Fond Farewells & Muchas Gracias

Posted: March 15, 2011 in Casa Hogar Trisker Children's Home, Childcare, Community Development, Conservation, Construction, Gratitude

So, this past weekend the time that I hate came around again, the time when we have to say goodbye to volunteers as they return home or carry on with the next step of their journeys.  And what amazing volunteers these 3 ladies were. I can’t believe they were only here for a little over a week.  But it goes to show, it is not how long you stay or how much time you have to volunteer, it is the attitude you bring with you that will be truly appreciated and leave a lasting impression. And what an impression they made. Attitude? Work Ethic?  Astounding.

But first let me go back to their arrival and share with you just some of the things they got up to during their time here in Panama (well maybe not all of their tales, that is for them to share!). Charyn Pfeuffer, a food, travel and lifestyle journalist from Canada, swapped her Blackberry for a backpack and is aiming to volunteer with 12 community projects in 12 countries over 12 months. We are very proud to be just one step in her volunteer adventures and were very happy to know that for this part of her travels she would be accompanied by Julie and Jen, 2 friends from back home in Canada.

All the ladies arrived safe and well and eager to get started. Actually, that is not exactly true. Charyn arrived and had just recently had her laptop stolen. And there she was smiling brightly and with a simple shrug of the shoulders, “Oh these things happen, you know, it was partly my fault, I didn’t think…anyway I’m so happy and excited to be here, are we going to the orphanage right now?” Like I said.  Amazing. I would have been inconsolable. Or, at the very least, in a real bad mood and not exactly of the attitude to go and volunteer. But with Charyn. No. Positivity beams out of her and nothing was going to sway her mission.

First day at Casa Hogar Trisker with those (heavy) suitcases!

On arrival at “Casa Hogar Trisker”, the local orphanage here in Boquete, the ladies brought with them 3 large suitcases from home. Suitcases full of clothing, toiletries, toothbrushes and toothpaste, diapers and wipes…all those essential items that places like Casa Hogar Trisker have an immediate and constant need for. On their behalf, muchas gracias. Volunteering there myself I know how daunting that first day can be, surrounded by so many children who simply want your attention, to play, learn and have fun. I hope she won’t mind me saying but during the first few minutes there Julie seemed a little taken aback, unsure of exactly what to do with the children, perhaps not having been round young children in such numbers or situations before.  But, knowing the wonders of the children there I knew it wouldn’t take long, and sure enough, within the next few minutes there she was romping around and playing horses with several of the younger ones. Their laughter and delight was tangible for all to see, and Julie’s too! Further days were spent playing games, jig-saws, looking at books and then before you know it time’s up. For everyone who volunteers at Casa Hogar Trisker these children will touch your heart and soul and even after spending only a short time there it was difficult for our Canadian friends to say goodbye. In Julie’s own words, “It will be hard to leave them for sure.  Although I did have one pee on me so I won’t miss that, but I will miss being greeted with the hugs and smiles!”  But hopefully it wasn’t a final goodbye. The ladies have stated that they wish to continue their fundraising campaigns for the orphanage. To hear that people have been so touched and want to continue to support an organization even when they are thousands of miles away is always great news and we will be behind you all the way.

Further still, working at Casa Hogar Trisker in the mornings here wasn’t enough for these dedicated ladies. They spent afternoons volunteering with an organization committed to air, water, and food security for indigenous areas.  From Jen’s photograph below you can see they worked hard and got down and dirty in assisting with the construction of smokeless stoves.  This is hard, physical labor and again the ladies gave it their all. I’m sure they will have found muscles they never knew about. So, if ever you want a smokeless stove built, or simply desire to talk about cement mixes (who knows what lights your fire, so to speak), you now know who to call!

Some stove action from Jen and Charyn!

Muchas Gracias Charyn, Julie and Jen. We miss you already. Come back and see us soon.

Caroline Walker

TVR Volunteer Coordinator

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