Tag Archives: Trainee

Responsibility and initiative

My name is Anna, I am a volunteer in the Paraíso de Infancia Los GUSANITOS in Granada. First of all, I would like to say that every volunteering experience may be different depending on your own initiatives and likes. However, there is always a need for extra hands with the youngest children, so I spend a lot of time with them. Currently the youngest child is just 9 months old. It has been great to see him develop from wanting to be carried around all the time (and crying when this did not happen) to preferring playing with the other children (and now barely ever cries). This young group plays a lot, and when they don’t, they either sleep or eat! After we all have lunch together, I help with brushing their teeth and getting them ready for nap time.
Three times a week I teach English to three groups of children. One group is very young with children of just 2-3 years, and to be honest, it is a challenge to play with them in English. It is easier with the older groups of children who are around 5 – and many of these children really want to learn English. We have done a lot of drawing, singing, and games to learn some vocabulary. In the afternoons I also help the children with their homework. Many are learning how to write the letters and numbers – which can be very difficult for some children. In fact, this is one of the reasons Los GUSANITOS is such an important project for the children. I was quite shocked to see that some children up to the age of 10 did not know the letters – let alone how to read. Given the low standard of education in some of the schools, it is good that the children can receive some extra classes here.
A second reason why Los GUSANITOS is important is its function as a safe place to spend the day. There is food, responsible adults, and friends. There are fun activities and useful social and educational lessons. Sadly, the alternative for many children would be very different to this. My first impression of Granada was actually that the poverty did not seem as extreme as I had imagined. However, I now know more about what kinds of problems there are. I know that some parents do not care to send their children to school and some do not (or cannot) feed their children. The children need day care centres like these to learn new values and to improve their chances for a better future.
(Anna Buus Kristensen, Denmark)


Country of divided souls, I will miss you.
The melancholy in your eyes, while your lips are smiling.
Loud laughter and quiet whispering, raddled shoes and combed hair.
Scarred skin as a sign of your past.
Sunburned, yellow ground, distinguished with blooming trees.
Pale blue sky, lushly blue sky.
Shades of red, brown and green all over again.
You reveal the value of live to me.
Delivery and death, beginning and end, and the most important in between.
Desiring for freshness and clamping on the ancient.
Progress and stagnation, lots of stagnation.
Waiting…more waiting.
Time for observation, time for the people.
Small Bandidos on the streets, Flip-flops, clopping and hooting cars.
Yelling comes out of a house, an old woman sitting in her rocking chair.
All contrasts unified, and still dissected.
Sizzling fire and food smell and children’s eyes with dark shadows underneath.
Catching a glimpse of foreign lives, only for a brief moment between door and window.
On everything colourful plasticbags, slowly swaying in the shimmery sun.
With dust in the eyes, a final fuzzy sunset.
(Carla Westenberger)

Carla did her internship at our place 2 years ago. She is the artist, who beautifully painted our walls with the children and with that not only left a deep trace of love in our garden. In company of her mother Barbara, she came back to the roots of the place which represents a defining period in her live. We were happy to spend a wonderful month with the two of them and we are hoping to do it again in another 2 years, ;-).



…for everything you’ve done for us

Who hears butterflies laugh

„What’s your name? Where do you live? How old are you? Where do you come from?
Want to play with me? Is there snow where you live?…“
Those are only of few of the many questions friendly faces welcome me with at the GUSANITOS. Today is my first day. A lot of big, dark brown eyes, beaming with joy, are watching me. Some small hands are pointing around me, eager to show me everything. People are introduced to me, names are mentioned. After a few hours, I already feel like a part of the GUSANITOS family. However, I still have difficulties with matching names and faces. This is why I decide to start writing a list, in order to get a general idea about everybody. Some children are really excited about this idea and start to gather information about one another.
It’s two pm. It’s time for English class. I am kind of nervous. I don’t know if the kids will like my ideas. I’d like to repeat the numbers with them and play Bingo. In addition, my Spanish is not fluent yet. It’s only my second week. While the children are filling in their numbers in the Bingo-scheme, I can’t help but smile when I think of our way of communication. I’m trying to speak in English with them during the class and a lot of times, all I see is confusion in their faces. They are responding to me in Spanish and my face is certainly showing the same kind of confusion. However, we can understand each other just as we would speak the same language.
Even though I’m trying to speak the same language as the “madrinas”, we are sometimes talking about different things. The cook Mama Fran for example thought at first I was a vegetarian because I had told her that by mistake. With a lot of love and care she took away every little piece of meat on my plate and I was always wondering why I was the only one who didn’t have meat on their dish, :-).
My responsibilities at the GUSANITOS are exactly as diverse as living with them. Besides expanding my language skills, I also discover and develop a lot of other skills like:
Assisting in making costumes,
Playing baseball,
Playing UNO in the speed of light,
Doing mental arithmetic,
(Leading) group activities including 30 kids,
Teaching how to read,
Hand washing my laundry,
Dancing (thanks to the bigger ones of the GUSANITOS),
Learning to be spontaneous,
…and a lot more, :-).
It’s late afternoon. The big trees in the patio (=yard) provide shelter from the strong sun and paint the whole garden in golden light. The classes in the “comedor“ will end soon and the little ones are already playing in the garden. I am sitting at one of the tables and little Laurita comes running to me excitedly. I already know what she wants. We have this kind of ritual. She is all smiles and says: “Let’s sing! Let’s sing together!“ I ask her what she would like to sing and she gives me a number of the songs we sing and dance every morning. She decides on “five little ducks“ and we start: “one, two, three, four, five little ducks went swimming one day…“ Suddenly Chery, Estefania and Grey come running, sit down and join our singing. Their favorite moment of the song comes at the end: After the swimming, all five little ducks return to their mum and therefore we hug each other and laugh. To me, that’s my favorite moment of the entire day.
With each day I spend with the children, the names on my list become more alive and the faces get more familiar. I hear them laugh and I hear them cry. I share special memories about moments or stories with each child. Every day, I love them more and more. I learn to understand their gestures and their facial expressions. I learn what they like and what makes them happy. And I also learn which difficulties and challenges they have to manage every day and I admire them for their strength, their courage and their ability to love. During these months, I was able to experience what it means to hear butterflies laugh. It is a laugh that gives hope. It is a laugh that reassures. It is a laugh that I will never forget and for this experience I am deeply grateful. I want to thank especially the “madrinas“ for their cordiality, Mama Fran for her great cooking and the cooking advices and last but not least Priska for her hospitality, care and the experiences she shared with me. Thanks to the GUSANITOS I went back home with a lot of butterflies in my stomach and memories about my time with them, which makes me smile every time I think about them.
(Julia Hofer)

Finally my beloved sister Anita…

…arrived well and with her, a suitcase full of delicious things, medicines and lots of gifts for my madrinas and my GUSANITOS. A huge THANK YOOOUUUU to all of you who helped to prepare this great surprise!, :-))

Today I’m happy, happy…

…so haaaaaaaaaaaaaaappy!
After months of “I don’t want”, “I can’t”, tears of desperation and of anger, also crying out of frustration and even blind with rage and a lot, really a lot, lot of patience, empathy and logopaedic training of our madrina Julia you made it! You read the first words out of the book Pinocchio! 🙂

This priceless gift touches me in my deepest soul so that I could cry out of joy because I know now you started to pave your way so that your wounds can be healed little by little.