One of the great things about working with a non-profit organization is you can actually see the impact you have on the people you serve. Although I spend most of the time in the office I was able to visit Hospital Niño Jesus and volunteer with our ‘Aladinos’,who are children with cancer the Fundación Aladina supports. One of my coworkers let me go with her on her weekly visit to the hospital, just to spend time with the patients. I also visited the hospital midway through my time in Spain, this was a perfect way for me to see what the organization actually does and how what I work on daily would help the children.
When I arrived at the hospital, I was given a tour and able to see the wing of the hospital. There was a room full of toys, board games, and a TV for the students to be able to play with. At the end of the hall, there was a relaxation room for the parents of the patients. It had comfy chairs, TV’s, and its own bathroom. When I ask why it was created, it was for the parents to take a break from all the emotions that can come with a child in the hospital for so long. Also, each child’s room was designed for the patient to have the most comfortable experience while they are battling their cancer. It was also very colorful and the children’s artwork was on the walls in the halls and in each of their rooms.
While I was there we played charades, in Spanish. This was both fun and difficult for me because I had to really think about my vocabulary and make sure I even knew what they wrote down. One word I had to describes was ‘guitar’ and that was hard because I knew barely any vocabulary about music. One of the kids offered to help me! I would whisper the word describing a guitar in English to him and then he would whisper is back in Spanish. What made it more interesting was that the kids were speaking to me in English, but I was speaking with them in Spanish. This helped me with my Spanish and also helped to improve their English. When I would respond in English they would all say “OOOO NO ENGLISH” and then make me say it again in Spanish. The kids were having a blast and I could see my volunteering was good for the family too. The parents were able to relax, take a break, or have fun with the kids while the volunteers were there. I was able to see that what Fundación Aladina does, really impacts the families lives with both the volunteering and the facilities they provide.
Also, since my visit was midway through my summer, it helped me to see why they had me doing the work I did. It reminded me of why I was there for the summer too. The work I was doing could bring in more funds for the organization, which meant the more children they were able to impact. My volunteering gave the kids a break from the doctors and let them be kids again for a little while. I started feeling a little homesick around this time because the “thrill” of living in a new place was wearing off and I was in a routine every day. The visit let me see that my work had purpose and even helped me create new ideas for my summer marketing project at the organization. I also started visiting new parts of Madrid I had not seen to remind myself that I was in Spain. This helped with my homesickness because it reminded me I would not be here forever and to enjoy every moment I had!