They posted this sign for me.
"Kate Return Soon. We love you very much."
And so my time at Manos Amigas/Lets Go Volunteer has come to an end. I’m so blessed to have met each and every single child; each one has touched my heart. They’re incredible groups of children, all so strong and so positive in the least desirable of conditions. They’ve confirmed my belief that you don’t need things to be happy. It’s just those around you and the experiences you create that make life whole.
I thought it would be extremely difficult to leave these children, but I think it helped that I had to leave for my new job in Cartagena, almost as soon as I got back from my 2.5 week danger vacation. During that time, I was able to gain distance that has made it a bit easier to say good-bye. I’d like to say I support this organization and would love to send others there, but I can’t say I can. The organization is corrupt and takes advantage of every single volunteer, especially long-term volunteers. I’ve actually come to find out that they have a track record for treating these types of volunteers badly. It was for them alone I needed to get away so badly, these
five months have grown to be quite difficult for me. Luckily, the kids have made every single day spent there worth it. For them alone, I would be able to recommend the organization. At least I can say that the money that’s donated, is put towards the kids. How much of it is put towards them? I’m not sure, as with any organization. Though you do see them hurting when no volunteer is there to support them, which must mean something. Then there’s the orchid farm, that’s just a gold mine of fun and love. The people there are a breath of fresh air, and the work is filled with machetes –what more could you ask for?!
So I’ve left Ibague. I’m a little bit stronger, a little bit wiser, and have more love and appreciation in my heart for the world around me. I’m constantly reminded of the fact of how us fortunate people take almost everything we have for granted more often than not. What’s so amazing to me, is that I think because these kids know what it’s like to have nothing, they share everything they possibly can. Our society is very self-centered and un-sharing. They
would literally give you their shirt off their back if you needed one, or would offer you their plate of food even if it meant they had to starve. They don’t do it because someone made them, they do it without even thinking. They seem extremely happy to be able to give something to somebody. To witness the love they have for each other is incredibly beautiful. These kids treat everyone like family. The older kids immediately watch out for the younger ones. The girls act like mothers, hugging and kissing the younger ones and helping them up the jungle gym or holding their hand. The boys make sure the younger ones aren’t being bullied too much and keep their eye out for the little girls as well. It’s really strange to see this sort of love and behavior, especially since they're not related to each other -one of the most magical things I’ve witnessed yet. If only we all could show such unreserved love to those around us.
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