We have moved into our new house which has gone pretty smoothly. The house is pretty basic, but has a nice feel. We have room for a study and a spare room. We also have room when the boys from the project drop in. It is a bit like setting up your campsite for an extended camp. Pretty basic but adequate. I know not all of you have Facebook, but I have some photos up there to see.
Work is really busy. We are at the project four days a week and spend two days a week in preparation. We try to have Saturday off, but you never quite know what each day will bring. My work looks like it will take a number of forms. I start me art classes with the boys on Monday and I feel like a first year out teacher. I am very nervous. The boys are great when we are all having a good time, but we will se what happens when they need to sit and listen and follow some instructions in my bad Spanish!!!. I have discovered google translate and that has been a life saver. I will also be working with the team of workers both here on Ometepe and in Managua. This will involve running workshops every 6 weeks and also providing suggestions of alternative methods they could consider employing with the boys. Both these tasks take a lot of careful thinking, consideration and preparation. The workshops will be looking at issues such as the impact of early trauma on later developmental and behavioural outcome, the role of relationships in developing self awareness and empathy and resilience. (just to name a few).
I have spent this first 6 weeks observing and getting to know the staff, kids, and the processes of Si A La Vida. One thing I have noticed is that there is a lot of emphasis on what the boys are doing wrong. One of my challenges is to understand the role that this plays for the staff and boys, and also to open up an awareness that acknowledging the positive is also needed. In all of this I am loving the challenge and the director is encouraging me in this work.
I am also a 'mum' for the kids. The other day the boys all dropped in to our place and one of them asked me if I liked all the people in the house. I said I loved it, as my kids were a long way away. He said- "Well now you have another big family here!"
Mart's work is far more difficult and frustrating. The project has survived and thrived for 21 years, but is now in financial crisis as I mentioned in the last post. He is working through the various possibilities for further funding, as well as working with the staff and Board of Directors as they think about the priorities, and the reality of the situation. It is tricky work as this project is intimately intwined in the lives of 20 boys and a committed staff. The boys are always the centre of any decisions made, and the manner in which the project responds to the reality of dwindling funds will have a profound effect on their lives. The staff are very invested and have dedicated themselves to this project for years with very very low wages, even by Nicaraguan standards. It will be a slow and considered way forward to balance all the needs with the reality of the situation.
To finish, a little story about my interaction with one of the boys. Juan is 14 years old and in high school (no mean feat here). Like many teenagers he is full of energy and is great to be around when things are going his way. Last Sunday we were with the kids at church, followed by a birthday celebration and then we took the kids to a beautiful water hole for a swim. All day Juan was the last to leave the church as he was talking to his girlfriend, last to get out of the water as he was having one last swim and then when we drove the boys home to the project, Juan decided he would stay in the back of the ute and have a little bit extra of a ride. I said to him- "You are always pushing to get that little bit extra". He quickly replied "That's how I get the most out of life" Si A La Vida- YES to life.
Keep in touch (firstname.lastname@example.org) and keep pushing to get that little bit extra out of life.
PS The rain arrived last night and the roof leaked over our bed!! We have now rearranged to house to miss the inundation of rain.