Letters from Honduras

Wisbech Lions Club are proud of the support we have given to so many young people over past years. We recently joined with others who helped Jodie Rhodes financially as she set off on an adventure in Honduras, helping children to learn English. Jodie sends us emails and we are publishing them here to encourage others who may wish to follow. Jodie is serving the community in such a special way and as you will see is greatly increasing her own life skills. When she returns she is assured a place at Manchester University.

First update from Honduras

Hello!
I thought it was a good time to catch everyone up on what I’ve done in the last month or so! Over this week I’ve been adding to this (very long) email ready to send this weekend. The travel was, as you would expect from 30 hours with no sleep to be, not overly relaxing. Having said that, stepping out of the airport in San Pedro Sula was genuinely magical. We stayed the night in San Pedro before travelling to our projects.


The first week in Yamaranguila consisted of meeting people, assisting in the school to get a feel for the lessons, shopping, and exploring. I was invited to game night and to help out on a local farm when I went to bible study with some teachers.


Game night was very fun. But the farm…Oh my gosh! My favourite animals are farm animals, and they had all of them! Cows, goats, pigs, ducks, chickens!!! The farm is a girls home where kids from the Honduran foster care system are placed. We live in a big yellow house, suitably called Casa Amarilla, with a Honduran teacher called Marilin, an American teacher called Rebecca, and of course Honor, my project partner. (and don’t forget Marilin’s dog, Bruno). We have our own rooms, which is a luxury, and all out rooms lead out to a shared balcony stretching the length of the house, where we get a beautiful view of the sunsetting over the mountains. We live on a large wooded plot of land, with fruit and coffee trees all around. The lemons are HUGE, think a little bit bigger than a grapefruit.


The younger kids are adorable, in my free periods, I go and sit with them and help them with their assignments or play with them to give them a break. I got my first drawing as a teacher and they all hug me goodbye (unless I’ve made them do a worksheet). The kids I actually teach are aged 7-13 years which makes teaching hard because of the wide range in abilities.
The main teacher of our class had to go back to the states after the first day, so Honor and I had to become the main teachers. I teach Maths, reading, and Phonics, Honor teaches Spelling and ESL. We were originally told we would be assisting in all classes and teaching Spelling, so we’ve had to adjust rapidly to the new responsibility. I have a new found respect for teachers because this is exhausting (but still rewarding). Their English has come a long way in the 2 weeks we’ve been working with them!

As they are learning American English, I have frequently had to swallow my pride and spell colour without a ‘U’ or say words in an American accent just so they understand what I am saying. Phonics is a mix of me figuring out which accent makes the most sense for that words. E.g. Ball makes more sense in a US accent as in UK English it sounds like ‘bo’ not ‘ba’. Hopefully that makes sense!


It is so lovely to see them communicate to me solely in Spanish, to asking me things in English. They should be so proud of themselves! We are still in the very beginner stages of English but they are such a fun class and even if they’re having a distracted day, they are still around English and picking up tones etc. It’s so weird being called Miss all the time! I often don’t answer because I’m still in student mode. Trying to get the kids to be at their native English speaking counterparts in America level is very challenging.


Honduras is so green, mountainous, and dusty. The houses are all colourful and they had lorries like the ones you see in American films (I’ll add a picture) It still amuses me greatly! I am both pleased and scared to say that I have met my first big spider, and scorpion!


I hate coffee. But it’s so good here! The head teacher of the school owns a coffee farm in La Union and he gets it delivered to the school, so we get a constant supply of it. I like it best black with sugar. In the UK, I don’t even really enjoy lattes because of the coffee taste.
Another thing I hate, laundry. I have managed to slither my way out of this by being the chef for Honor and I, and in return, she does our washing and washes up. I love cooking, and have learnt how to cook some traditional Honduras meals!


Honor and I also listen to a Ted Talk each week and then we discuss it. Last week was one about starting over in a new country. This week’s is about Islam.


Power cuts are quite common here. If we have no power, that means we have no electricity, Wi-Fi, or water. We have buckets of rainwater ready but it is dry season, so we have to be careful with how much we use it. Power cuts usually consist of us roasting marshmallows (which are incredible here) over candle light, making baleada’s (tortilla with refried beans, mantequilla- thick cream cheese), and heart to hearts. As much of a pain as it is, I do enjoy them. Water has been quite weird for us. The first day we arrived at our house, we found a dead rabbit in the water supply so we had to drain it all out and wait for the community water to fill it back up. It still isn’t full but as long as we are careful, we have enough to do what we need to do.


Next weekend, some other PT volunteers from La Union are coming to visit us. We are going to take them on a hike to see the waterfalls in Yamaranguila which will be exciting. Hopefully I wont sprain an ankle! I don’t have the best track record with this.


I no longer get homesick, and I am getting more and more settled each week. I feel I was definitely ready to move out and discover my independence and new responsibility. My Spanish is improving. It’s still very limited but I can communicate in the markets and shops fairly easily. I have learnt the basic teacher phrases too. I have figured out what I say the most and learnt that.


