Sunday, November 6, 2011

That little black horse and thoughts for today

Originally posted here:

So Meagan mentioned in the "Who we are" that I kind of like horses. So even though we are in Honduras, and this is a blog about photography, I wanted to share a little personal story.

The Dutch girl we're living with, Manon, and I went out for a bit last night and ended up talking for a few hours. By the time we drove home it was around midnight. I had told her briefly earlier about being a horse person, but I find that is a difficult concept to express. On the drive home there was a decrepit black gelding, with no halter or rope of any kind, walking down the sidewalk dead lame and my heart just about broke into two. I couldn't help myself, and without really asking Manon I pulled over, got out of the car, put my hazards on a began to try and connect with the horse.

After a few minutes, and after moving the car forward twice, I was about ten yards away from this gelding when a motorcycle flew by scaring him to trot on three legs to the other side of the street and start moving down a side road. Luckily this ended up being just what I needed. I asked Manon if she minded if we pull down that street, which happens to be in a better neighborhood and was totally empty. I don't know what it was I was hoping to achieve, but something in me needed to spend a little time with this horse. I pulled the car over, gave her instructions on how to drive the car, and I set off to connect with this lovely black gelding.

I used the skills I have learned over the years that help "round pen" a horse, except that I was in a sort-of-sketchy Honduran neighborhood at midnight, and I had already been chasing the gelding (sort of, in a car) for about half a mile. At that moment I would have LOVED to have the luxury of a roundpen to work with. Instead, I had to simply read his body language and act accordingly hoping that I could convince him that I wouldn't pose a threat. Since he could get away from me in whatever manner he wanted, and at whatever speed, I moved slowly and deliberately. Within 3-4 minutes though, the gelding stopped and began considering the question I was asking. He began to shift his weight, but stand still, and flick his ears back at me. Finally convinced I wasn't looking to hurt him, he took a deep breath and let me make contact.

The process of gaining this horse's trust was different than any other horse I have ever worked with in that I had nothing to rely on other than body language. No physical barriers to help me out, no knowledge of the horse or his personality, and likely not much foundation of trust of people. I realize that the horse has likely had plenty of experience with people, but a wild guess tells me that wasn't something that would work in my favor. 

I stood by his shoulder and neck for a few minutes and breathed in the scent of horses that I have missed so much. His shaggy mane hung all the way down his thin neck, but by then it was his eye that I had focused on. There is an old saying that talks about the eye being the window to the soul, but even beyond that it can tell a story without needing words. He had major scarring across his nose and a weathered yet wary look in his eye. Looking at his teeth I'd guess he was somewhere in the late teens, and his body told a similar story. His spine protruded about 2 inches out of his hindquarters and over his back, and he didn't look like he had any weigh to lose. As I ran my hands over him it didn't take long to figure out why he was dead lame in that back left. The structural deformities were magnified in his petite 14.1h frame, and he was severely bow legged, but only in his back left. He has likely worked hard his whole life, yet he doesn't have the conformation to stay sound. His feet likely haven't been done in months, if ever, and it was fascinating to see the difference in the wear and tear on the feet of the three semi-normal limbs versus that back left.

By the end of my short time with him, as I gave him a few more scratchies and just a little more love, he started to lick his lips and chew. Now, I have always found that to be rewarding, in that its an indication of the connection being forged, but this time it felt different. It felt like these few minutes were the one small favor I could do for a horse who had worked hard for all his years and hadn't been given much of anything in return.

Now I know that there is really nothing I can do for this horse, and although he had no rope on him, he may very well be someone's livelihood. I can't put him in our backyard and let him live there indefinitely and don't have the resources to retire a horse in Honduras. I feel bad because I think by showing this horse kindness, he may trust easier next time and be betrayed. By reading this little gelding's body; from the scarring and white hairs grown in on his face and withers, to his long back left toe, high heels and protruding spine, life hasn't been kind to him and his humans likely haven't been kind either. The 10 minutes I was able to share with him, of loving rubs and nose kisses, may be the only he experiences in his sad life.

As I walked away, he turned, pricked his ears and looked on with interest, a complete turn around from our first encounter. Walking away was just as painful as I knew it would be when I walked up, but I think thats part of who I am. I may be able to ignore the stray dogs and cats on the street (and I do love all animals), but somehow I think horses will always be different for me. In a country where the children are treated the same or worse as the stray animals, I think it's nearly impossible to try and open the heart to both the children and the animals, especially when it seems there is no light at the end of either tunnel.

