Friday, December 12, 2014

An Interesting Story

I know - you don't get updates from me for a month and now I've got 2 in one day. It's feast or famine with me!  I'm a bulimic blogger :)  (And yes, I am a therapist that just made an eating disorder joke.  I don't think 2 years working with Hospice nurses did much to curb my morbid humor).

But, I realized tonight that I have a much more interesting story to share than what I posted before.  And that last blog is probably something a lot more significant for me than for you anyways.  So, let the storytelling begin!

This morning I was told an interesting story.  For it to be understood properly, I'm going to share some back stories, but I think your patience will be worth it.

At a breakfast with friends this morning, my friend Alejandra (my translator I've mentioned before), was sharing about how the Director of the House of Hope (the women's shelter I volunteer at) ended up starting this home.  She began with how she ended up in El Salvador wanting to see how to help.  She literally was told about the country from a friend, bought a plane ticket, found a hotel, and just came to explore what it is like here.  This is not normal here.  This is not a touristy country and it makes her story all the more impressive.

She ended up finding some people that needed help, and while searching for more opportunities she was also connecting with others that were helping in orphanages - which brought her to meet a mutual acquaintance of Alejandra. A mutual friend came to Alejandra and said, "I think I found a way to provide funding for your project!"  Alejandra was introduced to the now director, a partnership was created and after a bit of a process, The House of Hope was born.  

I met Alejandra the day after her first visit to meet the young woman that filled the home.  Her description and enthusiasm for the home led me to share that I'm a therapist just moving to El Salvador to volunteer where needed and she set up with the director for a chance for me to start working with the girls about a month after the home was started.

Alejandra's story-
About 10 years ago, Alejandra was wanting to start an orphanage.  A lot of things came together but there was always a shortage of funding.  But they had found the property, permits, government approvals.  All the plans were set up and they even had potential workers.  One of the people  Alejandra worked with to organize this home was Rosemarie Rivas.  Rosemarie is the mom of the family that I used to stay with every year when I would visit.  They are my second family.  And Rosemarie began sharing with me the dreams of this home.  And I started dreaming about how I would like to live in El Salvador and be a part of this.  I didn't have much to qualify me as a great asset to help - but there's never a shortage of need and I was sure I could be of some use!  But, it never worked out for me.  Every time I considered (or attempted) to find a way to move here, something came up to prevent me.  

When I heard that all the plans with the home fell apart, I was saddened, but still hoped that someday this home could exist that was designed to emulate a family rather than an institution to help the kids grow up in a real home.

Imagine my shock today when I discovered that the home I dreamed about helping build 10 years ago is the same one I've been working at for a year!  Such a gift.  It has been a joy to work in this home all year - but now it seems even more special.

Going Home for Christmas!

I'm excited to spend Christmas with my family in California this year!  I have so much to be grateful for this year. 

One thing I'm thrilled about is that on my last trip home there was a small problem with one of my planes and they gave me a $400 voucher for volunteering for the next flight.  It's lovely that a 3 hour delay was able to provide for me to take this extra trip home :)
I'm grateful for being surrounded by wonderful, caring people here in El Salvador.  I've been reminded of that as I've had car problems this month and I have had many people gladly helping me out.

I'm grateful that I get to meet a new girl that came to the women's shelter yesterday.

I'm grateful that there are people here who trust me enough to be a part of the amazing work being done at the orphanage and women's shelter.  I'm still learning spanish and the nuances of the culture and this is a whole new population in which to practice therapy.  And I've been handed a lot of responsibility and trust in order to be involved as I am.

I'm grateful that I am appreciated where I'm volunteering.  At the school, orphanage, women's shelter and individuals I'm counseling - I'm always being thanked and reminded of how much they appreciate my help.   It certainly helps me keep perspective on the tough days.

I'm grateful for my garden and that I haven't killed it!  I love that it includes plants I couldn't have in the states and helps me relax after tough days of therapy.

