Volunteer Testimonies

Sonoma Valley High School, Day 1 (March 20, 2016)

Wow! This heat is CRAZY! This morning we got to meet the families of Papayal, the community in which we will be working. There are about 150 people in the community and they have been using a metal storage container for the students in 3-5 grade and we are going to help build a real classroom that will not be a hotbox and will help decrease the lead poisoning in the community.

We had a welcome gathering, singing of both national anthems, a dance show and we sang “un millon de amigos” to the community. We heard they might be shy and reserved, but they fell in love with the Sonoma youth just as quickly as Dora-Aldina and I did. It will be interesting to see how much we can work in this heat as I overheard several different comments such as, “We are exhausted and we haven’t done any work yet!” However the youth spent a lot of time walking hand in hand with kids, carrying kids, playing soccer and just hanging out with the children in the communities.

In the afternoon we visited a community called El Triumfo (the Triumph) where a group of nine women lead the community. They have different project to help the people, most recently they built a park and learning center in the area for the children to gather and learn together. The greeted us with two piñatas, music and lots of smiles. They sent us home with mangos, jojocotes, limones, and tamarindo grown on the property of Profesora Erica (the leader of the leaders).

In our reflection tonight, the kids spoke about the things that stood out for them today. Here are some of their observations… How the entire community supports one another, one boy (8ish) noticed that a two year old was upset not getting a candy, dropped his only candy and pointed for the two year old to find it, the power of women leading the communities, one little boy with a bike way too big kept falling, trying and trying….ask your kids to tell you about Javier! Our kids were just amazed by the overall joy and happiness, the openness and warmth with which they greeted us.

Dora-Aldina and also I shared how deeply impressed we were by the group for several reasons!! First, they are fearless and connect with kids, youth and adults right away! Second, they see what needs to be done and just start doing it (like picking up all the piñata garbage)! Third, they seem to just ooze joy as they play with the kids! They simply glow with happiness. Fourth, they include everyone in the group. They are all about “NO CLIQUES” and are like one big family! Fifth, their energy NEVER ENDS! What a joy! Sixth, they are so insightful, such deep thinkers, observant, empathetic and loving! We are so blessed to be here with these young people! Thank you for sending them with us!

-Krista McAtee, Work Group leader

At the El Papayal community

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