At the end of it it was really cool to see Manon totally fascinated by my ability to not only get the horse to respond and connect, but to let me touch him all over and pick up his feet. I didn't think that part of it was such a big deal, but she was blown away. She also watched him hobble off nervously during my first few attempts on the busy road, and didn't think I'd eventually be able to walk up to him. Its fun to share the brilliance of the horse with those who have never experienced it. The language of these animals transcends country boundaries, language, and breed. Fundamentally speaking, a horse is a horse.

With everything that has been going on this week, I think that in that moment I needed that little black horse as much as he may have needed me. And if only for a few minutes, we at least were able to share in that.

Thought for the day:

"It's not the critic who counts, not the man who points out how the strong man stumbled, or when the doer of deeds could have done better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena; whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs and comes short again and again; who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotions and spends himself in a worth cause; who at the best, knows in the end the triumph of high achievement; and who at the worst if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who know neither victory or defeat."  Theodore Roosevelt

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Lenses are louder than words

Tomorrow at 3:30am Meagan and I will head off to Newark airport to catch our flights to Honduras.  I think this trip will be unique in that I am conducting my project with a partner who very much shares my vision for the project, and what will make it even more fun is that we each have a Flip video camera that we will use to document the experience.  Starting at 3:30am.  Can't wait!

Thursday, October 13, 2011

when in doubt always err on the side of compassion

6 days until honduras 

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

“Your time is limited, so don't waste it living someone else's life. Don't be trapped by dogma — which is living with the results of other people's thinking. Don't let the noise of others' opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.” -Steve Jobs

3'6" - the highest the mare has ever jumped

Thursday, September 29, 2011

The girls go horseshowing

Aston competing in the 2'6 and 2'6 jumpers on Saturday
Aston competing at Sedgefield in the 2'6 and 2'9 jumpers

The yellow pony in the 2' Special Hunters 

Yellow Pony -  2' Special Hunters

Monday, September 5, 2011


Sunday, September 4, 2011

this is what dreams are made of

Sunday, August 28, 2011

24 hours left of summer... Then what?

As summer draws to a close I find myself thinking about both the summer and my years at Elon.  With only one year left I'm soon going to be forced to think about what I want to do with my life.  How am I supposed to know what to do?  In terms of my horsey-life I know I may never have it as good as I do right now.  I have the best possible team of people around me - Grayson, Jim Bob, and Doc.  I have an amazing mare that I get to call my very own who has made me incredibly proud as she has matured into a wonderfully safe and sane partner, ready to tackle the world.  I took the pony I've had in training on and off for a year and a half to her first horse show where she got a ribbon in a big class and redefined what anyone thought was possible for her.  I received another gelding in on training to be a hunter prospect who is proving to be a sane, happy-go-lucky and willing partner despite the fact that he doesn't yet know anything.  I also get to move back to Honduras in October and teach photography with my close friend Meagan.

How could it improve?  Well, I'm not sure it could.  Despite the fact that I still work several jobs, am going to be riding 4 horses a day, and be a full time student, I'm happy.  I know I won't ever be able to live without horses in my life, and the more time I spend in North Carolina the more I know that this is where I want to be long term.  I know I may have to leave for a few years after I graduate, but NC is where I want to be.   The people are nicer, the weather is better (despite a hurricane and earthquake in the past week), and life is slower.  

If someone had told me 4 years ago that this is where I would be right now I would have laughed.  I feel incredibly lucky to have had the opportunities to meet the people I've met, prove myself to those around me, travel to some of the most incredible places in the world, and love every minute of it.

Here are some pictures of the newest addition, Grady.

All my children -

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Tuesday, August 23, 2011


via lovelyasadream

Sunday, August 21, 2011

The mares and professional photos


Saturday, August 20, 2011

Show mares

Friday, August 19, 2011

I know I know, its been forever since I've posted.  I have this habit of throwing myself completely into the moment, and lately that has meant 100% focus on the horses.  Both mares are for sale and they are both at their first horse show this weekend.  The yellow pony schooled this afternoon and will likely show tomorrow.  Aston flatted today and will school tomorrow, possibly showing on Sunday.  The main goal of the weekend is mileage.  Being at the show is a success in and of itself.  We have come a long way, and I'm so proud of what she has become.  I'm a happy girl.  