I'm grateful that when I email and call people in the states, they almost always make time for me.  I know that long distance is hard and time is valuable - and I really appreciate this!

I'm grateful that I have a supportive and understanding family even when I do crazy things like move to El Salvador.

I'm grateful for the family I live with in El Salvador, that they put up with my and my crazy Gringa ways :)

I'm grateful that I have so much to appreciate that I know this list is much shorter than what it should be.

And most of all, I'm grateful for a loving God who is in control of all and that (usually) prevents me from messing everything up!

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Cry for help

                I've been in El Salvador for a year now.  My savings can only keep me here for another 6 months, but I am sure the need for the work I'm doing here can last for a lifetime.  So, I'm writing with hopes that I can find people that want to join me and help support this work.

If you want to skip all the details of the work I'm doing here and jump straight to the ways to help, here you go:
                1) Financially - I need a minimum of $800 month to be able to survive long term here (there's a link to paypal at the top right for a tax deductable donation.  Or you can go to this link for an address and instructions:

                2) Join a team to come volunteer - email me tiffanymlewis@gmail    .com if interested in coming or help support someone else who is interested

                3) Pray - I need a lot of prayer to survive this craziness!!  So do the kids and families that I work with and the other people working with me

There have been a lot of amazing opportunities become available to me lately, and I am thrilled about them. As a therapist, I specialize in grief and trauma, and these are two themes that touch at least 90% of the population and the needs and opportunities to help seem endless! (See the previous blog of "The needs and problems plaguing El Salvador" for further details)
             My first several months here I added teaching ESL (English as a Second Language) at my church's elementary school to the therapy work I was doing.  It worked well, even though it was exhausting.  I was happy to help in a needed way while I was still establishing my work as a therapist and had extra time.  Now, I have been a little bit more protective of my time as the work has found me, and I have to be selective!  

                I've been working at a children's home part time.  There are 28 kids from 5-17 years old that have been placed there by the government.  They have been abandoned, neglected or physically abused and all have been sexually abused.  In a country where 7 out of 10 homes have physical violence, these cases are severe enough that the government has seen fit to step in and take action.  This home is unique in the country because it is the only one that works with the families of the children too.  It's been a great privilege to work with the families to help them heal and build healthy relationships.  Just this weekend, one of the mothers shared of the abuse she received growing up.  We were able to talk about how she can change how she treats her son and worked on simple ways she could make this happen, starting with saying kind words.  This is a new concept!

                I also spend several hours a week at a Transitional home for women.  A transitional home is set up to receive kids when they turn 18 and are removed from the government housing.  Their choices are typically to live on the street, join a gang or return to their abusive homes.  So there have been transitional homes created to help these young adults learn trades and survive without resorting to these options.  I will admit that these young women are the highlight of my week.  They are a therapist's dream client as they are all motivated to learn and grow and are working hard to heal from their traumas and live in a new ways.  It's an honor that they have allowed me to be part of this journey.

                I'm also spending a day a week at the school.  I help some with English, some with projects for the teachers and I have also started doing therapy with the children and their families.  In my spare time I have clients from my church and others that have been referred to me. 

                I'm working on a new project.  There is a clear lack in training for the caregivers in these children's and transition homes.  Starting this February, I'm partnering with my translator and several children's home to begin a training program for the caregivers.  I've seen people with great intentions and hearts for the kids unintentionally cause a lot of damage and hurt by continuing unhealthy patterns.  Sometimes it is because they have a similar background and are living with the same unhealthy patterns or they are accidently letting the kids pull them into the cycles.  My partner and translator who has dreamed of this, has great hopes.  She knows the need and has seen the change we have made on the one transition home we have worked in.  She believes that we can impact these caregivers and homes in such a way that the government will notice and implement our trainings nation wide.  She's dreaming big, and I am still concentrating on creating the materials for the first one!

