They call her Gringa.

USA. Greece. It’s all the same to a single digit Costa Rican child. As long as you are some semblance of white than you’re a gringo. Or maybe it’s just if you don’t speak a lot of Spanish, but I’m definitely leaning towards the white theory based off how much they speak to me in their native tongue. It’s just that there are some kids that are definitely on the light shade of the spectrum and they don’t get called anything but their actual name. It’s only been two days and I do eventually reckon that I’ll be called by a name that was ascribed to me by parents and not young children but I’ll be okay however it turns out. I normally wouldn’t write another post detailing the day so close to the first one but since I did have a new girl join me today, I figured I might as well post another update. Maria Eleni, or better known as Gringa, is a nineteen year old girl from Greece who is here for six weeks. When posed with my hilarious joke question “So I imagine this in your first time working at an oprhanage huh?” she promptly replied with “No.” and I was later to find out she’d also volunteered at both a hospital and a children’s cancer ward as well. She’s a better person than me. Still though, it is quite nice to work with someone else just from a company standpoint, the fact that she has experience in similar locations makes it all the better. The only downfall is that this is another placement where they think I’m the more intelligent Spanish speaker just because I understand a couple more words than someone who isn’t well versed. Though when I think about it, I should probably know far more than I already do since I’ve been in Latin America for three months but until these last couple of weeks, I’ve seemed to always have the privilege of being with at least one person who is fluent in Spanish and I can kind of ride their coat tails. No more. Or should I say “No mas”?Hey-oooooo! Just love to incorporate Spanish snippets into this post. I feel like I’m educating all of my dear, constant readers. The only thing we both noticed which I may have briefly commented on in the last post is that the Tias here do not seem to care. Apparently it’s because they’re lowly paid government employees, but to us at least, it seems that you don’t go exactly into the orphanage business expecting to make the big bucks. From my last placement, the Tia might not have been the most attentive at least when she had volunteers around but you could definitely tell that she cared for the kids. Also, it’s not like she was blatantly ignoring the kids when we were around, but she was doing things like preparing food, or cleaning the house, things that she needed to get done regardless. These Tias sit around on their phone and go on YouTube. They also eat. They also send a multitude of text messages. They gossip with one another. One woman, who is a cleaning lady, works around the entire duration of our stay. She is the only woman who seems to do work while we are there. It’s not an exaggeration, I’m not just saying they aren’t the most attentive, but rather they completely ignore the kids and what they’re doing while we are there. While doing nothing beneficial for the children. Then to top it all off, they completely disregarded a point that Maria made when one of the children fell. At first we were playing a game of spin the children around really fast while they fly through the air and Hank gets super dizzy, and the Tias didn’t seem too fond of the game. Oh, yes, I forgot to mention that they did come to the room that we were in. Because it had an outlet for her to charge her phone. So the Tias get mad at that, we stop, and begin to resume a game of tag or somebody’s a wolf, or the two gringos are possibly attack dogs for a little girl, and a girl falls on the concrete when running. Let’s step back a moment. This girl is Eva. This girl is a child that would make you think, “Why should I have a child when they’re are amazing children like this girl out in the world who might not have a home of their own in the near future and could have to survive with the evil Tias?” That may very well be a long though but it’s popped into my head and I’m sure into Maria’s. This girl, of who I have no idea how long she’s been there, is a beautiful child. Her eyes are bright blueish-gray and I’m glad Maria noticed them too immediately because I thought I was crazy that I was so amazed by them when I barely could tell you the color of anyone’s eyes of who I know. She just seems to understand our struggle and I have no idea if that’s true or I make up those thoughts in my head. She rolls her eyes when children fake cry, she shrugs her shoulders when someone’s fighting and I can’t get them to stop, we had an entire conversation about plates and she seemed to laugh at the absurdity of it all. She also made me help color her drawing provided I did it from the perspective of a panda stuffed animal who’s hand I had to control while it used a crayon. She’s great! She also seems pretty white and doesn’t get called anything like gringa but that’s a story for another day. The point is that we played the game, and then we played tag, and then she fell. She busted her knee up pretty good, and it was bleeding in well, multiple areas. She was crying. We didn’t know what to do, or where a first aid kid was so we called the Tias and they looked her over and then sat her down. Then went back to their cell phones. Then about ten minutes later while she was still bleeding they decided it might be a good idea to get a first aid kid and to at least bandage her knee. I could understand not liking your job, not being stellar at your job, but I couldn’t understand the lack of human decency and sympathy that was being exuded in that moment. The sad thing is that this doesn’t seem like it was a singular moment and has happened before. Basing this off a prior volunteer’s experience, the Tias were entirely unsupportive and she frankly had quite a distaste for them. Either way, the Maria and I aren’t discouraged and we just figure we’ll do as much as we can to interact with the children as we can. We’ll show them affection, we’ll show them love, we’ll show them a good time, we’ll show them new things, we’ll do what we can to help influence and shape their lives into something better. If the Tias aren’t going to help us, then we’re just going to ignore them and do things our own way and make sure the kids are in the most caring hands as possible for the extent of our stay. They deserve that much at least. So it goes.


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