Remember when I first got the pony?
And then when I found out how talented she is?
And how calm, confident and wonderful she has become?
And here she is totally relaxed at the show this weekend.

I have learned so much from this little mare, and I really hope that she finds her very own kid.  She absolutely deserves it.  She's come so far!

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Using versus feeling

Adjusting back to life in the states is never easy no matter where you come from.  Coming from Honduras I find many of the conveniences of home unnecessary and frivolous.  I am glad to be home though, because it gives me an opportunity to sit down and focus on my next moves.

The other day out at the barn I was out at the barn hanging out with Grayson and Christine and we were talking about addiction and empathy.  Since my heart is still in Honduras, I often relate things that I think and talk about back to Honduras and the boys.  Christine made a very interesting point about what distinguishes an addict from another person, and it was that an addict is constantly reading people and using that information to manipulate a situation. Rather than reading and using a person, most other people can be in a moment with another person and feel with them.  I found that to be a very interesting and simply way of looking at behaviors, and it makes a lot of sense as I think about the boys because that is how they live and survive on the street.  Its only when they are in a place where they don't need to fight for their survival that they can learn to love and be loved. Safety and security changes the game for them.

I have finished putting together a ten minute informational video about ProNiño for anyone who hasn't already heard from me what its all about, and I've started planning other fundraising things that I will hopefully be able to work more on in the coming months.  

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Is it too soon to count the days til I go back?

Looking out of the plane window on the way as we started to leave San Pedro Sula I felt like I was leaving a part of my heart behind in the foundation. Its not a feeling I fully understand, because I know I will back soon, and because I know I will never truly say goodbye.

The weekend was our last so we made sure it was full of different events and as much time with the boys as possible.  On Saturday we went to the boy’s jewelry exhibition, and although there was a miscommunication with us about what time the event actually was we were still able to go hang out with the older boys that were there selling jewelry. 

That night we ended up going into San Pedro Sula to go out with a girl from Elon and her friends.  All the girls were stunning, and we felt extremely underdressed, but it was fun nonetheless.  Several of the girls live in San Pedro year round and so hopefully I will be able to get together with them again in the fall when I’m back for a few months. 

On Sunday we woke up very early (despite the late night on Saturday) got our coffee and got picked up to go to the boy’s soccer game.  We went back to the same field in Berlín and watched our boys own some locals in a 7-0 win.  Its so much fun to watch them have so much fun playing the sport they love.  Watching them play, and playing with them, reminds me of why I loved the game to begin with.  I’m so fortunate to have had the opportunities I have had to practice and play for so many years.  During the years that I was playing at the elite level I had the opportunity to learn and play with the best, choose from whichever pair of cleats best suited the ground that day, and buy new equipment whenever my old stuff wasn’t quite up to par.  These boys play in 100 degree heat in long sleeve jerseys and pull their cleats out of a grab back of old ripped up shoes, and you can see the pure joy they get from the game.  I hope that at some point I will be able to coordinate the donation of cleats and equipment so that each boy will at least have his own pair of shoes that fit.

After the game we went back to the foundation to just hang out with the boys.  We had planned a surprise for our Despedida (going away party) since we didn’t want to do a dance (which is the norm for most volunteers/groups).  We bought 600 water balloons and 50 yards of plastic for a slip and slide.  When we got to the foundation we realized that the power was out which also meant that the water was off.  That combined with the heat created a bit of a panic among us because we were feeling dehydrated and had no idea when the power would be back on, let alone how we could possibly do our despedida without water.  Reginaldo, the Director, offered to drive us to town to go to the store and buy whatever we wanted.  We wanted to bring popsicles for the boys but we quickly figured out that those don’t really exist in Honduras, or at least not at La Antorcha. 

We bought a few huge bottles of water for ourselves and to share with some of the boys until the water came back on, and we headed back to the foundation.  We soon learned that the while we were gone the water came back on, typical Honduras.  In as discreet of a manner as possible in the foundation we started filling up the water balloons so that we could launch our attack on the boys.  We also started setting up the plastic tarp for the slip and slide.  There wasn’t any water pressure from the hose so we didn’t end up being able to really do the slip and slide successfully, but the day turned into a full fledged water fight.  Apparently at some point teams were made, although Paula, Leah, and I weren’t informed, so we were definitely made the targets!  The boys filled up buckets and pitchers when the balloons ran out, and they absolutely soaked us from head to toe over and over again. 