                There are also plans for a therapist team to come out this summer.  I am hopeful to see the impact a group can make.  The plan is to utilize the team with the families of the children we work with, trainings for caregivers, and support for the medical teams that will be here.  And selfishly, I'm excited about gaining knowledge and insight from others in the profession who have expertise in different areas!

I know I've written a lot, but this is just a small glimpse into my work here.  I would love it if you could support me and be a part of this work too!

The needs and problems plaguing El Salvador

This year has been a huge learning curve for me!  In order to be more effective as a therapist, I've spent a lot of time learning about the history of El Salvador and the social problems plaguing the country.  And it is a lot.

When I first started working with the kids here, I noticed that they were not just dealing with their traumas, but that it appeared that they had learned behaviors from their families for how to survive.  Their parents, who grew up in the civil war (1979-1992),  and learned how to be adults and how to live during this time.  They taught their kids how to live as trauma survivors and have passed down these behaviors.  This has led me to reading all about the physical traits passed down genetically from trauma survivors which I have found quite illuminating in the struggles that these kids live under.

The war created a culture of suspicion.  There is no trust.  (This is also an attribute of trauma survivors). 

Lack of education, nutrition and growing up under abuse and trauma have changed brain development in the poor areas of the country.  This has left a lot of the population without the capacity to think about possible solutions and changes to their lives.  Helping and healing is slow because you have to teach and build the basic resources needed for this process.  And I have had to learn how to teach these skills at a basic level I did not even realize had to be taught.

People do not share that they have been raped because it is expected.  "Why would you complain, that happens to everyone?" is a normal response.

Here is information I've excerpted from a press release from Unicef last month:
"child malnutrition still affects more than 20% of children.

One of the biggest challenges that the new government should take is the right to comprehensive protection , which has been hit hard as a result of the culture of violence affecting children and adolescents in the country. A recent report by UNICEF at mundial1 El Salvador ranks ahead of countries with higher homicide rates against children and adolescents aged 0 to 19 in the world , with 27 deaths per 100,000 inhabitants, followed by Guatemala ( 22 ) and Venezuela ( 20 ) . homicide is also the leading cause of death among adolescent boys. Furthermore, estimated that 43 percent of sixth grade students have experienced some form of bullying (theft , insults, threats or physical aggression ) and that 16 percent have been physically assaulted in their schools.
Nearly 94 % of sexual assaults were committed against girls and adolescents and 7 out of 10 children and adolescents suffer from some form of violence at home.  Furthermore, in El Salvador , 33 percent of adolescents between 15 and 19 years report having experienced physical , sexual or emotional violence by their parents, And each hour three teenagers give birth .
In urban areas , 47 percent of teens enrolled in school, whereas in rural areas barely 27% . Some obstacles to
guarantee of this right are insecurity , gaps in infrastructure , low teaching quality , low consideration of the relevance of education and lack of family income."
UNICEF has done a lot in the country to attempt to help with child protection.  Unfortunately, some of  the implementation of their protections have backfired.  A few years ago, the laws regarding child protection were completely changed.  At the core, the message was that each child has a right to be with their families and that the best place for a child was with their natural family.
In theory that is awesome.  In practice, there are great discrepancies.  Children have been removed from institutions and placed back with their abusive families.  There are examples of babies being thrown in the trash by a mother and then given back to the same mother 3 months later, and the baby dies.  I've seen the damage of this with kids I work with.  One child has been court ordered to visit her home every other weekend (with the goal that she will move back when her mom is more stable to take her).  This child spends the weeks in fear of the abuse she will receive on the weekends.  And also hates the orphanage that keeps her safe because she does not understand they do not have a choice in her not visiting her abusive home.  It is heartbreaking.

But where there is great need, there are great opportunities to help!

Friday, September 12, 2014

I got my visa!

Exciting news!  I received my visa this week.  And. . .almost as exciting, we have internet in my house again!  Ok, not quite equal footing, but both are lovely.  (kind of makes me think of the facebook post I saw last week about analogies that actual high schoolers have used, including this one: "The revelation that his marriage of 30 years had disintegrated because of his wife's infidelity came as a rude shock, like a surcharge at a formerly surcharge-free ATM."

