An Average Day at Rancho Santa Fe: Answering the Call To Serve

A volunteer physical therapist from the Netherlands describes a typical day supporting the children at NPH Honduras and empowering our pequeños to keep dreaming.
Februar 27, 2020 - Honduras

“I adore them so much; their home feels like my own,” says Dutch volunteer Hester Jonkheer.
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At six o'clock my alarm goes off. It’s kind of cold. I’m looking forward to getting my legs going and warming up my body with a run. In the early morning I enjoy the quietness of Rancho Santa Fe. No screaming kids, no loud music; only the birds break the silence of the day. It’s getting warmer. The sun is fully up now and the hills are leg-burners, but 45 minutes later I’m very happy that I got up. I’m ready for the day.

At eight o’clock I am in the on-site clinic waiting for the doctor to arrive so I can discuss a case with her. In the meantime, I do physical therapy exercises with Emma who had surgery on both her feet. She came to the ranch a few months ago from a small village up in the mountains. She grew up there with her parents and has a loving family, but because of her club feet she was never able to go to school; she lived her life at ground level. Now she is living with us and I do everything I can to help her be as functional as possible after this course of rehabilitation.

After I discuss my case with the doctor, I walk down to Santa Maria Reina. This is our hogar (home) for girls with physical disabilities. I love to be around these girls. The whole morning is filled with exercises, coloring, wheelchairs, and lots of laughing and hugs. By midday I’m exhausted but content. The girls are ready for a nap, but before taking my break I just want to drop in on teacher Juan Daniel. He is a shoemaker who works in our workshop teaching our youth his trade. He makes orthopedic shoes for the children, too. I want to check how he is doing with shoes for a boy here on the ranch. The 15-year-old fell from a palm tree two years ago. He dislocated his hip and broke his femur bone pretty badly. As a result, he has difficulty walking and one leg is four centimeters (1.57 inches) shorter than the other. The right pair of shoes would literally give him ‘a leg to stand on’ and help prevent future problems.

After lunch I have some time to work with the children who were in school in the morning. This afternoon I’m going to Casa Suyapa, the hogar for our youngest children. I was asked by some caregivers if I could stop by to assess two girls who fall down a lot when they run.

By four o’clock I am tired and hot. Time for a nap before the second half of my day. My hogar, where I spend every evening, houses 11 boys ages 10 to 17. I adore them so much; their home feels like my own. I help handing out food, I laugh at their jokes and play cards with them. And I take time to stop and appreciate how special it is to know these children and help them along their life’s journey.

Being a volunteer at NPH Honduras is not an experience of a lifetime: It is part of your life. It informs your life and you inform the lives of those around you. NPH Honduras is a safe haven amid the intense problems that affect this country. I love being part of this community. Every child here is unique; some have experienced deep trauma and misfortune. My prayer for these kids is that they learn how to dream again. As a volunteer I can help each child find their voice, help them see their own unique qualities, and contribute my skills and talents to their life experience. I can help in the area of my profession, but just as important I can help them discover their dreams for the future.

To anyone who is considering spending a year of your life in service here at Rancho Santa Fe, you will lose the limits of your heart to care for others, and you will gain so much more.

Children’s names have been changed to protect their privacy.

Interested in following in Hester’s footsteps by becoming an NPH volunteer? For more information about our volunteer program, visit nph.org.

Hester Jonkheer   
Physical Therapist and Volunteer, NPH Honduras

 

 

 

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