It wasn’t the typical despedida, but we had so much fun, and it really served to distract us from the fact that we were going to be leaving in a few hours.  It was several hours of pure fun.  Late in the day once the water fights were slowing down and we were all starting to dry off, the four boys that went to camp over the weekend, who happen to be several of our favorites, finally arrived back at the site.  I was so happy to see them and hear about their weekend, that I didn’t realize how quickly the time was going by.  All of a sudden the director told us that he was taking the older boys.  We hadn’t realized that it was going to be so soon, and all of a sudden I was completely overcome with emotion. 

The older boys formed a circle and then the Program director, Lucas, began to speak.  He spent several minutes thanking us for coming down and sharing our time, love, and hearts with them.  He spoke about how friendship does not go one way, but rather is both given and received. Not only do we come down to be their friend and help them, but he wanted the boys to know that we get so much from them too, and that’s why we cry when we leave.  This sentiment absolutely holds true.  Oftentimes, when I tell people about what I do in Honduras they are interested in hearing, but also seem to act like I’m a martyr for some reason.  The reality is I probably wouldn’t do what I do if I didn’t love it and get as much out of it as I do.  Maybe I’m selfish, but being down there is what makes me feel best.  These aren’t just some poor ex-street kids in Honduras, they are human beings.  They are my friends, my brothers, some of the best and strongest people I know. 

After we said goodbye to the boys, Reginaldo mentioned that they were taking the boys to go play in a soccer game.  We were confused, having thought they were headed back up to La Montaña, and then he asked us if we wanted to join them.  Although we had just said goodbye, we jumped in the truck and headed to their game.  As we were driving down the dirt road away from the foundation, with the boys arms around us, we all looked at each other and teared up.  If there was one moment in life that could epitomize happiness for me, I would say it is right there in the back of the truck with Paula, Leah and my favorite 10 boys in the world.  It is a feeling of vibrance, of love, and of life that can’t be compared to anything else.

When we got to the soccer field, to this informal scrimmage, we were able to watch most of the boys play, and able to sit on the side lines soaking up life with the rest.  There was a peaceful serenity to it, but also a desperation.  We knew we were in the last hours we’d have with them for a while, and wanted to just be with them.  We felt lucky to have an extra few hours with them and were glad to be able to bask in our emotions. 

Being at ProNiño is always a roller coaster of emotions because of the intensity of the lives and personalities.  On the one hand we are around boys who have lived for a time as the trash of our society, children without so much as a shelter to protect them.  To survive on the street they must become tough and learn to fend for themselves.  Love and affection is not something that even crosses their minds because they don’t know they are missing it.  In ProNiño, or at least whenever I’ve been there, there has been an overwhelming amount of love, joy and positive energy.  The freedom with which love is given is almost too much to handle, and it makes leaving nearly impossible. 

Leaving the soccer field Paula and I were sitting in the back of the truck staring at all the faces that define happiness and love for us, and in the spirit of saying goodbye on Honduran time we realized I had my credit card and if they hadn’t eaten we could probably take them out to dinner.  We asked their profe Marvin if they had eaten, which we knew what had been for dinner that night and he said yeah, but four hadn’t.  We looked at each other, discussed it for maybe a half minute and decided we wanted to take them out to dinner.  I had my credit card with me, so we didn’t have to worry about having enough cash, so we told them, and the reaction in itself was absolutely worth the $30 that each of us spent. 

The experience of giving is so much more valuable to me when you can give memories rather than money or things.  In this case the boys were so thrilled to be able to go out to dinner, and they ended up deciding on Kentucky Fried Chicken as the place for their big dinner.  We took all twenty two boys from La Montaña, and Reginaldo and Marvin, and had dinner.  As we were sitting at the long table in our family style dinner, and Paula and Leah were upstairs playing in the Playplace side of the restaurant I started to tear up again.  The boys always notice, and are careful not to make fun or provoke more tears, but they carefully asked why I was crying this time (since they had already seen plenty of tears).  Paula, our fluent speaker, explained about this feeling I get where I just love them so much that I just want to spoil them all.  Seeing their faces and how happy they were with this surprise event was enough to make me cry tears of happiness.  It makes me want to give them the whole world.