After 10 months of gathering documents and going through a bit of a torturous process, I got a 1 year residency visa. Thanks to all who I asked for favors and helped me out in this!!!

Establishing that I have permission to stay here longer is helpful in planning for the future in my therapy work.  It not only helps in the orphanage, womens shelter and school, but also a new project i'm starting that will be a training conference for care-givers for other childrens homes.  I'm a bit overwhelmed with how to settle my ideas now that they are free to roam!!!

Sunday, August 31, 2014

a true gift

This month has been an interesting one.  I've faced a lot (and I mean a LOT) of new challenges this month.  But I've also been a part of some amazing changes too.

Yesterday, I was at the women's shelter, and I am constantly in awe of how these young women are changing and growing.  It has been an honor to be able to walk beside them as they grow and heal.  They are facing their fears (which I can't share any because, besides breaking confidentiality, some of those are real and pose real threats to their safety) with a bravery that I've rarely seen.  These women are not the same women I met a year ago.  They have been fighting to no longer be held hostage to their fears and abuse, and it is amazing to see.

I am so blessed that they have allowed me an honest glimpse of their journey.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

The gecko incident

This is too good not to share!!!  I've been giggling over the memory for the the past 3 days.  I only wish I had the great story telling abilities that Kramer, Newman and Seinfeld had as they shared about the Magic Loogi.

So we're all watching TV, and a gecko is on the ceiling chasing after a moth.  This was unusual because 1) normally the geckos stay within 6 inches of the windows to capture food or run from another gecko it's fighting with 2) They tend to stay on the walls instead of the ceiling - i might see one on the ceiling once every other month but still near the walls and near corners 3) normally they eat small bugs like gnats and mosquitos (yay!!!)

To set the scene:  There are 4 of us, me, Roxana, Michele & Freddy.  Michele and Fredy are on the couch, and Roxana is in a chair to the left of the couch and I am in a chair to  the right of the couch.  The gecko is spotted on the ceiling first in the middle of the room near the light but really runs about on the whole ceiling.  We spent a couple minutes watching this adventure.  At some point Michele asked if it would fall and Roxana said that geckos can't fall.

Then the moth landed on the ceiling beam above Michele's seat.  The gecko slowly made it's way over and Fredy returned to watching TV but the rest of us girls watched intently.  I couldn't wait to see if this little gecko would really eat this moth!  After it got about 2 inches away, it made it's move and ate it instantly!  I was so excited!  And then about 2 seconds later it fell!!!!

I see it flying over Michele and from my angle I can't see where it hit her, but I assume her arm because next Michele is yelling and flings her arm to the left towards Fredy.  Then Fredy starts yelling and she's checking his head.  I assume the gecko has been flung on his head but then he starts swatting at his stomach and I am searching to find where this gecko has ended up!!!!

Turns out, the gecko never hit Michele.  It hit the floor just to the right of the couch.  We couldn't find it and I checked for blood so I assumed it was ok since it disappeared so quickly and there was no blood on the floor. But it fell 8 feet!!! Michele yelled in fright and Fredy yelled because Michele's hot tea was spilt all on his stomach.  I think he might still be angry about this.  But the rest of us are still laughing!!!

About 30 minutes later the gecko made a return appearance on the ceiling and I was relieved to know that all is well :)

Watching geckos is my favorite!

Sunday, May 25, 2014

overdue update

Hello, my long lost friends!

So, I've offically hit the 2 month gap for updating here.

April was both great and terrible.  I spent a lot of the month not feeling well.  My back was quite angry at me for the months of chiropractic neglect (especially after a 20 hour bus ride to costa rica each way).  I got desperate and took a chance on a chiropractor here (something that terrified me), but he's actually pretty great.  He studied in the states, which helped me get over my fear of finding a chiropractor here.  And I also got a terrible cold that kept me in bed for a few days.

