During our first week back in Zapata, after Spanish school in Ensenada, we spent most of our time visiting all the volunteering locations and learning about their history and mission. We visited a few afterschool daycares – Oasis, Welcome Home, and Chula Vista Community Center; a couple old age homes – Buen Samaritano and Casa Hogar Ebenezer; and a Women’s shelter called New Beginnings.

Visiting these places was an experience of their own. Each place was so welcoming and passionate about the organization and willing to talk to us about the struggles and path they had to take to create the organization. It felt as if we were entering a bundle of both positive and negative emotions when we listened to the stories of the creators. We were very excited to meet the founders of these organizations and they were excited to meet us and have us help them with their daily activities.

One NGO that stood out to me was the women’s shelter. We met Dorothy, the founder of New Beginnings, and we listened to all the empowering and somber stories of the women at the shelter. Many of the women have been involved in the sex trade or were victims of abuse and neglect. The shelter was set up to help these women rediscover themselves and learn skills such as sewing, cooking, and child care. They fundraise for the shelter every weekend by selling jams in three different flavours: Mango, Strawberry, and Mixed Berry, and mixed in are Jalapeño peppers to make a very sweet, spicy and delicious jam, a treat they graciously shared with us.

This week was a great experience, listening to all the stories, and we are all excited to start volunteering next week.

 

– George, Academy Student 2015

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