Monthly Archives: September 2013

New Casa Alianza blog

Dear all,

I am posting a new blog which is updated and run by Casa Alianza UK. Many of the updates on the blog are from volunteers and former volunteers, like myself, talking about their experiences of working with street kids, the activities they are doing and the harsh realities of street kids and youths at social risk.

First of all, the new facebook page is: https://www.facebook.com/CasaAlianzaUK.
The website is: http://www.casa-alianza.org.uk/.
The new blog is: https://casaalianzauk.wordpress.com/2013/09/27/volunteer-with-casa-alianza-nicaragua/.
And you can also follow them on twitter on: @CasaAlianzaUK

I still think about my experiences at Casa Alianza everyday, and how much it has motivated me in my own life, seeing young people strive forward despite the odds, despite their adversity, and how I should do the same. Last Monday, it was lovely bumping into a couple of girls, Sara and Scarlett, who were both in Casa Alianza, but are both now running a small beauty salon upstairs to Casa Domingo. Both the girls gave me an enormous hug and told me how much they enjoyed me teaching them English. Scarlett, I always remembered, played football amongst the boys. She had a calm character and I admired her a lot for continuing throughout games even when she was hearing sexist and harassing comments from some of the guys. She also enjoyed singing. I remember letting her listen to my iPod and she began practicing Whatever by Oasis. She changed a couple of the lyrics to Spanish, which gave it a bit of a Latin feel, as well as changing some of the notes around, to give it a bachata beat. It made me proud to see her doing well.

Sara I didn’t know so well. I knew her boyfriend a little better actually, who was in Casa Alianza and also has connections with Casa Domingo. I haven’t heard from him in a while. She was always polite, always dancing and being cheeky, but in a fun way. Sara always hobbled a bit. I was curious about her injury. I never asked her directly, so I asked a member of staff. The staff said she was tortured by someone in her family. It brings back the harsh reality of these kids, though I am proud to see her flourishing doing something she likes, and she’s smiling.

Yesterday was the anniversary of Casa Alianza. I had really wanted to go, but unfortunately, thanks to a cold, I was unable to. Having been told about some injections I could have to get rid of the cold almost immediately, I went to a pharmacy to see what it was all about. The process involved three jabs over three days, one in both arm and one in my right buttock. I asked them whether it was just a preventative flu jab, but they insisted it wasn’t and I would feel better the next day (after each jab). Well, after three days of feeling drowsy having had chemicals pumped into my body, I’m still sneezing and snotty and coughing with a sore throat that feels like a crisp is permanently lodged there. I feel a bit conned having paid 200 odd lemps, and the next time I have a cold, I think I will just have to accept that it will take the customary week or week and a half of nose blowing, paracetamol and drinking loads of tea with lime and honey to shift the pesky bug out of my body. As stated, it meant that I was unable to go to the Casa Alianza anniversary.

In the last couple of months, I have gone to a couple of dance productions at the Teatro Bonilla in Tegucigalpa, performed by a youth dance group which one of the boys in Casa Alianza attends. He’s a great lad, absolutely hilarious in fact, who does a clown sketch when Casa Alianza have an event or activity. He likes me to call him by his English name, John Charles, so I do so. He is originally from San Pedro Sula and his three sisters have all come through Casa Alianza. Two of them have kids now and are working, and they are still very much part of the Casa Alianza family, from what I gather. I remember the first time I met him: he told me that he was going to be my number one student. While the English classes festered a bit and turned out to be homework classes, he was right: he was one of the best students. He was always there, pen, paper, books in hand (which some rich kids in Macris School can’t even manage) and he would revise intensively for tests. He was also suffering from post-traumatic stress and having very dark flash-backs of time when some gang-members broke into his house and threatened to kill his mother. Like the girls above, he is now flourishing. With help from the psychologists and counseling in Casa Alianza, he seems to have calmed down a lot. With me, he’s been very open about what he’s been through. He’s a joker, like many 18 year olds, but he still has a mature head on his shoulders. He talks to me about the girls that he likes and how should he approach them, which I would then have to advise him on (not that I’m an expert, but he seems to think so). He is a curious young man with a million and one questions, some of them a bit personal (he once asked if my girlfriend and I have had sex, and how often, which often gets him the blunt response of MIND YOUR OWN BLEEDIN’ BUSINESS). But I always try to give him a lot of time, when I can.

