My first days at the Refugio

Sometimes I wonder how all of this started and how it came that I started to work at the Refugio. It is a chain of incidences that brought me there and I thank whoever is coordinating my fortune. A friend in Quito told me about the place and that they were looking for volunteers so I wrote an email and two days later I made my way up the insanely steep hill that leads to the place. Looking back I cannot really tell what I was expecting to find. I already work five days a week as a volunteer in another organization and I was pretty busy and not exactly looking for more tasks.

But once I arrived it took me about two seconds to realize that I could not just turn my back on this place. That I would come back and spend more time. The “Refugio de los Sueños” is located in a barrio on one of the countless mountains of Quito. The historic center and the new town seem miles away. The Refugio offers children who do not have a homely house a save and comfortable place to play, to relax, to do homework and get support for whatever bothers them in their lives. The staff finds a good way between friends, supporter, sometimes parents or siblings and persons in charge. I just now learned of the stories of some children. Because they told me something about their homes in a serenity and seriousness that I would not expect from a seven year old child. The stories are touching and often not easy. But the kids know that they can tell them at the Refugio and that there will be people who listen. They know that they can also trust me, even if I just have been there for a short time, because they know that people who walk through the door of the Refugio are trustworthy people.

We do little crafts with the children, play games, paint faces, read books and help with homework. There is always a lot to do for me because most of the time we are way too few adults for the children because the Refugio does not get funding by the government anymore. When I arrive there are normally a hand full of children running up to me to get a hug. I feel needed and welcomed there by everyone and for me that is the start for a good volunteer work. Sometimes it is not easy. Some children don’t seem to get a lot of love at home so they are literally fighting over your love and your attention. But that is a task that can be solved. I am really looking forward to spending a year with the people of Refugio. I know that they give me the freedom to do my own projects. And I am already in love with the children and feel bad about leaving again because they get emotionally attached so easily. But when I come back to Quito this would be the first place I would visit!

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