As we piled into the truck to take the boys back up the mountain, and say our real goodbye, one of the boys thanked us again for dinner.  Paula quickly responded with “No, thank you for sharing all this time and your lives with us”.  A few seconds later the same boy said, “Wow, yeah, I guess we should wake up from this dream”.  And its true, in the past few weeks, in such a short time, we have created a life that I could easily live forever if it was an option. We rode back up to the mountain in a sea of cheers and yelling as the boys celebrated their lives, and it felt like we were a part of a fraternity or a large family.  The feeling of camaraderie is so strong among them that their brotherhood is tangible.  I spent most of the ride in silence trying to absorb as much of the environment as I could before we had to say goodbye, and I sat with Juan Carlos’ arm around me staring at faces that will forever have my heart, in its entirety.

As we said goodbye, the real one, one of the boys that I spent a lot of time with and got to know gave me a strong hug and thanked me for coming down and for being there.  He said “I can’t believe you’re really leaving, I love you so much, thank you for everything.”  Each time I come down I’m lucky enough to meet and hang out with new and different kids, and continue to maintain my friendships with the ones I have known.  Another one, one who I have known for as long as I have known ProNiño, didn't seem sad when we said goodbye, and somehow it kept me from getting emotional too.  He simply looked at me and said, its not good bye because you are always here in our hearts, and I know that you will always come back.  During one of my volunteer interviews, one girl summed it all up really well.  She said that when you come down you have to be ready to love these kids, but also to be prepared to receive love in return.

Monday morning we went back to Las Flores to say by to the younger kids since we left abruptly with the La Montaña boys.  We gave and received some letters, and the boys all got in a circle to speak and if they wanted they could say something about how they felt about us being there.  Lucas spoke and then allowed the profe’s to speak next.  Most of the messages emphasized that we bring joy to the boys and that the doors to ProNiño are always open.  When the boys spoke I was surprised to see which boys decided to stand up, but the things they said will always stay with me.  After all the boys spoke Lucas spoke again.  I had held myself together during most of the speeches, but his really brought out the emotion in me. 

This time he spoke about where our love comes from and even shared a bit about his own life.  He not only thanked us for coming down and bringing so much love and affection that the boys have been missing out on, but he thanked our parents for teaching us how to give, for letting us share ourselves with the boys, and for raising us to be who we are.  He talked a little bit about his own childhood and the lack of a fatherly figure in his life, and how he has learned so much by being at ProNiño in the past ten years.  He says he has learned from our examples, from our willingness to give, and that it has very much altered the way he sees life.  It was at that point when I lost it and started crying.  I know that we give a lot while we are around, but I don't know if we would do it if we didn’t feel like we get so much out of it.  I can’t imagine that I’m able to give more than I feel I’ve received since I know just how much I have gotten out of every experience at ProNiño.

And to top it all off, when I got my iPhone back this morning, I found the boy who had it overnight played the song we wrote for all the boys on repeat until its battery died. I know that it’s a see you soon rather than a goodbye, but until then I know that I’m going to miss them all immensely.  Luckily I know that I’ll be back within four months for a much longer period of time, and for that I’m grateful.

"Love is the condition in which the happiness of another person is essential to your own."  ---Robert Heinlein

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Amor es compartir, amor es ProNiño

Although I have only been living here for a month, this whole place feels like home.  I don't know another place in this world where unconditional love is given so freely.  It is the norm rather than an exception.  Paula, Leah, and I have been talking a lot about our time here and what we have to give to the boys.  Often it feels like we don't have enough, there is never enough time or money or whatever that we have to give, but we have found that even if you are willing to give a little bit of yourself, the boys too are willing to share their whole selves, and all the love they have to give in return.

This past week and a half, we have found ourselves being invited to all sorts of events where we could truly just love and support these boys.  A large problem with the volunteers that come down, and its certainly not with all volunteers, is that they come down, love on the boys and develop strong relationships, and when they return home they get caught up in life and forget to send letters and stay in touch.  The boys thrive on the relationships they develop with volunteers, and really benefit from being loved.  These are kids who in many cases have ended up on the street because their parents didn't have the means or desire to care for them.  Nobody should have to grow up without feeling loved on a regular basis, and while its of course a reality in our world, it doesn't have to be for these boys.  I know that after three trips down here, each trip extending in length, and one much longer trip planned for later in the year, there is no way I could forget about this place.  I have seen some of my favorite boys grow from kids into young men, and I can't imagine not being a part of their lives as they transition into adult life as well.  