Hondurans are lovely and are always trying to help me with my Spanish.
We are going to Guatemala for Semana Santa (Easter) with some of the teachers from the other Abundant life Schools and PT volunteers.

I have done lots more but I think I will leave it there for everyone’s sanity!

Warm regards
Jodie


Hi, welcome to the February and March 2022 update!
Technology is not my friend at the moment. It’s laughable at this point how much has gone wrong in the last month regarding technology haha


I am still having a great time here! Everyday feels like a life changing day. I am constantly learning and seeing new perspectives that affect how I view life.


I have visited 2 other places so far: La Union and Gracias.
La Union was great, I met so many amazing people, ate a ridiculous amount of sweet treats, went to a rodeo, and gave a tour of all the baby animals (so many puppies)! Their coffee is amazing too! A guy called Omar showed me how you prepare the coffee and he let me wash the beans.


I went to Gracias with the teachers from my school for a Christian teacher retreat. It was wayyy hotter than it is in Yamaranguila! The retreat was really nice. Afterwards, Honor, I, and the Gracias volunteers visited the hot springs, ate baleadas , and hiked up to the “Gracias” sign. It was a lovely long weekend away and I felt very refreshed upon my return.
I’ve learnt how to make lemonade! My morning routine includes going for a walk in the garden to pick any of the lemons that fell over night, ready to make lemonade at the weekend!


Each day I feel myself becoming a more confident teacher. I enjoy teaching a lot, even though my kids drive me insane sometimes. They are improving greatly which is so encouraging to see. I am getting the hang of planning my lessons and matching the lesson to my kids energy levels, rather than trying to get a bunch of 10 year old’s to match mine. I also know I’m doing okay because I got 2 stickers and an Oreo today so I’m really living it up!


I am continuing with my online TEFL course. It is taking me a while but I know it will be so beneficial in tutoring, my teaching, and in the future! I am enjoying it greatly.
I’ve recently been given the opportunity to tutor a girl who wants to go to medical school in the UK. I am helping her pass the IELTS exam, which has been going very well and is very much rewarding for both me and her.


I think Honor and I are nailing the budgeting side of living away. We save 1/3 of our allowance for travel and we live well on the 2/3’s we have left. Lots of fruit and veg! I am loving cooking, I find it meditative. There is loads more I’d love to learn to cook though, like baleada tortillas I would love to get more into baking though, we have a few birthday’s coming up and I would love to bake something for each of them.


Bible study is really beneficial for me. My friend described it as mindfulness with a sprinkling of Jesus. I am really enjoying learning more about Christianity, despite not believing in it. We have some really meaningful conversations and I have changed my perspective and actions towards certain things a lot.


Our Guatemala trip is pretty much fully booked, which is very exciting! Antigua and Lake Atitlan will be amazing, and the travel itself will be a great learning experience.
As much as I am enjoying my time here, I am looking forward to starting my university experience and I have booked my accommodation. I am looking forward to seeing what my life will be like in Manchester and all I will learn about psychology and myself! It stresses me out sometimes how little time I have here and how soon university is coming up, so I try not to think about it too much!


I am arriving home on the 16th August. I am unable to give a date when I am available for meetings and talks yet as I must attend debriefing in Scotland to help with reverse culture shock and stress, and I am unsure when this will be. I will let you know as soon as I have some dates that work for me.
Thanks for reading
Jodie

May 2022

Hi

I can’t remember much of what I wrote before but I am enjoying myself.

I went to a Caribbean island called Utila for Easter week. It was amazing! We went snorkeling, I got stung by a Jellyfish, and visited an iguana breeding centre. The ferry to the island was the worst. everyone was throwing up around me, it was the scariest boat ride I’ve had. The way back was beautiful, I sat outside and felt like I was in Mama Mia at the back of the boat.
After the island, we went to the Jungle where I got so many bites. We went on a waterfall hike and I had never been so sweaty. There were so many spiders and stunning butterflies.

I have been taking Spanish lessons which are going really well. I have decided that at the start of my travel time in June, I will go to language school in Antigua, Guatemala for 3 weeks. It will be great! After that, I will go to work on a farm. It is a programme that provides free food and accommodation, in return for work on the farm. I am excited.

I have met some really inspiring people in Honduras. Including an entrepreneur of a clothing business, and a 24 year old who has 3 foster children, and is looking to start a cafe/bakery so when the girls in the care homes/farms grow out of the system, they can be employed to ensure they remain safe and can continue their education.

Bible study is quite difficult at the moment. For any Christians reading this, we are currently working on Romans. For a non-christian (and even the christians), this is a hefty book with a lot of theology, it is very hard to keep up with. The place we go to has good baleadas and a new pancake shop has opened up so I will try those tonight.

It is currently the rainy season, meaning it is often cold and grey. Tropical storms happen every day and are really no joke!

Teaching is going well, and I am making my way through my TEFL course. I am still tutoring 1 girl in her English too.

It isn’t all sunshine and daisies, I assure you, but I am getting through it.

Hope you have enjoyed reading.

Jodie

It’s not all work

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