Tuesday, June 11, 2013

First Day

It has been quite a busy first two days. I arrived on a very historic day in Costa Rica. Salvando Corazones finally opened their doors and the first two girls arrived to live at the safe house. This is the first safe house in all of Costa Rica and is a huge step forward in the fight against sex trafficking. In a country where sex slavery and child prostitution have been so prevalent for so many years, there is finally a place for these girls to get help.

I did may best to stay out of the way and decided to help a group of high school volunteers who were working on building a chicken coop. They are here for about a week and definitely brought upbeat and excited attitudes. It was fun feeling useful and I was able to do something physically active which was nice after a long plane ride which included a red eye from Lima to Miami. 

After only one day Salvando Corazones is already making an impact on the lives of the first two girls to enter the program. It was a long first day for both girls as they drove several hours to arrive at the safe house. Making the transition even more difficult, one girl lost her belongings in transit and arrived with nothing expect for the clothing she was wearing. At first, they were not excited about their new accommodations. A new room, new clothing, and, most problematic, new rules were not easily accepted by the girls.

By dinner time, almost magically the tough outer shells were slowly beginning to fade. The girls and volunteers including me sat down for a wonderful meal of spaghetti, soup, and salad. The food has been great and I have no concerns about going hungry this summer. Even after initially being persistent that she did not eat vegetables (“I am not a rabbit”) by the end of dinner both girls had sampled the soup and the salad and seemed to enjoy the spaghetti. These girls, who at first were unsure if they would be able to accept the rules of the safe house, ended the night helping do dishes and playing Connect Four with several of the other volunteers. It is exciting to see these girls opening up after having been through a life that required them to build so many emotional barriers for their own protection. 

I have really enjoyed everyone that I have met so far and they have helped jump right into working. My main goal is to work with education of the community. I have been working on child abuse prevention lesson plans and learned that I would be putting them to the test after only three days in the country. After a lot of work, I created two "activity books" focused for 1-4 graders and then 5-7 graders to use as we work through the child abuse prevention lesson. The key topics being good touches vs bad touches, good secrets vs bad secrets, private parts, and what to do 1) Say No (How?) 2) Find a safe place (Where?) 3) Talk to a safe adult (Who?). I am excited for the first test run on Friday after showing off on Thursday. 

Tired yet excited, I am off to bed so that I can wake up at 5:30 tomorrow to go for a run which seems like it will be the routine for the rest of the summer. 

Internet is pretty shaky, but hopefully I will have more to update soon. 

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