Week 5 found me moving about an hour to the Northern part of Quito. I had become so accustomed to my old family, work, and area, but now it was time to meet some more people and learn something new. My new family consists of Marta (mom), Marco (dad), Vivi (older sister), Nicole (younger sister) and Julia, another volunteer who is from Seattle. Julia is the first person I have met from the west coast here and I have to say it is kinda refreshing to have an area of origin similar to someone else. All the other volunteers were from the east coast or Midwest. This family is really nice, active and loves to watch movies and just talk in general. I think this will be a good fit. I couldn’t start my new job until I had orientation which was on Wednesday, therefore I had Monday and Tuesday to get some laundry washed (needed to happen badly) and get a haircut. The Northern part of Quito where I am living is definitely different with regards to sense of security. There aren’t as many muggings as there are in the South and here I can walk around with a back pack and no one takes notice. Still I always know my surroundings and am aware of whats going on but it has been pretty nice to go work out in the park around dark and not have people telling me I should go inside and what not.
My 23rd birthday rolled around on Tuesday and my family threw me a sort of surprise party! It was pretty sweet of them after only knowing me two days but I feel pretty comfortable around them and they likewise as Nicole shoved my face in the cake when I blew out the candle. I did however get to return the favor the very next night as it was her 17th birthday and the honor was granted to me as a sort of revenge. I also found they love the tradition of belt whips for the age a person is turning. I received a mix of soft, medium, and pretty tough whips (mainly from Nicole and her bf Alvaro, who by the way loves Blink 182 which was a nice surprise).
Wednesday I went to my orientation at Para Sus Ninos (For his children), a Christian based home for kids that really impressed me. The facilities were spotless, maintained and there are about 4-5 children per “tia” (auntie) who take care of the kids which is great. Homes I have seen in the past had almost 15-20 children per tia. On average children stay 21 months before they are either reunited with their original family or adopted by a new one if there is no way to reunite them. It has been running for about 20 plus years now and has been a great place for children who were either abandoned or mistreated. I got to work with the kids the second part of the day and what an experience. I started with the baby house (0-2 year olds) and was placed in a room with some very little ones, the youngest being two months. There were multiple times where I found myself almost starting to tear up a little because they were just so sweet and helpless and its hard to imagine the situation where someone had to give them up or treated them poorly. Yet for whatever reason these situations happened and they are here now. Coming down to Ecuador, I wanted to experience just these types of situations and work on accepting some of these tough truths in life. In the past when a moment touches me or I am bothered by something, I tend to really think on it until it consumes me to the point where I will walk around for 3 days thinking on this problem all the time. This is something I would like to work through and being here with the kids, you cant let yourself be off in thought and consumed; you need to be present with them. Did pretty well for getting back on track my first day but am excited about improving over the next month. As I left the baby house I met two little boys, Carlitos and Emilo, who were getting ready to eat. We played a classic game of peek a boo and they loved it. To my joy when I saw them the next morning, the first thing they did was cover their eyes then try and surprise me, amazing how quickly they can remember a new face.