Finding Boundless Love
“Being here for more than five years means everyone knows who you are, and you can’t help but feel loved,” says Andrew Baroody.
Reported by Oksana Lypowecky
Communication Officer, NPH Mexico
July 18, 2016
In July 2016, Andrew Baroody returned to Herndon, VA, after spending five years at NPH Mexico. He started as a caregiver/swim instructor and left as volunteer and visitor coordinator. In his own words, he tells us a bit about his experience.
I found out about NPH from an old dorm buddy who volunteered for two years at NPH Mexico. Having studied a semester in Mexico and having a great joy and gift for working and being with kids, NPH sounded like the perfect fit for me. Beginning my volunteer year in January 2011, just shy of 23 years old, I had no idea that five years later I would still be here, nor how much this home would really come to change my life.
My volunteer experience as a caregiver and swim instructor impacted me so much that one year would not be enough. Two-and-a-half years after beginning I left not knowing if I would ever return as more than a visitor. A few months later I got a call offering me the opportunity to return as the volunteer and visitor coordinator. I was going back.
I originally became a volunteer because I simply loved working with kids and wanted to be able to do that somewhere it was needed. I came back because I grew to love these kids, and relished the thought of being able to spend more time as a part of their lives.
What he has learned
Teaching. Learning. Boundless love. Working together as a team with people from tons of cultural backgrounds and upbringings. Sharing.
I remember one birthday: I was a caregiver for 30 or so six- to nine-year-old boys. They got wind it was my birthday (they always do) and many came to me and gave me their little toy car or a stuffed animal or some other small trinket. I left the dorm with my arms full of toys I would never use, but an even fuller heart and eyes filling with tears.
These tiny, beautiful little humans had taught me yet again what it is to give, and their giving only made me conscious of how much more I myself could give.
Each of them only had but two or three small toys of their own, and here they were giving me one of the few things of their own without hesitation.
How he has grown
I’ve grown as a professional in organizational, communication and leadership skills.
I’ve learned I need very little to be happy with the life I have and I’ve learned countless times that with very little investment in a child you can see great returns, in the form of a smile, a hug, a connection, a high five, in renewed positivity, in hope, in admiration.
A great memory is teaching kids to swim. And watching the process of realization take place – that they can do it all by themselves; the joy that shines forth in their eyes and smiles in that moment; and the excitement, which stays with them for months and even years. Every time I visit the pool they remind me they remember who taught them to swim and enthusiastically show their new skills.
Most fun/best occasion
The International NPH Soccer Tournament, hosted in Mexico in 2014. It was incredible to see the kids mingling with Pequeños from other countries they’d only just met, watching games and eating together, sharing cultures, realizing that they too are part of our own family, swapping jackets from respective countries, sharing tears upon saying farewells after a week of getting to know each other and bonding.
What he will miss
Being here for more than five years means everyone knows who you are, and you can’t help but feel loved.
It’s impossible to walk through the home without hearing your name a handful of times and slapping a few backs and hands. I will miss those yells, those high fives, those passing hugs, those random visits to my office when I’m swamped with other work.
Without a doubt, most of all I’ll miss the kids.
Photos by Katie Baroody