Focusing on the Needs
First comes trust, then comes the therapy.
October 13, 2015 - Peru
|Doing a speech therapy exercise.|
What does it take to be a volunteer at NPH? It takes courage, curiosity, empathy, motivation, and flexibility. These are the first things that come to my mind after being a volunteer at NPH Peru for ten months.
When I came here I had a rough idea of what to expect. I knew that I will be eating a lot of rice and potatoes for the next thirteen months and that I will be working a lot! I also knew that I was going to be the first speech therapist at NPH Peru, and that I will be spending a lot of time getting therapy materials, making games myself (that got much easier after I got a laminator!) and collecting donations to pay for materials that I can’t make myself.
It took quite a while to get the therapies started because the children were on vacation until March and there were activities planned almost every day. That also gave me time to prepare materials and do evaluations of the children to see who needed speech therapy.
When the children went back to school in March it was easier to make a “horario” (schedule) and the therapies could take place on a regular basis. For me, this was when a very exciting time because I was curious to see if I can help the children and teach them how to improve their speech and language disorders. I was very motivated and spent a lot of time preparing fun activities and exercises for them.
After some time I was a bit worried because I could not see as much improvement as I was hoping in many children. For a while I was frustrated because my expectations were higher and I started questioning myself what I was doing wrong. It took me awhile and after several conversations with the other volunteers, my family and friends at home, I began to realize that most of the time the children just need special attention. Also, in order for that to improve they have to get to know you and trust you. As the children have such a difficult past and have been disappointed by many people, it took them long to have confidence in me.
I think that this is one of the biggest challenges that volunteers have to face. We come to the NPH Home as professionals and want to do our best to help, support and brighten up the children’s lives. It takes time to build up a good relationship with the children and sometimes this means, putting the therapy-goals behind and just focus on what the child needs in that very moment.
Thanks to all the children, I will leave NPH Peru as a mature and self-confident person who has learned that the quality-time you spend with the children is the most enriching and valuable gift. And that, if you are courageous, curious, motivated and flexible, you will have the year of your life with the NPH family, which will always be a part of you.