coordinators, one of us volunteers works in the mornings to early afternoon and the other from the early afternoon to late afternoon.
  • Although he had to leave Casa Luz last Friday, my daily “animal noise”/”keep him occupied and distracted” time with one of the kids in the house was finally paying off as he started out only knowing how to sound like a horse, cow and dog, and afterwards knew how to “talk” like a dog, horse, cow, cat, pig, elephant, rooster and duck.
  • And although I still feel like I am doing more “babysitting” than anything else… and that am doing work that is much different from what I expected/originally wanted, I am happy with my placement. With every learned animal noise, laugh from a kid, smile from one of the moms, moment cleaning dishes, jumping dance in the daycare, and spoonful of food eaten (who knew toddlers would hate eating so much-oh how their world will change), I know that in my own small way I am making a difference in the world and that’s all that really matters.


Entry filed under: Casa Luz, Little Victories, Ninos. Tags: , , , , , .

Playa Dominical Part 2 Writing for La Vida Idealist

2 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Erin Campbell  |  March 23, 2010 at 12:00 pm

    Kelsey – you are an amazing person and very brave for going to a place not knowing what to expect. Even if it seems that you are not making much of a difference or are not doing exactly what you thought you would be, know that you ARE making a difference just by being there. I bet everyone (Casa Luz, new friends, crazy bartenders and your host family) have brighter lives now just because they had the joy of knowing you even for a little period of time. Hang in there and enjoy the adventure. Hugs!

  • 2. chris gryniewicz  |  March 24, 2010 at 10:29 am

    kelsey–what an experience you dove into and I am so proud of you!! Yes, you make a DIFFERENCE, in so many ways. Probably in more ways than you know. Many hugs, Mom


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