I thought I would include a couple of pictures below of the dance event below. After the event, by the way, I gave him a bar of Dairy Milk. He said he shared it. I don’t believe him! Enjoy!

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I know that this isn’t from Casa Alianza Honduras, but I thought I would include a short video from Casa Alianza Mexico to explain a bit more about what Casa Alianza does in other parts of Latin America, where other volunteers are participating. It is in Spanish, but hopefully that might inspire a few of you back home to learn a bit more of the lovely Latin lingo. Enjoy!

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TV STAR

Hi all,

Hoping that all goes well and they liked the interview, the show Simplemente Dorys should be airred this Sunday at 5pm on channel 5 (I think, but you might have to channel surf) in Honduras. For those in the UK, I will try and put something online once it’s done.

The interview was certainly interesting. I had an idea about the questions. Then they changed it a little, which included a woman talking about an issue she was having with economics and relationships or something, and I had to advise her on it. My answer was “no sé” because I didn’t understand what was being said and it can of threw me a bit. I am usually great with helping with their problems, but there was much evidence of that in the interview, obviously. So, you will probably see a confused chele face when it goes on air.

“Now,” as the Monty Python used to say, “for something completely different.” I am going to include a video of someone doing a reiki self-treatment session; a healing technique that I have been practising for a number of years now in moments of doubt or when I’ve been going through something personal to renew my energy. It hasn’t really caught on in Honduras, so I thought I would take the liberty of doing so. However, if any Hondurans reading this do know of any Reiki healers in the Tegucigalpa area, please let me know.


I’m going to be on national Honduran television

Dear all,

That’s right! You read the title correctly. I’m going to be on Honduran television. I’ve always felt talented, beautiful and charming enough to be the face of the media. Well, my chance has come, on Simplemente Dorys. To those who don’t know me, don’t worry, I’m not that much of an eejit, but I am excited nonetheless.

It’s a talk-show, which my friend Luis Mejia works for (Luis also went to London with ICYE) with interview of what it’s like for a foreigner living in Honduras. I’ll be mentioning the book, which should be published next year by the way, Casa Alianza, Wilson Palacios, my friends, Mormons, Tatumbla, trujillo, my gripe with being called chele and gringo, and I will probably embarrass my Pamela, my girlfriend, as much as I can.

It should go out to the public on Sunday. Hopefully they will put it on to youtube and I’ll put a link to it on this blog.

To change the subject completely, I have been reading a Ray Bradbury book of late, The Illustrated Man. So far so good. I haven’t finished it, but his style of writing reminds me of Hemingway. Straight to the point and matter of fact, which my friend Frank pointed out, probably came from the fact that he was a journalist beforehand, like Hemingway. I recommend this book anyway.

I have also just read Here Comes Everybody, by James Fearney, who was the accordionist in the Pogues. It’s a wonderful memoir, which starts with how the Pogues formed, how they rose, up to the point they sacked Shane MacGowan from the band. I, as many know, am I massive fan of the Pogues. I’ve been to see them three times, and I haven’t even done that for Noel Gallagher. That’s how much esteem I have of them. It was a delight to read this book. Fearney is obviously a seasoned writer, who has a great range of vocabulary, which meant that I had to keep a dictionary very close by throughout trudging through it. It also went into detail about the state of Shane MacGowan’s drinking ruined things, and how he became so unreliable. As stated, I have been to three Pogues concerts, and I am ashamed to say, I laughed at some of Shane’s antics on stage. His drinking habits are celebrated by many people, which takes away the sadness of the fact that he has wasted a lot of his song-writing talent on drink. Shane MacGowan is something of a hero for me, and like the saying goes, you should never meet your heros. It mentions his prima dona moments and his arrogance, which you can probably imagine from such a talent, but also how, probably through the strain of touring or pressure of fame, this made him even worse on drugs or on the bottle. The only criticism of the book is how we don’t learn how the group as a whole dealt with the fame. Maybe they didn’t deal with it very well, which is why they split up in the early-90s (but now back together). And we don’t realise how James dealt with fame. No one in the band made that much money from it, due to their manager taking a large slice of the profits. But otherwise, it’s great, especially if you’re a Pogues fan. To celebrate that, and the fact Luis has been to London, I am going to include one of my favourite Pogues songs, London You’re a Lady. I like to think to myself that the song is about Birmingham, but it’s not. Oh well.

