Volunteer Experience — “In Which I Am Proud of My Kid”
Jennifer Miller, who has been traveling the world with 2008 with her 4 children in tow, wrote a beautiful article about the experience her son, Elisha, had while volunteering at Konojel for 6 months.
“The Konojel building looks a lot better, Mom. The work days last week made a big difference. It just feels tidier. The ladies will unlock the kitchen soon and start cooking, they begin early. We feed the kids outside on the patio with long tables and benches. That’s where we do our activities, outside too. From the kitchen out back you can look up at Imelda’s house. I wave at her sometimes. Some of these kids this is their only good meal. Most of them don’t grow well because their nutrition is so bad. They think I’m a giant. That’s the house where the kid who tries to beat me up lives.” He offers that last part as an aside and I interrupt:
“Wait, there’s a kid that tries to beat you up every day??”
He laughs, “Yeah, but he’s, like, this tall,” holding one hand by his waist, “And he’s only teasing, he’s just a little scrapper and he likes to have a try because I’m so big. We laugh every day.”
“Oh, okay. Just checking.” He chuckles and gives me his give-me-a-break-mom eye roll.
A mayan woman wanders past us, rolling her waist long black hair into a bun and smiles, “Hola Elias!”
My boy waves back, “That’s Maria. She’s kind of the boss lady of the locals.”
We pass Konojel and keep hiking uphill to the pristine white health center, which is largely empty. One woman, waiting in the entrance asks me if I’m one of the doctors. “No, solo la madre de el,” I reply. She smiles and gives me a big hug. She knows Elisha.
He waltzes, like he owns the place, into the center of the building, chooses a door and knocks. The smiling face of an American doctor peeks through the crack and my kid disappears inside. He joins another doctor, Daisy, a Konojel worker who is apparently there as a liason, and a woman who is laying on the table being examined. I wait outside.
Daisy emerges to tell me how fantastic Elisha was yesterday and how much help he is with the kids, and how he, indeed, was the pharmacist assistant to the American doctors.