It’s been a few days since I last posted something on my blog. I’ve had a mixed week, some incredible luck and, unfortunately, some bad luck. My morale is a little low due to a few things to do with Casa Alianza. More of that later. First, the good luck!
Last Wednesday, I went to play bingo for the first time in my life. It was at the Hotel Maya in Tegucigalpa, which I hear is the oldest hotel in Honduras but I think that’s a big fat lie. The bingo was to raise money for a diabetics organisation here in Honduras which is run by Rossy’s (the mother) mum, so it was a good cause (this isn’t the start of a gambling addiction, so don’t worry folks). I’d had miserable luck all night. I wasn’t getting anywhere near the numbers needed for the prizes and I was expecting to walk home 100 lemps less (the price of the ticket). I was close to falling asleep. In the last game, I even contemplated on handing over my bingo numbers to my Honduran brother, Diego, but I played on just for the sake of it. One by one my numbers kept popping up. It wasn’t until I was missing two numbers that I envisaged myself winning. Diego at this point was trying to follow two bingo plates and was getting terribly excited, and there were yelps and screams of excitement coming from the two thousand odd people playing in the giant room. Diego shouted out, “Falto solo dos” – “I’m missing only two”, I replied, “Yo uno” (me, one). He pretty much flung his two bingo plates over his shoulder and tried to grab mine. Strangely enough, that day, I had done an interview with a boy who’d been with the Mara 18 gang. He told me the 18 gang had brought him a lot of “mala suerte” (bad luck) in life. Luckily for me, it was the number I needed, and it was the number that the bingo caller read out. At first, I blubbered something in disbelief. Diego than screamed, “DIGA BINGO, VERGAS!!” (Say bingo, you dick!!). The rest is history. I was called up in front of everyone to have my photo taken and there, they planted in my hand, a return ticket to San Jose, Costa Rica, courtesy of Copa Airlines. I have still to arrange the dates, but I’m looking forward to it, obviously!
I am going to town of Pespire for a couple of weeks from the 1st to 14th August. I thought I’d been there last month but I actually went to somewhere called Valle with my mate Hazel. It’s in the south and is extremely hot. I’m helping ICYE with some Canadian volunteers who are coming. I desperately need a break from Casa Alianza, which I will go on to now.
Unfortunately, I am coming to the end of my tether there. I feel desperately disappointed with it. I have said before that when I enter Casa Alianza, I’m just left to do what I want. Some people would see this as a blessing, but me no! I am here to help. There is no programme for volunteers and I don’t see how I’m helping the kids anymore. They seem bored with me and I feel bored there. For the children in the programme, who are actually living there, I don’t feel I have anything more to offer them. I have advised them and tried to motivate them in life, but they seem to want to play football or look for girlfriends or boyfriends. I have lost their respect somewhere along the long and they pay no attention to me. They only see me as a source to sweets, wool or the odd mango. I only brought these in as an incentive. Some days, I have arranged times to help them with their homework and they don’t show up or disappear somewhere else or change the time (three hours later – it’s a Latin country, it should be expected), but they complain when I have to go home and claim I’m not helping them. I have done pretty much all the interviews I need to do for the book, but I have been typing it up in my spare time and I feel it’s very unfair on me and the family I’m living with. I feel anti-social and I haven’t been enjoying myself the way I should be in a different country on the other side of the world. I was told through another person that one of the managers said that I wasn’t allowed to use the computers in Casa Alianza. This turns out to be false (a member of staff spreading bad blood about another, leaving me feeling confused and a bit paranoid). However, the computers always seem to be occupied. Also, when I was set this task, I told many people about the project but it seemed to go through one ear and out the other, and it wasn’t passed on through the team from the managers. Now I question whether it will be published at all, whether I should continue with it and if the last few months have been a waste of my time. When I feel this way, I feel desperately sorry for the kids who have been expecting their stories to be published. The communication has been really poor here. People don’t tell me what’s going on, guide me or oversee me, which is dangerous especially with the type of clients and the backgrounds they are from. Unfortunately the lack of communication is contagious because I don’t feel I can communicate with many members of staff. Because of the lack of supervision, I felt this was the way things were done here, so I assumed that I could go and work on the street as and when I wanted. This turns out not to be the case, and now I am only allowed to go one or two days a week in certain areas and seeing only certain things. I feel far too limited by this and, again, I feel my skills are being wasted. Working on the street is actual humanitarian work, but I am told it’s too dangerous, even though I’ve not yet had problems and neither have the team. It seems if you try to be assertive or explain what you would like to do, they like to put you back in your box. I don’t think volunteers should be treated this way. We are here to help. If I am a hindrance, I shouldn’t have been invited to volunteer there.
I have been in regular contact with ICYE as of late to see if they can help sort things out. I had a meeting with Casa Alianza last Monday and I agreed to see how things planned out over the next few days. Unfortunately I still feel bored and very stressed about it. It might mean changing projects, although that will mean starting all over again and I feel I would let down the kids. It might mean doing another project part-time, so I can continue with the book, which may or may not be published.
So this is the situation. It’s hard at the moment. My confidence is low and I feel two weeks away in Pespire doing something else couldn’t have come at a better time, especially that all expenses are paid. I need to clear my head and see what I’m really learning and giving children who have had horrible experiences. I can’t let them down, but, for sure, things can’t continue the way they are, or I fear my own health will suffer. I feel confused as to what to do, and quite stressed and down. It’s not a nice situation to be in when you’re far away from home. Nonetheless, it’s a challenge. I asked for a challenge and I’ve got one. I didn’t expect it to be a challenge like this!
I would like to thank Ania “Stedders” Brown, Laura Ward and Rudolfo from ICYE for their encouraging words recently, and also the contacts of other projects people have been giving me in Tegucigalpa, like Hazel, Ludim and Rossy.
Ultimately, I feel lucky to have close friends here and at home. Thank you.
If I have any more news I’ll let you know soon.