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A Day in the Life of a Volunteer

“This is an experience I would not trade for the world,” says Kevin Mee of Scottsdale, AZ.

KevinReported by Oksana Lypowecky
Communication Officer, NPH Mexico

June 28, 2016
Kevin Mee, a volunteer caregiver and swim instructor, describes what it is like to live and work with hundreds of children at our flagship home in Mexico.

With 500 kids in the Miacatlán home, no two days are alike. Taking care of 45 teenage boys (who are between 11 and 17 years old) and being the swim teacher lacks no dull moments.

Waking up during the week is usually the first challenge of the day.

If you ever tried to get 45, or even one teenage boy up, organized and ready-to-go at 6 a.m. while you are half asleep, then you know what I am talking about.

Once the boys are up and showered they do their morning chores (make their beds and clean the bathroom, living and sleeping areas). Afterwards they go get sweet bread and tea for a pre-school snack.

When the kids are off in school, we caregivers have our own chores to do. We sweep the entire house. We have different “sweep teams” and areas to clean each week.

Once finished, we take a break until 10 a.m. and then go serve the big breakfast to the pequeños. After that they go back to school and we clean the cafeteria.

I have become really good at throwing and directing water from a bucket with my hand – the NPH way of cleaning tables, counters and floors. (The things you learn as a volunteer!)

At 2 p.m. the kids get out of school and we serve them lunch.

That’s when I usually check to see which section group of pequeños is ready for swim lessons.

Doing this every day I constantly hear “KEVIN, KEVIN, KEVIN TODAY IS OUR DAY FOR SWIMMING!!!!!!” If it is not their day they remind me of how many more days they have until their next lesson. To mix it up I say things like “No, today is day of (insert random section here) or today is (insert a different day here),” and see if it confuses them or if they can see through my mischief.

After lunch the pequeños wash their uniforms, do their homework and other chores. Some kids sweep, my boys go to the farm, and others rake the gardens. At this time I go to the pool. I teach two classes a day Mondays through Thursdays.

Once chores and swim lessons are over the kids participate in organized activities – they play soccer, volleyball or basketball; go swimming, running or for a walk; do the Insanity workout, farm activities or play botebote (similar to capture the flag).

When the activities are over, the kids shower and get ready for the 7 p.m. dinner.

What happens after dinner?

It varies per section. For example, the boys in my section who didn’t shower before dinner shower, and once every one is cleaned up we watch a movie until about 9 or 9:15 p.m.

We caregivers make sure the boys all get to bed and quiet down.

At 10 p.m. our day is done.

Is it hard? Yes.

Is it fun? Yes.

Is it frustrating? Yes.

There have been times I have said to myself “I can stay here forever” and other times I have said, “What the heck am I doing here?”

There have been bad days and days where my boys have made me super mad or brought me close to tears. But those days are never twice in a row.

This job has been a growing experience in my life. Looking back at my teenage self, and comparing that to how I am now, 45 different boys have forced me to grow up real quick. Given the opportunity to do it all over again, I would.

This is an experience I would not trade for the world.

Related Information:
NPH Mexico
International Volunteer Program
How Your Help Makes an Impact at NPH

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Photo above: Kevin with one of the boys during Easter Wet Saturday. Photos below: Kevin and two of the younger boys, and with fellow volunteer Katie Theis of Minnesota.