Saturday, July 23, 2011

The Memory Project

 Ben Schumaker arrived here in Cuernavaca on Thursday evening. Ben runs a nonprofit called The Memory Project. The website is and here is a quote about his organization.

"The Memory Project is a unique initiative in which art students create portraits (drawings, paintings, graphic design, etc) for children and teens around the world who have been orphaned, neglected, or disadvantaged.

To do this, the artists receive photos of kids waiting for portraits and then work from those photos to create the portraits. Next, we deliver the portraits to the kids as special gifts, and we also take photos of them holding the portraits.

The goal of the project is to inspire caring, global friendship, and a positive sense of self."

Friday, July 22, 2011

Bits and pieces of my job

One piece of my job is that I work in the department entitled projects. Updating a website called will be one of my main focuses for projects. Basically I will figure out what is needed in the two houses here in Mexico and then update the website so that people in other countries can "purchase" items for us. Then once a person donates the money to us so that we can buy whatever product they purchased, it is my job to take pictures to send to the donors to prove that we did in fact spend their money on the things they wanted us to. 

In Miacatlan we have a small garden and farm. Currently on the farm we have some pollitos (baby chicks). I believe that is what they are called. Although I have received mixed reviews when I use that word. Anyway, recently on the website we were asking people to help us buy chicken feed so for the thank you pictures I will be sending to the donors I took the following pictures to prove that we do in fact have cute little chicks and that we are feeding them. 

I know what you are thinking. I have the funnest job in the world. Taking pictures of adorable children and baby chicks. Yes, you are right. Parts of my job are very fun. However, you have no idea how difficult and time consuming it was to get just a few girls to come do a quick photo shoot with me. NPH is like a well oiled machine that you have to figure out how to jump into. If not. You get left behind. This organization has been around for over 50 years so parts of it can be very structured. In the summer there are activities going on almost constantly so it was difficult to pull a few kids aside for a 15 minute break. With the help of a few volunteers who speak better Spanish than I, the task was completed eventually. 

And here is the end result of my photo shoot day. 

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Mi nueva casa

 The room I share with Bailey. We considered using matching blankets on our beds so we would match but we decided that was too much too soon for our friendship.

I brought my Nikki Mcclure art to help decorate. 


 Living room area. Kitchen is on the other side of the archway.

View of the sunrise from my living room. 

And this my loves, is where I will be living for the next year. 

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

"We are home"

We eat all of our meals in what we call the comedor. The comedor is basically a cafeteria but I believe the word translates to dinning room. NPh has a very low food budget because most of the food is produced by us or else donated. Yesterday in Miacatlan I saw where the fruits and Vegetables are grown as well as where the animals are kept before slaughtering. The foods we eat are pretty basic and plain. Some meals are better than others, but it's all eatable. Lots of beans, rice and tortillas. Sometimes a meat that is difficult to identify and often the donated fruits and veggies are clearly what could not be sold in the stores. Tonight though. Tonight was pretty darn good. It was cold and rainy tonight so the hot meal was just what Bailey and I needed. This might not sound very exciting but I will share with you what we ate. A rice pilaf sort of thing, so rice with some spices and veggies in it. Coupled with lentils, which we have not had the privilege of  consuming so far. And all of this topped with what we thought at first were french fries but they turned out to be sort of like potato chips that were in the shape of french fries. Very strange I know but quite delicious.  And after Bailey's first bite she said "Yuuuuum. We are home".

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

?Donde es Meghan?

I realize that it might be a bit late for this as I have already been out of the U.S. for over two weeks now, but I thought I would give you all an idea of where I am in case you didn't know. I am living in the town of Cuernavaca which is south of Mexico City. And the other orphanage where I will be traveling to for work every few weeks and where many of the other volunteers will be working is in a town called Miacatlan. You can see on the second map that Miacatlan is south west of Cuernavaca. 

I hope this gives everyone more of an idea of where I am going to be spending my time over this next year. 

