I’m two days late on posting this week! But technically, I’m five months late with posting on this topic, so what’s two more days?
Did you know that The Children’s Home Project has a Honduran employee? As in employee who lives in Honduras. She’s very white.
Today’s post is about a little treasure that has become the other half of TCHP.
I first met Jilli (the one not wearing a Coca-Cola shirt) in July of 2012 when she joined the second week of our summer trip. She’s one of those people that you feel like you’ve known forever within five minutes and I had to keep reminding myself that she was relatively new to the team and I shouldn’t act like we were already best friends. Of course, we had been emailing for a few months prior to meeting about a kid she had been looking for (read about that here) so technically you could say we already went waaaay back (to March or April). She spoke Spanish, worked hard, blended easily with the team, and loved the kids. By the end of the week she had received and accepted an offer to teach in a bilingual school outside of San Pedro.
I remember thinking “Sweet! Maybe we’ll keep in touch and get together when I’m in the country. Of course, Cofradia is sort of far away. We may or may not actually see much of each other. But this sure has been a fun week with her!”
Chuckle, chuckle, snort.
Jilli was on the team that was in Proniño the first week that Wilmer was off the street. She watched him struggle as he was detoxing. She took much appreciated creeper pictures of he and I. She got to see his few little victories as he worked hard to stay busy to distract himself from his desire to return to the life that we were desperately trying to pull him from. A month or so after we met, Wilmer ran away. To say I was crushed is an understatement. (So many links to other posts today!) I cried. I looked at tickets to go back. I journaled my little heart out. And I emailed the team to let them know what had happened. Jilli’s response?
“Where do you think he went? How do I find him? And what do I do if I’m able to?”
My desire was still to be there scouring the streets for Wilmer. But to have someone who was eagerly willing to do it since I couldn’t…(insert every analogy of what if feels to have a weight lifted off of you.) I gave her a few suggestions, wrote a letter for her to give to Wilmer and the next chance she had, she was on the hunt.
This little excursion led to spending more and more time on the street. Looking for kids who had run away. Getting to know kids who had been there for a while. Asking really good and hard questions. Reading books on how to help. It dawned on me after a few months that she was doing every single thing that I wished I could be doing with the kids on a regular basis, without any specific guidance or direction. She just fit.
“Hey, so when you’re done with this teaching thing in the summer, do you want to do what you’re already doing, but full time?”
Jilli said that she was going to have to think about it, pray about it, talk to her parents, figure some things out with school, weigh the pro’s and con’s and then let me know.
Oh, wait, I’m sorry, that’s what most people would do. Scratch that. What actually happened was that Jilli said yes so quickly that I wan’t sure that she had had time to fully read my question.
And this is how Jilli became the most dedicated volunteer until in June she became the most awesome boots on the ground lover of children who receives a very small stipend that I have ever met.
Top three things that I appreciate about her and the reasons I’m thankful that she found The Children’s Home Project.
1. Initiative: “The ability to assess and initiate things independently. The power or opportunity to act or take charge before others do..” While leading a team in July, all I had to say was that I was going to throw up and she seamlessly took over the rest of the evening of team leading. To get sick and know that I could completely check out and focus on my sickness with no worries about how that would affect the team. It was marvelous. For me, initiative like that is so hard to find. And she shows it in so many ways other than getting food ordered to satiate a group of famished young adults. This may be the number one reason that I’m able to breathe easy when I’m in the States. The plan is for Jilli to lead all future teams and her ability to see what needs to get done and then do it makes me feel even better about this plan. And if you’re ever on her team and she starts throwing up, please step up and take over. It’s super helpful.
2. Have you read her blog? The girl can write. And she’s funny. You should head that direction when you’re done here. www.sinquesosinmantequilla.wordpress.com
3. Gosh does she love, fight for, believe in and pray for the kids we work with. Every time I thought about having someone working in Honduras, I worried that I would have to figure out a way to keep them motivated from afar. Nope. If anything I have to tell her to take a break for goodness sake. She pours time, attention and love into numerous kids. When they express a desire to change their situation, she researches and networks and sometimes nags directors of homes to find a place for a kid to go when he wants to leave the street. When a child is overwhelmed or stuck in a rut because of his past she reads book after book after book to try to understand what he is going through and how best to impart wisdom that will set him free. She makes them really yummy birthday cakes. This is not a job but a passion for her.
You know how when you’re doing yoga or working out they say that if you work on your stomach you also need to take some time to work on your back? Otherwise things are out of whack. I just listed some of her pro’s and to balance it out here are her cons:
1. She doesn’t like small animals. This is truly worrisome.
2. It takes her a really long time to upload pictures of the kids that I’m dying to see. (And I feel like after writing all this really great stuff about you, I deserve some pictures. Right Jilli?)
Ok, I think we’ve covered all bases.
I remember back in the day when Sean and I were moving to Honduras and we had to raise a whole bunch of money to eat and pay rent and put gas in Rosa (may she rest in peace.) It was daunting. So, with Jilli, it was decided that she would be given a small stipend to make the amount she would have to raise to live there a little smaller. Then she could figure out her budget and raise the rest. The thing is, Jilli’s apparently timid when it comes to asking people to support her so she can eat. I have no idea how the girl is paying rent. So, if you would like to make sure that Jilli eats more than baleadas (she loves them, but this is not a balanced diet) and is able to put gas in our truck named feo (to bring kids off the street or take a kid to NA or pick up a mom to go visit her son in Proniño) you can click here and set up a monthly or one time donation. She even has her very own donation box! She’s big time.
So, Jilli, about those pictures…