Olancho Aid has a relationship with the orphanage located just down the street from the main office. Some of the children at the orphanage attend the foundation’s schools through scholarships facilitated by the foundation. The orphanage is run by nuns who care for the children and organize everything from their schooling to their meals. The nuns do an amazing job caring for the children, but they sometimes struggle with getting the children help with their homework, especially for the kids at the bilingual school who do everything in English.
Often times this is where volunteers fill in the gaps. My roommate, who also teaches at the bilingual schools, and myself help out tutoring at the orphanage a few days of the week after school. I try to go to the orphanage every Monday and Tuesday after school. I take the same bus as the kids who live at the orphanage and get off with them. When I arrive I go to the back room where the kids do their homework. There is a white board in the room and chairs and desks as well.
Every day is different and I never know what to expect, sometimes the room is packed with kids of all ages doing their schoolwork and other days there are only 2 or 3 kids. I usually start by asking the kids what homework they have and it usually comes to me asking them to show me their agenda (where they write down their homework) since they often try to get out of doing work. Some days I am helping with middle school math, some days it is just critiquing the handwriting of the kindergartners as they practice their letters. Whatever it is though, this is definitely my favorite part of teaching in Honduras.
I love going to the orphanage because whenever I walk in the kids are always eager to see me and give me a hug. The little ones often get the door for me and walk me back to the study room. Being able to help a student one on one with their homework is really as fulfilling as it gets. Explaining things that the kids don’t get and seeing them come to an understanding right there in front of your eyes is very gratifying. Most of the kids are pretty smart, some of them just have trouble focusing, but all of them are very capable if you put in the time with them.
Another reason that I like going to the orphanage is because it gives me the opportunity to take an interest in the lives of these kids outside of school. They talk to me about what’s going on with their brothers and sisters at the orphanage, what’s going on with their classmates in school, and their upcoming birthdays. They are always eager to ask me questions about myself and love learning more about me and where I come from.
I usually stay at the orphanage until about 4:55 each day. Sometimes I am tutoring kids the entire time, sometimes things wind down early and we can just talk with them, play games, or just hang out. The number one priority though is always homework or studying. I have been fortunate enough to be there for a few birthdays too and these are always fun and special. The kids gather around a cake and sing and get hyped up on sugar and soda. The kids who live there are all different ages ranging from 1 to 20 and there are about 30 of them total. The majority of them are between 4 and 10 so you can imagine what that birthday party is like. We are usually gone everyday walking home by 5pm, although I have stayed for mass a few times.
I care for all of my students, but the children at the orphanage truly have a special place in my heart. Getting to interact with them more personally, hearing about their lives, and helping them with their schoolwork is an experience that I will always remember. These kid have had a profound impact on me and how I see the world, experience love, and approach teaching. I only hope that perhaps a little bit of what I taught them will remain with them as well.