Sunday, July 17, 2011

The start of something new

Alli, a fellow volunteer, is celebrating her 22nd Birthday today. As I stated in my last post, this weekend is our descanso weekend so we did some exploring as well as some eating and celebrating. 

This. Was perhaps the best burrito of my life. Vegetarian and only 35 pasos. 

I am tempted by these churros each and everyday. 


  Breakfast food for dinner in honor of Alli's Birthday. 

After dinner the group went dancing. For some very strange reason I assumed that the bars and clubs closed at two in the morning as they do in the States. Wrong. All of a sudden it was three A.M. and the dance floor was just as packed as when we had arrived. I realize that I might get a lot of shit for this, however, I was shocked last night at just how much of an old soul I am. Have I been aging at a more rapid rate than other people in their twenties? I seem to remember only a few years ago being able to dance all night long, and as much as I honestly adore dancing, staying out till four or five in the morning is something that I will not be able to do again for a long time. 

First descanso

The Spanish word descanso translates to rest. Descanso is what we call our free weekends. And this weekend is the first free weekend as volunteers here at NPH. It is also the last weekend that the 6 new volunteers will have together because in the future we will be split into two groups and getting our descanso every other weekend. 

To take advantage of our free time we did a bit of exploring. 

Jardin Borda

Catedral de Cuernavaca

Saturday, July 16, 2011

I will not.

I will not lie and I will not exaggerate.

Tonight I was caught in the biggest rain storm of my life.  Here in Cuernavaca it is the rainy season so it has been raining really hard in the evenings and during the night. Sometimes thunder and lightening. But tonight. Tonight was different. I honestly thought I might not make it home. I was on the ruta (bus) with Wesleigh, a fellow volunteer from the Seattle area, and we could not see out the windows to see when our ruta stop was. And when we finally figured out where to get off the ruta we had to jump across a river of rapidly flowing water. We then had to walk only a block and a half home, unfortunately it was through fast moving water that went to the middle of our calves.

As I was trekking through this rain storm I kept picturing myself falling due to the current and being whisked quickly down the river road.

Speaking of rivers and roads.

There is a lovely song that I highly recommend called rivers and roads and I thought of it today during my adventure.

Monday, July 11, 2011

The prom I never had

Recently I listened to an episode of This American Life with many different stories and each of them about prom. The first was a story of a group of kids who had a tornado hit their town while they were in prom. The others were stories reminding us of how important the prom may or may not have been to us at the time. Looking back on my prom I can't help but think of how much money I must have spent on that evening. And not only that but how much money our student body must have spent on it. And in all honesty, I'm not sure that I had that great of a time. This past weekend I was able to attend a prom like after graduation party here at NPH.

Everything about it was lovely. The thing that struck me the most was that as far our standards go in the U.S. for a prom, the decorations were fairly simple. Here at NPH it's not like there is a huge amount of money flying around so spending money on extravagant things like prom decorations is not the biggest concern. But I can say without hesitation that the kids seemed to have more fun than I did at my own prom. Every single person spent the evening dancing for hours in the hot heat.

I was also so thankful that we as the volunteers were included in their celebration. The kids never failed to make us feel welcome in their circles of movement. This year prom was filled with dancing, laughter and sincere excitement that you cannot buy. 

Here are the volunteers and I taking modeling tips from Natascha for our prom photos.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Graduation weekend

Our first weekend here in at NPH is a big one. The graduation weekend. Friday we went to Miacatlan for the graduation for the kids leaving kindergarden, elementary school and middle school. The majority of the ceremony is the same as it would be in the states but the unique part is that all of the graduating classes perform a dance for the audience before they get their diplomas. Yes, even the kinders. Cute. Very cute.

What struck me most about these graduations was actually that many of the kid's god parents, or sponsors, flew in for the graduation. I found it quite touching that so many people have such personal relationships with the kids that they sponsor.

Saturday was the high school graduation followed by a dance where the other volunteers and I danced the night away with the kids. They were filled with such joy that it would have been difficult not to have a good time at this function.

Here are a few pictures of Miacatlan and the graduations.