“Amor” by Kelsey Werner

Study Abroad Country: Ecuador

This was my first week at my internship at the battered women’s shelter. It has been rough. Really really rough. I watch over the niños there. But these are special niños. When I first got there, I was so excited to just play with them every day. But I quickly found out that behind their cute, smiling faces, almost all of them have a devious and slightly evil side. They have come from horrid situations and are extremely demanding and challenging. They do not know how to behave properly and do not play well with each other. I have been pinched, snotted on, hit, and climbed all over like a jungle gym.

I know that all kids can be this way, but these children are to the extreme. And when you are the only person watching ten to twenty kids under the age of eight by yourself in a room full of toys, it is kind of a disaster. I just get completely overwhelmed a lot. It also doesn’t help that I cannot understand a word they say. They speak Spanish, but it is little kid Spanish which is very fast, and it is often through tears. I just nod and smile a lot. Every time I turn around, there is another one crying because another kid stole a toy, hit them, or just looked at them. Seriously. It is a mad house sometimes.

These little children break my heart. They are dirty, smelly, and crave attention. Their mothers are not well-equipped to take care of them and often do not respond correctly if at all. The kids have suffered so much. I was braiding the hair of one little girl and found that her hair tie was rubber from a rubber glove. I wish I could just buy her the prettiest hair ties and clips to put in her fine, soft hair. There is one baby girl who has burn scars all over her. I haven’t worked up the courage to ask what happened. I just hold her and hug her tight. I was helping another girl with basic multiplication tables. We didn’t get past the 4’s. I am pretty sure she is eight or nine and she can barely add.

Every time I walk to work, I just pray for patience, strength, and love. I have needed a lot of it lately. The niños really wear me out. This eats up almost all of my free time now so I don’t have as much time to rest or hang out. In between classes and work, all I do is eat, take naps, and try to get homework done. I end each day absolutely exhausted. Weekends are now my best friends, even more than ever.

I am officially done with 1/10 of my hours. This is going to be a long journey. I am sure I am going to learn and grow a lot over the next few weeks. It’s now funny to me how all I wanted was to get this internship, and now that I have it, it is extremely difficult. Life works that way. I don’t regret the switch though. I know I am here for a reason. But it is not going to be easy and I need a lot of prayer. This experience has been full of ups and downs all weaved together. I know that I am going to get through this one way or another. I just truly hope that I can make a difference there and show tons of love to the niños. That’s all for now. I’ll try to write again soon. 

Con todo mi amor,

Kelsey