Coming from a stressed out Nick. I have a lot of writing to do for the book. It feels quite therapeutic to be writing this after researching about the Barras Bravas (Honduran football hooligans), Maras, domestic violence, drugs and sex exploitation. People are still reluctant to let me use computers in Casa Alianza which leaves me writing back at house to the crack of dawn. I can’t say that I will be volunteering for some time after this experience. But there you go. The kids are funny at Casa Alianza. They are brilliant. The things they say and do are hilarious. They make me turn up. If it weren’t for them, I would have probably gone by now. Don’t get me wrong, there are some really good staff there too who really work hard with the kids, and help me out. One of those is Caroline Hernandez, who runs a computer workshop, is a great joker, she understands my position and she makes me feel really welcome everyday. Another is Lucindo, who has been helping me a lot with finding stats and information on the Maras. Lucindo is the Casa Alianza football coach too. I expect some kids to come up and ask for water, money or sweets or whatever. However, a couple of members of staff do it too, and then call me a cheap-skate when I say no, even though they have a salary (one of them even boasts that they are a trained solicitor). I hate that. I really do hate that. Just because I’m a gringo to them, it’s a symbol that I’m loaded. I have told this person what I think, and that volunteers don’t get paid, and I’m not loaded at all, but they don’t get it! I find it insulting, disrespectful and really negative for my morale, especially when I bring in Cadbury’s chocolate, sweets, wool for the kids and staff and take photos for them, as well as write a book for them in my spare time. It’s soul-destroying in a way, that this person feels I’m of use for one reason only. I don’t understand people like that. To an extent, it’s a cultural difference, but in any cultural transition, this is a sign of disrespect. Selfish. We all have a bit of it in us (I do, I know), but this person hasn’t a clue. Anyway, f–k them. I have a tattoo on my calf in Spanish, which funnily enough I had done in Acocks Green in Brum. It says, “Nunca te rindas” – “Never Give Up”. I can’t let these kids down. I would only let myself down. These kids have been let down enough in life and I refuse to let myself be one of those people who they look back on with regret. Do as I would be done by. I don’t like it when people treat me like shit, so I won’t be that way to other people. F–k them and their bags of water!
Now I’m going to focus on something positive about Casa Alianza. Tomorrow is the anniversary – 24 years – directed and started up by José Manuel Capellin, a Spaniard from Gijon, who I wrote about a week or so ago. He had a goal to get kids off the street, away from poverty, the neglect and brutal beatings they receive from Police and gangs. He saw something that needed changing and he is doing just that. It started in 1987. There are now houses in Mexico, Nicaragua and Guatemala, which he directs. I have a lot of admiration for him personally. God knows how many lives he’s saved. It’s on-going battle for any organisation that fights for human rights of people who are discriminated against (the staff at Refugee Council or in the field will also know what I mean). There is a video for the kids tomorrow with lots of pictures of which I’ve taken, with the background music of “We are the Children” by Michael Jackson. I prefer the song “Man in Mirror”, because it reminds me of José Manuel Capellin and his goal. So here it is – a dedication to him and Casa Alianza.
I wanted to go to Yuscaran on Sunday. Don’t ask me how, but I managed to lock myself in the house. I have my own quarter, which I locked my key inside. This also had the key to the main gate to let me out, but it was double locked by Carlos and Rossy. I was furious with myself. I didn’t go out the night before so I would be up ready for a long day. I did have the keys to the main house though so I was able to sit down and write all day without the distractions of Facebook and WordPress!!! It wasn’t all a disaster. But trust myself to lock myself in the house. Doh!
Today I was in the National Museum of Art with the kids in Casa Alianza. They were making artistic cardboard cut outs of themselves, as well as paintings of flowers. Some of the artwork was staggering. I am jealous of them, I won’t deny it. They can keep between the lines for starters, but some of them put a lot of energy and life into their work. Some have amazing imaginations and find it easy to put it on paper. If they work at it, they could make a living from it. Motivation and confidence is a problem, as well as behaviour. They started dunking their hands in paint and marching around the museum looking for something to demolish. The security guards had a little word with Jorge and me on the way out. Anyway, here is a bit of their art!
I was in 1331 Sala Cafe tonight, near the centre of Tegus, to meet an Irish mate called Andy Morrow, who had lived in Costa Rica and was able to give me advice on what to do and where to go. He also played the fiddle for the third anniversary of the cafe. It was quite surreal listening to good ol’ Irish music in a land where regaeton, salsa, punta and bochatas rule the airwaves, and it took me back to hanging out at some Irish pubs in Brum. Really enjoyed it. Here’s a couple of pictures of the evening. I must admit, the fiddle always sends me off into a lovely trance. Cheers Andy!