Volunteer Mayhem

March 29, 2019

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What happens when you get a whole bunch of volunteers together for a week from across the U.S. who have never met before?  You make a great library!
 
From March 10 -17, 13 U.S. volunteers worked shoulder to shoulder with the Chispa Project team in Honduras to inaugurate a new library in Dr. Jorge Roberto Maradiaga School in the Villanueva neighborhood of Tegucigalpa.  By the end of the week, they had created classroom libraries for 610 students and their 18 teachers, with 990 different books!
 
The first days of the volunteers’ stay in Honduras were full of odd jobs, and not a minute to lose before the inauguration at the end of the week.  They started by making an inventory and labeling all 990 books, and then spend two full days at the school painting decorations and creating reading corners in every classroom. They then painted and assembled bookshelves, and set up the corners with mats and posters to accompany the colorful bookshelves.

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Finally, they prepared for the library inauguration, which is a full day of activities where the students rotate through stations learning a new book and craft in each station.  The committed volunteers worked in everything from cutting paper crafts for the students, and folding the passports that are given to each student for the “trip” that they make during the inauguration into the world of reading.
 
Right in the middle of their trip, on Wednesday, the group of volunteers paused in the preparations for the big day and took advantage to visit the Chispa Project office and listen to a small, but deep talk about Honduras and its challenges as a country. The issue of migration was addressed, and it was led by two Hondurans who have embarked on the trip to cross the US border in an “illegal” manner and who were deported. They talked about their reasons for taking this difficult decision and Even the reasons that make them reconsider the option of possibly taking this risk again.  It was incredibly eye opening, and helped us all consider the complexities of immigration and the difficult life for many in Honduras.

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Thursday and Friday were the days selected for the inauguration of the library, an event that takes place with the “Festival of Books.” Students rotated through 7 different activity stations in which they read a book together then did an activity or craft. This event began with a cultural presentation by the students to the volunteers and then gave way to the fair. Both students and volunteers broke the language barrier and loved working together to see the delight on the children’s faces.

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Finally, on Friday and Saturday, the volunteers had the opportunity to break with the routine and learn about other aspects of Honduran culture. They first visited the United Nations Park, which is located on the El Picacho hill and offers a spectacular panoramic view of Tegucigalpa and Comayagüela, the cities that make up the Honduran capital.
 
On Saturday, 16th, the last day in Honduras, the volunteers took advantage of the opportunity to get to know two very traditional Honduran towns with colonial architecture and very close to the city: Santa Lucía, where they tasted some tasty teas and desserts, and Valle de Ángeles, where they could walk the stone colonial streets and buy souvenirs made by local artisans.
 
Chispa Project and the Maradiaga School could not be more pleased with the fun we had working together with this dynamic group of volunteers.  We’re grateful always to be able to share the beauty of Honduras and its people with new friends, and look forward to their return.  (Read more and see a video of their trip here, if you’re interested in joining 2020’s adventure!) ​​