Published: July 25th 2008July 21st 2008
Although I am home and the next few entries will be some days behind, I still want to share my experiences from my last 3 days in El Salvador.
Since I was going to the Center for Malnourished Children today, I was able to sleep in a bit. I didn't leave quite enough time for breakfast so a packet of cookies on the way to the clinic was all I had until lunch. I was very aprehensive about today's visit, since yesterday at the orphanage was really difficult for me. We headed over to the clinic around 9, only a 10 minute walk from the volunteer house. Kathy and Karen had spent a few days there already, so Troy and I were the only newbies. This was a visit I didn't think I would be able to handle, but after talking to other volunteers who had been there I decided it was something on which I did not want to miss out.
The first stop once the gates were opened was the sink, where we washed our hands thoroughly with antibacterial soap. The nurses in the center have to take a lot of precautions as the risk of infection
is so great to these infants, and some have died in the past just from spreading of germs from one baby to another. The clinic, El Vinculo de Amor, or the Love Link, began in 1987 by a couple from Texas, Sam and Julie Hawkins. This nutritional recovery center was built to serve the malnourished and uncared for Salvadoran babies. For more information on this center please click lovelink
I was assigned to work with Jackelin and Mateo, two small infants who were fairly new to the center. When I entered the room, Jackelin was standing in her crib, and the physical therapist Raul was working with Mateo. Jackelin is one year old, and has been at the center for about a month. When she saw me, she immediately raised her arms for me to pick her up. I held her close to me and walked with her around the room, while she waited for her bath. As we waited, two women came in to clean the room, wiping down the mattresses and the cribs with disinfectant. I was told they come clean twice a week. After Jackelin's bath, the nurse dressed her and and I took her
into "La Sala," the living room area to play with her on the mat. I was told that as hard as it is, we were not supposed to hold the babies, because they become so attached and are not able to be held all the time when the volunteers are not there. So we sat on the mat, watched some childrens' videos, and played with the toys. I taught her how to give me a high five, and sang songs to her, one that my Bubby sang to me when I was a little girl.
After a little while, Jackelin fell asleep on the mat, so the nurse took her to her crib and brought Mateo to me. Imagine my surprise when she put him down next to me and he started screaming his head off. I thought maybe he was teething, or didn't feel well, but as it turned out he just doesn't like women! So I didn't feel too badly. He stayed with me for a few minutes but as his crying did not cease the nurse came by to pick him up. Troy had come back from his visit at this point - he was in
a room with three little girls, who he had just fed and put down for naps.
About half an hour went by, and I went to get Jackelin for lunch. I sat her in her high chair and tried to feed her. I had been warned that it might be a difficult feat since she does not eat well, but I was able to get about 1/3 of her lunch down before the nurse came to take over. I played with Jackelin for a little longer on the mat, and then it was time for our group to head back to the volunteer house for lunch. The plan was to go back to the clinic after lunch, but between the heavy downpour and being pretty drained, emotionally and physically, I decided to stay at the volunteer house and not return to the clinic.
Waited for the rest of the group to get back from their excursion to Las Delicias and we headed back to the mercado for some last-minute purchases. Dinner at the house was Pollo Campero, a very popular dish kind of like our KFC, which was delivered by a man on a motorcycle. We had our
Reflection first, before dinner tonight, and heard about one group's experience, who had spent the day at Don Israel's house, 2 hours away. Don Israel is one of the two vigilantes who works at our volunteer house. The group went out there today to put in electricity for Don Israel and his family. The whole family had been living in the house his father built many years ago, and had never had an electricity. This seemingly small feat meant so much to Don Israel and his wife, who served a delicious lunch for the volunteers and thanked them profusely. As the group was leaving, his wife walked up to Dave and wrapped her arms around him, crying with such gratitude and appreciation for what they had done for her family today.
And then our nighttime entertainment!! First was a dance group called Juventud de Romero, youth of Romero, which consisted of 12 dancers, 6 male and 6 female, ranging in age from 14-30, who performed a number of dances for us in a folklorico style. When they were finished, we had another performance by a band called Sierra Madre. The highlight for me was when one of the guitarists
played and sang John Lennon's Imagine, which he had never performed before. I think we all had the chills... the concert ended with our whole group up and dancing, which was a blast. Especially seeing Sister Joy rocking out and Michael shaking his groove thing in the center of our circle.
I can't believe we only have one more day here. And we are planning to finally do our Field Day at Las Delicias!!! I know that will be a lot of fun for the kids, as well as all of the volunteers.
There are more photos below