We had semana santa in April and so it was a week of vacation and I went on a trip to the eastern part of the country for a couple days.  I went with the families of 2 of the teachers from the school where I teach english.  It was wonderful and relaxing (and then I spent the rest of my vacation week in bed sick).

And I after I recovered from being sick, I ended up with crisis after crisis at the orphanage and women's shelter.  And with only a month left of school, the kids have been crazy too.  I've done more disciplining than teaching several days this month!  That's made May crazy too.  It settled down a bit last week and this week has been calm so far (busy, but calm).  I've also had some exciting progress going on to.  The most exciting and significant is that I've been a part of creating a new therapy program at the orphanage.  There's been some processes adapted that have made the program less effective than it could be, so everyone was frustrated and wanting change - but not telling anyone they thought so.  As a newcomer learning about the program, I had the same frustrations and when asking everyone how they thought the program was, discovered every single person didn't like how it was set up, but all thought everyone else needed it that way.  So. . .we're changing that now!  We've developed a new program and have started implimenting it.  And though I know everyone wants change - it doesn't mean it's easy.  So, my next project there is to work on making the implementation go smoothly.  Easy, right?

That's my update.  I've been exhausted - both good and bad.  And I'm not quite ready to realize I only have 6 weeks left here.

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Picture Day!

I started taking pictures around the city just to give an idea of what it looks like around where i live.  But first, here's a picture of the pineapple tree i bought today!!!  (only $5)
I live near the San Salvador volcano.  It's perfect to use for directions to know if i'm driving in the right direction and going towards or away from my house!  The first picture is about 3 blocks from my house
I took several pics from my car driving through the city.  My windows are tinted, so some will look hazier than others

and last week i had a day off and wasnt far from this beautiful place.  It's the dry season, but you can imagine how beautiful it looks when everything is green.  This is about an hour from where i live.  it's called la Puerta del Diable (the devil's gate)  It's named from a legend about an evil man who escaped into these mountains

Saturday, March 1, 2014

Costa Rica

Well, I've had a busy couple of weeks.
A couple of weeks ago I had a busy week trying to prepare everything before going to Costa Rica and also trying to do some fun legal stuff for living here for the year.  In addition, the director from the women's shelter I volunteer at was here with a group for the week.  A lot of great experiences, but I started my week into going to Costa Rica tired.

My permission to stay in El Salvador is as a tourist for 90 days.  So, every 90 days I have to leave the country in order to re-enter and get another 90 days.  Unfortunately this is complicated because there is an agreement between the countries surrounding El Salvador.  Guatemala, Honduras & Nicoragua have an agreement that a tourist visa for one of the 4 countries is good for all of them.  So I can use my tourist visa to go to Guatemala without having to pay for a new visa and without having to pay again upon returning.  I love this.  But unfortuntaley, if I want to renew my 90 days, i have to travel far to leave all 4 countries to return for a new 90 day visit.  So, I took an 18 hour bus ride to Costa Rica.  It leaves at 3 am and arrives at 10pm give or take an hour.

We arrived in San Jose, the capital of Costa Rica and stayed with a family there (they work with the church here in El Salvador and I have met them a couple times over the past several years).  We spent a day enjoying the city, the downtown market, and then the following day took a 4 hour bus ride to La Fortuna.  La Fortuna is a tourist town that is built on the side of the volcano Arenal.  Arenal is the 2nd most active volcano in the world.  On a clear night, you can see the lava flowing from the volcano and it sounds like thunder.  Here's a picture of our hostel next to the volcano (the volcano is covered by a lot of clouds, but it directly straight from the road) and the volcano from the hike we took:

And after the hike we enjoyed the hot springs that are the best benefit ever from being near an active volcano!  We tried to capture the picture of the waterfall behind us. . .but there wasn't quite enough light to get a good picture

We enjoyed the cute little tourist town

Then we enjoyed another day in San Jose before heading back (on another long bus ride).  Costa Rica is known for its protection and value of it's land.  I loved that in Downtown San Jose, even the paintings on the wall showed this value as the elephants recycle :)
I had a great trip, but I was glad to be back in my bed after a long bus ride (which the man behind me kept kicking my seat so i couldn't sleep) and my chair was broken, and i was in a terrible position to see the TV for the movies playing.  Those factors certainly make 18 hours feel a lot longer!!  But after a shower and a good nights sleep, i'm feeling much better.  

