Host families - A home away from home

While moving halfway across the world is quite a daunting prospect, through living with my host family, La Esperanza has become a home away from home. There is something really special about being welcomed into a family and instantly being made to feel like you are part of it. It has been a huge comfort to have had the support and care of my host family, who never fail to make me smile after a long day at work. I have loved becoming part of a wider family with nephews, sisters, brothers, uncles and aunts who are always keen to chat and share stories with me - of course over copious amounts of coffee and tortillas. Moreover, living with a family means that you become fully immersed into the community, and whether its saying ‘buenas dias’ every morning to our host brother on our daily walk to the bus, or bumping into a family friend at a café, it makes our work in the community even more rewarding as we come to know the people it will hopefully benefit.

Personal development

Personal development is a really significant part of any ICS programme and to become an active, global citizen it is important to work on our own skills and abilities, in order to help those less fortunate than ourselves. One of my main aims for ICS was to become more confident, improving my public speaking and leadership skills. While only halfway through my placement I am genuinely surprised at how my confidence has increased and I find myself in situations (such as delivering a workshop to 58 girls in a language I couldn’t speak a month ago) that I would never even imagine I could do before I came here. Furthermore, working day in day out with a team of passionate volunteers is an amazing experience as everyone supports each other and wants one another to succeed.

It’s all about the process

As volunteers working on a development project, naturally we face challenges in our work. Jobs can take longer than expected, external factors such as the weather can prevent progress, or simply, language barriers can slow work down and test patience levels. However, one thing I’ve learnt is that the process of something can be just as important as the final result. Currently we are working with a group of women from the local community, encouraging them to make handicrafts out of recycled materials in order to sell at a fair we plan to hold at the end of this month. Finding resources, successful products and encouraging confidence in the women can be challenging at times, however, just creating a space for the women to share ideas, learn new skills and take a break from their day to do something different has proved rewarding for both them and us.

The world can be big…

Living in a developing country has made me question things I normally take for granted on a daily basis. Being here reminds me of how lucky I have been to have had so many opportunities in life, such as going to university, travelling the world and even learning to drive. As a woman, I feel especially lucky to have had a secure education and be able to feel free to pursue whatever career I choose. In Honduras this is not the case and public spaces are still overwhelmingly dominated by men, meaning life for most women and girls is defined by their prescribed roles of mothers and housewives. Therefore, working in a society in which life is visibly harder, opportunities limited, and resources greatly lacking, one values every positive moment and becomes attuned to notice them, however small, as often as possible. This has changed my outlook on life, focusing on the positives of the day and worrying less about the challenges of tomorrow.

…and small

Another significant part of the ICS programme is to share and exchange culture with our national volunteers and vice versa. And while my time in Honduras has shown me how different lives can be all over the world, it has been great to get to know what it’s really like to live in La Esperanza and we have all learned a lot from each other. Each week our group holds a workshop focused on exchanging a certain aspect of each other’s culture and previous topics have included learning how to make quesadilla cake (a delicious cinnamon-y experience - think Christmas in a cake), drinking British tea, and Yoga. These workshops have proved hugely enjoyable and interesting for all involved… though I must admit the Hondurans didn’t enjoy the experience of drinking tea without the compulsory Honduran sugar rush! 

Here’s to five more weeks!

Written by ICS volunteer Rose Geldart