Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Mexico: Tres

El Trabajo (The Work)

(I've been postponing this post while I wait for more pictures of some of our work projects. The pictures still aren't here but I'm going to go ahead and post it anyway. I'll let you know when I have some new visuals to add to this entry in the Mexico series.)

The 12 of us actually travelled to Ninos to be a work group. We had specific projects that we were supposed to help them complete before school started. We arrived on a Sat. night and after a day of church and siteseeing on Sunday, we were finally able to start our work projects on Monday morning. We were all chomping at the bit.

I was personally assigned to workbook duty. The school operates on a system of workbooks, or paces, that the students complete at their own pace. We transported several new workbooks down with us in our luggage and the groups that had come earlier in the summer had done the same. Those workbooks needed to be filed in their proper location and ALL the workbooks in the place had to be inventoried.

So Deb and Vicki and I sorted and counted and filed and inventoried for several hours....and all without suffering so much as a paper cut. (Unfortunately I don't have any pictures of this to show you.) The workbooks are kept in the school superintendants office. So he was in there making phone calls and having meetings while we were spreading hundreds of workbooks all over his floor. He just smiled and stepped over the piles.

After that was completed Deb and I tackeled the English library, or as it can be more acurately described...the storage closet. Anything that they didn't have a place for or know what to do with they were stashing in the library. There was stuff piled everywhere, making nearly impossible to enjoy the books housed inside. The library was somehow also used as a classroom, even in its current condition, so we really needed to get it cleaned out and organized. This is what it looked like when we began.

We spent two days cleaning, sorting and organizing. We gave the walls some new colorful paint and dressed up the windows. We took all of the books off of the shelves and washed them, then reorganized the books as we put them back. We put all of the teaching materials in one section, all of the videos in a section, all of the preschool books in a section...you get the picture. It wasn't hard, it was just time consuming. When we were finally finished this is what it looked like.
In the meantime Anne, Julie, Maureen and Bunny were painting the MASSIVE living area in Esperanza house. This huge living/dining room was quite the undertaking, especially since the house parents didn't want their hand painted stencil painted over. Yep, they had to trim around the stencil that went all the way around the room. It took them two days just to get that room painted.

Bonnie and Arlene were busy organizing the clothing closet. Churches from all over the US and Canada donate clothing for the kids at Ninos. All of it is stored in a rather small room on the campus at Genesis. Bonnie and Arlene sorted and labeled it according to gender and size. They've made it much easier for everyone to locate the clothing that they need.

The guys in the group, Jim, Donnie and Rick were busy working on the porch roof at Genesis house. In Mexico everything is made of concrete...even the roofs. The previous summer groups had formed up the new porch roof and installed the rebar, but it wasn't quite ready for the concrete yet. There was a lot of "hurry up and wait" associated with the roof project. The guys were able to enjoy some time playing basketball with the boys and get some other smaller projects done while they waited for materials to arrive for the roof job. Actually, even though they worked on it all week they still didn't get to see the concrete go in. I guess the next group took care of that.

Once the painting was done at Esperanza and the English library was ship shape, we took on some new projects. Anne, Julie, Maureen and Bunny tackled the teeny tiny preschool room. They repainted it and sorted and washed all of the toys. They purchased new storage containers for the classroom and reorganzied everything. They found 40+ puzzles that were all mixed together in a giant bag. We spent our afternoon and evening trying to put them together. I think there might have been 15 that actually had all of the pieces. They threw away a lot of junk and replaced it with some new, nice toys and educational materials. Julie even bought some sheets and made them some curtains and a toy hammock for the room.

Deb, Vicki and I sorted the toiletries that had been donated. Each house has it's own 50 gallon drum at the main complex. When donations come in (like the 50 tubes of toothpaste and 30 sticks of deoderant that we brought...thanks to CVSing) they have to be sorted into these drums. Because they were going to be transitioning into different living arrangements (more details on this later) in just a few days the items in the tubs were no longer divided correctly. For example, there were exfoliating lotions and nail polishes and hair accesories in the barrell for Bethel house but all of the girls were moving in to Genesis house. So we had to dump everything out and start again, adding the items we had brought too.

The most exciting work I did while I was there was translating. Vicki was interviewing all of the staff at Ninos in order to study their educational system and provide them with feedback on how to improve it. Many of the staff did not speak English, so I had to tag along in order to translate for Vicki. It was so much fun to get to talk to, and learn from, the people working at Ninos. It was great practice for me and it was comforting to discover that I haven't forgotten everything I learned. I enjoyed speaking Spanish so much. One day I translated for 3 hours straight. It was great!

In the end I felt like we had accomplished a lot for the mission...even if we never got that roof done. Their facilities are certainly cleaner and more organized than they were before. Hopefully they could appreciate the improvements that we made to their buildings while they were on summer vacation.

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