Last week we found out that we were getting a surprise visit from Spencer Milian, Official for Security and Justice, who works in the British Embassy. All of us were so excited at the news, especially at the thought of the impact this visit might have for the community. This will be the first visit during the seven months Progressio has worked in San Benito! 

Preparations got under way immediately. We split into teams with some volunteers continuing the scheduled work and the rest of the volunteers on preparation duty. Preparing the school included garden maintenance, litter picking (some of our volunteers’ favourite job) and tidying up some of the school features with a new lick of paint. 

Part of our scheduled work was giving the exterior walls a coat of white varnish. The volunteers were in a race against time to make sure the whole wall was completed for the visit. Whilst preparing for the visit, we also had to prepare the Glee and Discovery Clubs for their first public exhibition prior to their competitions in Tegucigalpa next week.

Preparations continued to the minute before our special guest arrived. Whist he was coming in through the front entrance, we were loading the last of the branches from our pruning into a pickup truck at the back and explaining to Hector that our visitor wasn’t the President of the UK. Mr Milian arrived to the Honduran and British flags flying in solidarity together, balloons and bunting adorning the pillars and the warm welcome of the children and the community. 

Firstly, he was introduced to the British and national volunteers, the staff of the school, the parent’s association of the community and members of the church. We then retired to a classroom for a presentation narrated by our Team Leaders, Gagan and Vilma, illustrating the past and future impact of Progressio ICS in San Benito. 

The presentation seamlessly led into a display from the Discovery Club, who went for the classic exploding volcano (baking soda, soap and vinegar). The gasps of the children not involved showed how well it went. 

Next up was the debut performance from our Glee Club who had been practicing non-stop for the past week. A seven-minute show stopper, which went smoothly, with help from Gagan passionately performing the last minute of choreography from the back. 

Spencer was then shown around the school grounds by our Team Leaders with a running commentary of the future plans and our vision for the school. Returning to the rest of the volunteers for the end of the visit, Mr Milian expressed his happiness and gratitude of all the hard work everyone was doing. He asked when the UK volunteers were leaving as there is potential of a ministerial visit from the British Ambassador for Honduras in December. 

The impact of this visit could be significant for San Benito. This could answer a very important unanswered question for us British volunteers, ‘what will happen when we leave?’. The British Embassy has grants and means to further help and support the community. Whilst we will continue to strive to make a sustainable impact, with help from the national volunteers of all cycles, we hope that the visit highlights the work that previous cycles have done and the importance of supporting these children in the future. 

ICS is funded by the Department for International Development, whose money goes to supporting international development, and by this visit, as volunteers, it is good to know that our work is being recognised internationally. We have become a part of the community, and we hope for the residents of San Benito, that their future will be full of happiness and prospects.

Written by ICS volunteers Harry Tomkins and Charlotte Patterson