This week we were invited to go to the boy's school twice.  The older boys asked us to come, and spent the day hanging out with us and introducing us to their friends, and they kept saying they weren't going to perform anything they just wanted us to be at their "Student's Day".  At the very end of the day, after lying to us for hours, the boys went up on stage and did a break dance performance.  They are so multitalented that its impossible to imagine how any of them could have ended up on the streets.  Knowing that its because of ProNiño that these kids not only have futures, but also have a chance at childhood gives me that feeling where your heart feels too big for your chest.  My eyes water with tears of joy looking at their faces, knowing who they are, and being able to call them my friends, and I know I'm not the only one who feels that way.

Yesterday we went back to school for another student's day celebration, and this time four of our favorite boys weren't there.  We ended up spending most of the day with the younger boys, the two older boys that were there, and also with the girlfriend's of most of our boys.  At the end of the day after hours of hanging out with these girls, we pulled them aside for a serious talk.  Since they are our boy's friends, and since we are leaving on Monday, we asked them to watch out for our boys since they are like brothers to us and not to break their hearts.  Both girls started crying, and I think that in that moment we all realized how special they are to each of us. They have such charisma and strength of character that everyone can't help but love them.

Tomorrow is our last day, and our despedida.  I luckily know with certainty that I will be back, and for even longer, but the longer I stay the less I want to return to the states.  I don't know that another place exists in this world that is so full of love.  Where else in the world can a person receive a hundred genuine hugs per day? 

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

The good and the bad, but always the truth

Today our group finally had an opportunity to perform the surprise we had been planning for so long with the boys.  Last week the group of us, Jenn, Paula, Raquel, Josh and I wrote a song that would fit to the same music as one of the songs that the boys wrote.  We recorded the song later in the week with Leah and began planning the logistics of the performance.  We wanted to make sure the whole foundation could see it at once since we knew that the once it happened they would all find out right away anyway.  It was also extremely important that we maintained the surprise and that the la montaña boys could come down for it since it was those boys that recorded the original song.

We sat down with Lucas, Reginaldo and Bas and came up with a plan to surprise the boys.  We decided that it would be fun if they thought they were in trouble and then were caught off guard by our song.  Bas crashed his car earlier today so he stood up to give them a really serious talk during this party.  He told them very seriously that because he crashed his car the foundation is going to be really tight on money while he saves up for a new one.  They are going to need to cut corners in every way they can, and that there would be no trips for the boys for two months, and the would all only be able to eat two meals a day.  He told the boys they wouldn't be able to drive them to school anymore so they could save gas money.  At first they thought it was funny, but he kept going on and on and on about what a tough time the foundation was going to be having.  Eventually the boys bought into it and some looked extremely worried.  

It was at that point, when we really had their attention, that Raquel went into the room and told Bas to go away because he was being a stupid European.  At that moment we hit the music, all walked into the room together with our Proniño glasses on and glow sticks on our wrists.  As soon as we hit the music the boys laughed a bit because they already knew that we knew the words to their song, but they were going to indulge us. 

That's when they started to realize that the lyrics to our song were different than the lyrics to their song.  All of a sudden we had their full attention and they were dying with laughter and pleasure.  The more they heard of the song, the more they enjoyed it.  Not to mention we had some very gringa dance moves going on.  Needless to say the boys were thrilled with our song, and even the boy who wrote the original song told me he loved ours and approved of it.  I know it can be insulting if someone takes your work and messes it up, but our hope was to make sure that it was different, but something they'd still identify with.  I think my favorite part was the standing ovation we got at the end, as they started chanting "otra, otra, otra!!" (other, other, other!)

Without any more suspense, here is our video! 

Later in the night though, when we arrived home, Leah and I found that both of our wallets had been completely drained of their cash at some point during the party.  I had just pulled money out at the ATM earlier that day, and although I lent some to Kevin and Leah by covering their meals and a taxi, that still left me with $25 work of lempiras in my wallet.  My $15 american dollars were missing too.  It makes me sad that despite all the work we do there, and all the fun things we do for them (like throwing this awesome party) things like that still happen.  I know that the kids' histories are often stronger than their control, but it still makes me sad.  There are many kids who I know couldn't have done it though, because the truth is if they need money for something, and really only the older boys would ever need money, I'd be happy to lend it to them.  I've shown this quality often enough by buying them water/soda and snacks at soccer games, and even lending a little bit of money for them to use an internet cafe.  I'd much rather lend someone money than find out my money has been stolen, but I suppose such is life.

