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YPN Member Leads LatAm NGO Efforts in New Zealand

Loren with Merary

LANZBC YPN member Loren O'Sullivan is the Director of Nuestros Pequeños Hermanos (NPH) in New Zealand.

NPH is a non-government organisation working in 9 countries across Latin America and the Caribbean. Below, Loren shares her experience and professional development as a New Zealander in Latin America.

When I finished my university degree to be a language teacher, I decided that I wanted to volunteer for at least a year in Latin America. I stumbled across a great organization called NPH (Nuestros Pequeños Hermanos). NPH works in 9 countries across Latin America and the Caribbean, supporting vulnerable children and families through education, nutrition and medical care.

 

I applied for a position as an English teacher and was accepted to NPH Honduras. Before arriving in Honduras, I knew little about the country and culture, but I was excited to be doing something that I was so passionate about. I was joined by a great bunch of international volunteers, mainly from Europe and the United States, and my nickname soon became ‘Kiwi’.  

The NPH Ranch where I was based, is a beautiful property, 40 minutes from the capital Tegucigalpa. Living on the Ranch felt like living in a gorgeous little village, waking up to the sound of children playing, the smell of freshly baked bread and cows walking past my window. On the Ranch there are a number of children’s homes, a volunteer house, a clinic, a primary and middle school. There is even a dentist and surgery centre on-site. While NPH serves children who can’t live with their families, they also help children and families in neighbouring communities.     

My role as an English teacher was very challenging. In retrospect I should have gone to language school in Honduras before starting my volunteer year. Trying to set down class rules and boundaries with my limited Spanish was very difficult. However, after a few months I gained more confidence with Spanish, and began to understand the unique culture of el Rancho Santa Fe. My lessons started to improve and slowly I started to fall in love with the big family that is Nuestros Pequeños Hermanos. 

There are such a wide range of volunteer roles with NPH – physios, tutors, nurses, therapists, communications officers, visitor coordinators, and even more. The volunteer became my good friends, and on the weekends, we would explore the Ranch, going for hikes to the local dam, or heading into the city to get some takeaways.  

Each volunteer had a day job and an hogar (home). I chose the baby home because I wanted something very different from my day job. The babies were such a delight to work with. In the evenings I would help the caregivers to get the toddlers fed, bathed and put to bed. Before heading back to the volunteer house I would wash the dishes.  

I enjoyed my time volunteering at NPH Honduras so much that I decided to extend for another year. The hardest thing about being a volunteer is coming home. It was a huge culture shock coming abck to New Zealand. I missed the kids so much.  

After teaching Spanish for a year, I decided that I wanted to do more to help the NPH kids. I am now the Director of NPH New Zealand, raising funds and awareness for the NPH children. While the pandemic has put a hold on our international volunteer programme, we are now accepting volunteers for our January 2022 intake. We also have a second intake in July each year. If you’re interested in finding out more, visit www.nph-nz.org/volunteers.

If you’re interested in this opportunity, I’d love to talk with you about it. I’m so thrilled that we’ll be sending a wonderful Kiwi and Aussie to Latin America to volunteer with NPH next year.

Volunteering with NPH changed my life in the best way possible. I can never repay the people of Honduras for all they taught me. They gave me much more than I ever gave to them.  

To find out more about NPH in New Zealand or abroad, get in touch with Loren at loren.osullivan@nph.org.

This entry was posted on 8 Oct 2021

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