I spent the summer of 1984 as an Amigos volunteer in Paraguay living with a young family in a rural town. We were giving immunizations against Yellow Fever and Measles (we practiced on oranges and paper bags at our weekly Amigos meetings to get good at it). People would line up every day at the house where I was staying asking me to help with their illnesses and maladies. At 16 there wasn't much I could do but I was able to help one boy who had his arm in a sling and having read the book 'where there is no doctor', I knew his arm needed to be elevated so I retied the sling. We were able to mix up some drinks to help with dehydration issues they had. Then we had brought balloons (and practiced beforehand) to make balloon animals-the kids in town had never seen balloon and loved it. So fun!
The summer of 1985 I was an Amigos volunteer in Guanajuato, Mexico building latrines. They did not have any bathrooms prior to this and illness was a reality based on this. Most of the men did not want women doing the actual labor as that is the culture, so I did alot of explaining and supervising while men in town constructed. We knew how to make a cement base and build the whole latrine based on practice back home. We would walk an hour each week to go wash our clothes in a stream and rinse off. It was funny because the donkeys would go to the bathroom upstream while we were doing this which of course defeated some of the purpose as it flowed into our washing water :). It was so hot that by the time we walked home we were all sweaty and dirty again! The most exciting moment was when I returned to my first town at the end of my summer and the town was so proud to show me how they had completed other latrines and had even found some blue paint somewhere to give some color! They sent me home with some homemade tamales (one of my favorites dishes to this day) put in a big olla (pot) we carried water in. This program introduced me to what would become some of my best friends and gave high school kids an opportunity to step foot outside of our privileged lives and see another side of the world and to make a difference. Amigos is truly one of the best organizations of all times and I cherish the memories! May the good work continue forever!
I've personally experienced the results of this organization in...
becoming a volunteer and traveling to Latin America to help out.
Ways to make it better...
If I had to make changes to this organization, I would...
provide them with unlimited resources and finances! I try to publicize it whenever I can. Mostly it runs out of New Trier High School in the Chicago area and I would love my boys to be a part of it too but not sure how feasible it is since we are not in that school district. Thanks Amigos!
Would you volunteer for this group again?
For the time you spent, how much of an impact did you feel your work or activity had?
Did the organization use your time wisely?
Would you recommend this group to a friend?
Did your volunteer experience have an effect on you? (teaching you a new skill, or introducing new friends, etc.)
Very much so. New friends that became my best friends. Gave m e the opportunity to see another side of life, outside of our priveleged one and to appreciate what I have and help others. I greatly improved my Spanish. We knew we were immersed when we started dreaming in Spanish during our summers!
How did this volunteer experience make you feel?
Happy and proud to be making a difference and seeing the world