Here are the lyrics to the song, sorry for the poor quality video.

Son los gringos de los gringos
Raquel, Kelsey, Leah Paula y Josh
Desde Hotel Plaza Victoria

Estando en pronino nos conocimos
Y aqui los chicos son nuestros amorcitos (amorcitos)
Estando en pronino nos conocimos
Y aqui los chicos son nuestros amorcitos (amorcitos)

Cada dia en este suelo, con sus abrazos siempre nos llevan al cielo
Siempre estudiando con tanto esfuerzo, sabemos que llegaran muy lejos

Y ahora yo estoy aqui
Para aprender lololo que hay para mi
Son lo mejor que nos ha pasado, y nos gustaria tenerlos a nuestro lado

Estando en pronino nos conocimos
Y aqui los chicos son nuestros amorcitos (amorcitos)
Estando en pronino nos conocimos
Y aqui los chicos son nuestros amorcitos (amorcitos)

No, no podemos vivir asi, si  no estamos alli, por favor, volveremos a ir (x2)

Siempre pensamos en nuestros amigos,
Y aqui aprendemos su gran sentido
Carino, amistad, y una fuerte unidad
Son los valores que compartimos.

Que futuro ustedes tienen, son super guapos e inteligentes,
No los olvidaremos, rompecorazones, rompecorazones…

Estando en pronino nos conocimos
Y aqui los chicos son nuestros amorcitos (amorcitos)
Estando en pronino nos conocimos
Y aqui los chicos son nuestros amorcitos (amorcitos)

Son muchos los voluntarios, pero nosotros los verdaderos
Desde los estados para pronino entero
Los gringos de los gringos

Monday, June 13, 2011

When life hands you lemons, sell bananas

I have been thinking a lot about one of the many wonderful moments I have witnessed since coming down here several weeks ago.  Knowing my personality, the longer I stay the less I will want to leave, especially in times like these.  Last week when we were driving the kids back from school one of my favorite boys, Manuel, the inspiration for my photography project that I'm starting now, started to yell back and forth with one of the local guys in town.  He later told us that the joke around daily, but its the things that he was saying that blew my mind.  While on the surface it seems rude that he was yelling things to this guy who clearly didn't have the best life, the reality is that it shows much more about Manuel, and thereby ProNiño than anything else.  The man's job is selling bananas on the street corner out of a large truck, and the guy is older, and not bright.  Manuel yelled to the guy, "hey! Go study, go to school! You are selling bananas!"  In that moment its impossible to ignore the magnitude of the impact ProNiño has on the boys it serves.  Because of ProNiño the boys like going to school, know without a doubt that they have a future, and know that no matter what they will be successful because they have a support system that ensures it.  Even the banana guy knows it too. 

Friday, June 10, 2011

To love is to share

These boys never cease to amaze me with their kindness and generosity.  Today we went to San Pedro Sula to watch the boys play in a soccer tournament at the Olympic Stadium.  Of course the day was going to be amazing anyway, but throughout the day each just continuously reminded me of why I am so in love with them.  Early in the day we went to buy water for the boys since they didn't bring any, and we bought 40 bags of water (for maybe $6).  A little while later we noticed one of the rival teams was also drinking that water.  When I asked one of the boys if he knew that those were ours, he looked at me and said "amar es compartir" or "to love is to share".  They thought nothing of sharing with their opponents and being friendly off the field.

Later in the day, right before their finals, the boys and profes/coaches invited me into their prayer circle as they prepared for the game.  After their prayer the profe gave a talk about God's will and sportsmanship, and then when he closed it, he singled me out and told me that they, as a team, wanted to give me the trophy if they were to win the game because they feel like I am always with them and supporting them.  I got nervous and blushed, and the feeling of fulfillment was overflowing.  The boys went on to lose the final game 2-0 and I was expecting to see them all come off the field depressed and angry, but instead they were still smiling and laughing.  I asked one what happened and he said, "you know, sometimes you win and sometimes you lose.  If someone wins, someone also is going to lose.  Today that was us, its okay".  

While they were changing back into their normal clothes, the coach came over to me and said, I know its not first place, but we still want you to have our trophy.  I could have cried with joy, not for the trophy, but rather for the reminder that there is still so much good left in humanity, you just have to be willing to look for it.  As we were driving in the back of the pick up truck with all the boys, I couldn't help but think this is it, this is life. And I feel so alive.