The decisions we made prior to this predicament did not envision an abrupt change in our projections. If I think about the months before I left Chile before coming to Honduras to volunteer as an Occupational Therapist, I had in mind how challenging and enriching it would be to live and share with each one of the people on at Rancho Santa Fe, experience a new culture, integrate to a new and great family, get to know the country, to live with people from different parts of the world, in addition to having a new experience at work level. I remember when I had the interview to volunteer at NPH, one of the things that was most emphasized was the importance of flexibility and adaptation to change; you cannot imagine the relevance that this would have and how fundamental it would be in my role as a volunteer to put this in practice.
With the arrival of COVID-19 in March in the Honduras, at the ranch, as with all families, the necessary safeguarding measures were taken to care for each of its members and that implied a change in routines, habits and ways of relating, which persist until now. As for my work as a therapist, this had a very big change. Since the school had frozen classes and the priority was focused on the maximum support for the health team, my days were geared towards monitoring high school boys and girls and university students that had returned to the ranch and were in quarantine, as well as contributing to the protocol of entry of the workers and being available to what was required.
Regarding the homes, we had to keep the minimum contact and that also implied social distancing. I think this is what I have found hardest adapting to: seeing the boys, girls and the “abuelos” in the elderly home, and not being able to hug them or maintain any physical contact. Currently, and thanks to the permanent support of those who work in the school area, I have been able to implement a dance movement therapy project for Montessori girls and boys, delivering tools according to their needs, since it is often difficult for them to verbalize our emotions, and therefore body language is of great help in these instances where we are faced with permanent changes, in addition to constant uncertainty, to try to channel what the children experience and give relevance to the mental health of each of them.
Being part of a great family involves great challenges at the moment, but at the same time, it is a great support network. You are never alone and there is always someone caring for you and others. It is not only adults who have that beautiful ability to provide love to the girls and boys, but also the children who are permanently giving love and strength to each of us. I am extremely grateful that I have had to live through the global pandemic with NPH. Every difficult moment, even the days when you are tired or feeling unproductive, it becomes easier to face when you are accompanied, full of love and seeing the children smiling, which reminds me of the main reason for me being here: for them! They do not even need to do great things; even the smallest details are important such as sharing an activity, a conversation, playing with them, accompanying them on walks, supporting them, watching a movie and spending time with them.
I have learned, thanks to everyone who make up the NPH family, the importance of love and resilience, to see how each of the workers, especially the caregivers of the homes, leave their families to be here with the boys and girls: it is admirable. I remember at the beginning of the pandemic, hearing them say “Yes, I am going to take care of my children at home”. It is inspiring to see the vocation that each has for their work and the strength of staying away from their families for such a long time.