As for now, I must put some make-up on my forehead after I somehow managed bang myself against a window handle last night and left a nice little red mark for all of Honduras to see.


Every step

Hi all,

I do this every once in a while. I go off-line and don’t do any updates. I saw that my last update was in June when I interviewed Nelly. I was planning on doing a lot more interviews. It’s not that I forget about the blog. I always remember it’s here and I plan to write what’s been happening in “el país de Catrachos”. In fact, many interesting things have happened in the past couple of months. I’m not wanting to go into detail about certain events. I don’t think I need to. I’ve had to dust myself down a little, adjust my way of thinking to be more positive, confident and organised. Most people who know me, on the most part, know I’m quite positive and quietly confident (although I’m not always that quiet about it), but sometimes we can slip up a little and feel like we’re in a negative spiral. The only way to stop it is beating yourself up and realise the good things you’ve done in life, and the people who love and support you. It’s also not to be too judgemental of others or yourself. Negativity, like positivity, is conducive. It feeds on to other thoughts and how you react to things in life. It’s okay to be critical, but remember that other people can make mistakes or have their own personalities and wealth of experience, just like yourself.

I’ve read a couple of self-help books of late, one of which is called Mindful, which was recommended and bought for me by my lovely sister, who’s been through an awful lot in the last couple months (a lot more than me in fact), but has come fluttering, and now enjoying a wonderful, once-in-a-life-time trip to Australia. Sometimes shit happens and we just have to deal with the best we can, as someone told me who works in Macris. And then sometimes we have to make decisions, which aren’t always popular and they seem illogical at time, but we have to make them, for health and happiness reasons. Sometimes it may feel like a step backwards, but you know the result will push you three, maybe four, maybe five, steps forward, when you have a positive frame of mind.

This morning, while sitting on the bog (and everyone knows the best theories, books and ideas of art came to their creators while they straining on the device that some believe was invented by a man called Thomas Crapper), I thought of a little poem, a little pick me up, something that I thought I would share with you. It’s not a work of art, but if you’re feeling a bit crap, go to you’re toilet, read this little poem, feel inspired, and do you’re best to get on with life. It’s short and easy. Enjoy!

Every step

Every step is a step higher,
Every move moves you in the right direction,
Every effort you put in will get you where you want to be,
Every good feeling on the way will support you,
And every thought you have, should, and will, be positive.
But if you think positive from the beginning,
Your journey will be that much sweeter.

On top of that, I would like to add a self-hypnosis video on youtube. It’s great to do, even if you’re happy and fine. I started it 10 or 15 years ago when I went through a bout of depression. It helps me every now and again, like Reiki does. It’s like meditation. Excuse the Australian accent. I hope you enjoy it. The video that is. Not the Australian accent.

I would like to finish by saying that I received some advice that I was slightly surprised to hear from a person in their position. The person who gave me the advice was a nice enough bloke, but it was a piece of advice that I did not appreciate. This advice was to fake it until you make it. For teachers or performers, I understand that if they are nervous then they need to buck it up and find ways to control those nerves. Do the best you can, and nobody, not even yourself, can ask any more of you. If you want to improve, be a better a person or do a different career, then learn how to do it; be that person who want to be. But never fake it to make it there. That’s my advice.