I am currently on my sixth volunteer service trip to Honduras. My first visit was exactly two years ago. It is amazing how much the village of Villa Soleada has changed and developed. When I first started, Students Helping Honduras (SHH) had already complete all 44 houses, a full-size soccer field, and had begun construction of the education center. Now, two years and six trips later, SHH has finished the education center and built an additional two children's homes, three water towers, four schools in nearby villages (with the goal of 1000 schools by 2020), a large garden for self-sustainability and income, a volunteer house for volunteers to live in (as opposed to staying at a nearby hotel), and many more projects.
I love returning to Villa Soleada because I am part of a family here. The children and the parents always remember me by name and I can see the excitement in their smile when I walk off the bus to greet them. I have grown especially close to one of the kids, Jorge, who I have known since my first trip here. I have not been to Villa Soleada in an entire year; I saw Jorge on Sunday and he is almost as tall as me! It is amazing coming back and seeing how the village and its people are growing.
It has been the hottest spring I have experienced here – about 120 degrees! Luckily, yesterday and today it has been rainy and a lot cooler out. Even though it is wet, it definitely makes working outside in the sun better. We spent Sunday mixing cement with shovels (the most fun way to mix cement!). My body is still recovering from that hard day! Our current project is building a three-roomed biligual school that will be an addition to the education center, and also building a wall around the perimiter of Villa to provide additional security to the villaje, which is in a dangerous part of Honduras. This extra security is needed especially since the childrens’ home has taken in kids from ophanages; Honduras is plagued with issues surrounding the treatment and kidnapping of orphans.
The week ended on a very high note. As a diverse group of college students from around the country, we certainly bonded very closely. We all share a unique experience that the vast majority of Americans have not and will not experience. With our teamwork and help from the locals, the bilingual school is now almost ready to have the roof put on, and the village wall has expanded to protect even more of the village. I cannot wait to return in June to see the progress of these projects.
More about George.