As I got off the plane in Posadas, the heat hit me, it's so much hotter than Buenos Aires, it´s very humid, at times it can be 100% humidity, and about 30 degrees... wow... and it´s just coming into their autumn.
I was met at the airport by Marcelo from i-to-i, and met the other volunteers starting their projects at the same time, we were all on the same plane, although didn't know it... Jenny is from New Zealand and will be working with animals in a rehabilitation centre, Tim is from the US and will be coaching kids soccer. We are sharing a house together along with one other volunteer who has been here 6 weeks already, her name is Mitzu and she is working at an orphanage.
Marcelo is the project co-ordinator's husband, and he likes to party... More to come on that I expect... The guesthouse is in the same ground's as Veronica and Macelo´s house, and she comes in every night to cook us our dinner.
Mitzu´s parents were visiting from San Franciso and as she was planning to show them the orphanage, we all went along as well. Posadas is very different from Buenos Aires, it´s very green and leafy with wide avenues, it has a grid system which is useful for finding our way around. We caught a bus at the end of the road for 1.40 pesos- about 20 pence. The refuge is a dark cement building with an indoor and outdoor concrete yard. There is nothing on the walls and no toys for the children to play with. It was very depressing, there was water running through the back yard, which the children were using to wash clothes in.
Children from 4 months to 16 years live there, for a variety of reasons, some are orphans, but some are there because their parents can´t look after them. All the staff are volunteers, mainly locals, with a few i-to-i international volunteers as well.
It was heartbreaking seeing all these children who all wanted to be your friend. They all wanted to touch you or to be picked up, desperate for affection. I found it difficult at first as they looked so dirty and grubby, but their cheeky smiles won me over. We all took them to the park, about 15 of them for an hour, some came with no shoes on at all. It was exhausting.... They all wanted your attention, I soon learnt some basic spanish though... what was my name, where was I from etc...
I'm not sure if I could volunteer on that project as you need so much patience and energy, and I found it emotionally draining. The experience will linger with me for a long time. What an emotional first day.