Well, time to get ready and head out to the women's shelter!

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Life, Liberty and the Happiness of Pursuit

I had a prof at my university that would change our country's slogan to, "Life, Liberty and the Happiness of Pursuit."

I've been thinking about this lately because I went to a home visit last week (the one I mentioned in San Miguel), and the family lived in a hut.  It was literally made of sticks and straw.  Like something you'd see people build on Survivor.  The house was a good size, probably 40x40 ft and there was a wall to separate the beds and give a little privacy to change.  There were 4 plastic chairs (the kind we typically see outdoors that can be stacked)  All were broken.  And they were repaired in impressive ways.  One, the plastic was ripping at the top, and they laced a shoelace through it (creating holes at the top where there weren't natural holes in the chair design) to hold it together.  The remaining three had a couple legs missing from each, and had tree branches carved and designed to work as the legs.  It was impressive carpentry without many tools.  There was no bathroom or shower, but there was running water outside to fill the pila (kind of a concrete cistern used to hold water to be used throughout the day, and usually has one side where people wash clothes by hand).  It was on a pretty piece of land with beautiful trees and a great view of the volcano nearby (which erupted again last week).  There was garbage scattered throughout the area surrounding where they spent most of hte time near the house.

And I found myself thinking about if I lived there, what kind of improvements would I make to the home?  Some ideas came easy, others, I wasn't sure about the next steps I would take if I lived there with limited resources.  I found out that the man's grandparents had lived there and had built a concrete cistern and was surprised that with the decades it had been made, little had been done.

I tried to determine how much of my ideas and thoughts were from my spoiled American mindset.  And I ultimately found myself stuck on the idea of contentment vs laziness.    Because, if this family has enough to survive in a healthy manner, why shouldn't they be content?  But if they have the talent to improve their situation, are they just being lazy by continuing in their meager home?

And I don't know.  I'm still pondering it.  But whether or not this particular family is lazy or content, I know that contentment is something my own culture does not make room for.  This brings me back to the Life, Liberty and the Happiness of Pursuit.  Because we are taught to strive for more.  Never do we have enough.  And while I never want to be lazy, I do want to be able to enjoy what I have and be content.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

finally an update!

I've been thinking I'd post when I had my pictures from a couple trips I went on, but apparently that's not happening, so I might as well post without them.  Yes, I realize it's a brilliant idea to disappoint my multitude of readers at the start :)

 But at least I've lowered your expectations for the rest of this post and so now I'll sound much more impressive!

Lets see, I've been pretty busy.  A couple of weeks ago I forgot my allergy meds (because the air pollution here is bad) for a couple of days. It just so happened that those days were incredibly windy and I spent several hours in a windy area with tons of dirt flying about.  So began my congestion.  Then I went on several road trips.  So, after two weeks, im just starting to feel back to normal.  The last week its been clearing out and has effected my throat and voice.  This last week I've discovered that it really is not fun to teach when you don't have a voice.  Don't think it's helped with my healing process either.  and getting less sleep because i'm congested has made my spanish worse.

So, besides being patheticly sick the last couple of weeks, I've been up to some fun stuff.  I've gotten to meet some of the families of the kids at the orphanage.  They have a family day every couple of weeks and it's interesting to participate and see the interactions.  (I guess it would be good to clarify that most of the children in the orphanage have families they see regularly.  Some of the kids were abandoned, but most were removed from their homes because of abuse.)

