|Lunch at the pool yesterday, courtesy of Charrissa|
Like me, a lot of them have ended up helping out at the children's guardaria here in Copan, where about 40 children are cared for in rough conditions (some live there, others are in day care).
I recently met three young Americans who stumbled upon Angelitos Felices last year when they were on holiday here and then came back this summer for several weeks specifically to volunteer their time at the home every day. Another fellow from Stockton, Calif. was here in early June doing the same thing, overseeing a small construction project at Angelitos in an attempt to rectify at least some of the many structural problems the place has.
The young woman who introduced me to Angelitos four months ago, Emily Monroe, is a particular force for good at Angelitos. She's a go-getter from Pittsburgh who has been in Copan almost two years teaching English at the American-run Mayatan Bilingual School.
She has finished that work but is staying on in the community for another year or so to realize a really big dream of hers: To build a bigger, better home in Copan for children like the kids at Angelitos, one that not only provides food and shelter but more support in all the areas children need help with to grow into healthy, happy and productive adults. (Read more about her project and how you can support her here.)
Emily has played a major role in introducing other travellers to Angelitos and helping them find ways to use their skills to support the children. I've started to think of her as the "hub" for all of us - the one who knows everything that's going on at the place and puts in time to help us connect our collective efforts for maximum impact.
A young woman from New Zealand, Charrissa Taylor, arrived in town recently to spend five months volunteering four days a week at Angelitos, doing child-development activities with the children under five. There'd be no such thing at the home if it weren't for her.
She and Emily are regulars at the every-other-Sunday swims that Paul and I are doing with the kids. And they often bring along other young travellers who don't hesitate to jump into the pool to lead a game of Simon Says with the children, or to swim back and forth with various young ones hanging from their necks (a favourite activity).