Last week I went to San Miguel to visit a family.  San Miguel's city slogan says, "When the Devil gets too hot in San Miguel, he goes back to hell."  I think it was only in the 90s when we went.  I've been once before years ago and it was 116 and over 90% humidity.  Not my favorite weather.  Also, it was interesting because we went near the volcano which erupted a month ago.  This is what I was hoping to get pictures of for you, but i took the pics with the camera from the orphanage and havent gotten copies yet.
So. . .the family visit -  A very interesting event because we saw the mom of some of the children. She had disappeared after her kids were removed from her home and this is the first anyone in her family had heard from her in 10 years. It was very interesting to be apart of the reunion, both very exciting and very hard.

Therapy at the women's shelter has been great.  I've built enough trust that the women are willing to begin working on their trauma, and it's so rewarding to watch them heal each week.

And I took a vacation this weekend!  I went to Guatemala.  I was invited because my Salvadoranean family that lives in Guatemala City was going to Panajachel, which happens to be one of my favorite towns.  It's a little hippie town that sits on the edge of a lake surrounded by volcanoes and mountains.  People from all over the world visit and live there and it's just a nice relaxing place to be.  I have a hard time not buying everything while I'm there.  And I normally hate shopping.  If you've ever seen me wearing clothes from Guatemala - they're from Panajachel. Here's a picture of the waterfall when we were leaving:
So, that's about it.  Still staying busy teaching english and therapy at the orphanage and women's shelter.  I've been working on fun stuff for my Visa to stay here for the year and trying to get together everything to do my taxes.  You know - the fun stuff.  It's making me extra excited for when I have to leave the country in a couple weeks to renew my visa.  I'm gonna spend a week in Costa Rica.  I just can't decide if I want to go to the town with the beautiful beach, or the one with the lake and volcano and all the hot springs.

 hmmm. . .life is always full of such difficult choices.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Meet Dandy!

This is Dandy!

My favorite decapitated dog!  We have a regular pupusaria (restaurant for the national food) we go to every weekend.  I love it, not only because they have tasty pupusas, but because of these signs they have up.  I've interpreted them to mean that you are not allowed to bring decapitated dogs to their restaurant.  I try to hold back on making a joke about it every week.  . .but i don't always succeed.
Recently, I decided my friend needed a name.  Clearly.  And after a couple minutes of deep pondering, I remembered a someone had asked me for the translation of 'dandelion' a few days prior.  I liked the alliteration, and then it hit me - dandelions lose their 'heads'.  Oh, it gives me such joy!

So i thought i'd share a bit of that joy with you - Dandy, the decapitated dog :)

Monday, January 13, 2014

Sad entry

So, I've actually had a lot of positive experiences in my counseling here the last couple of weeks.  But today, you're receiving a bit more of the heartbreak.

Today is the 2nd time in two weeks that I've advised a director for the organizations i'm volunteering at that it would be best if one of their young adults left.  Today it meant that a young woman and her 2 yr old son will be leaving to live in an unsafe home.  Life would be so much easier if we could force people to be logical and make wise choices!

Besides these issues, i've been saddened by the challenges within the society.  There is a new law (within the last 2 or 3 years) which theoretically sounds awesome, but in practicality is horrifying.  The law is designed to protect the rights of children and prioritize the family.  Every child should have the right to be with their family and the family is the best place for a child.  Sounds great - who wants to force kids to live in an institution when they've got a family?

Unfortunately, this means that those kids that were removed from abusive homes, are being put back in them.  In some instances there have been mom's who have literally thrown their infants in the garbage and receive those babies back 3 months later - for them only to die.  In the orphanage, it means some of the kids are court ordered to go home every other weekend.  They spend their weeks in fear of the abuse they will receive that weekend.  How do you treat trauma when you have to send a child back into it all the time?

The amount of trauma makes the successes much more rewarding - but for today, today I will be sad.