The last day of work (August 5th) was incredibly hectic which on the bright side did not give me time to cry. I got there at my usual time (approximately 8:15 am), I said “buenos dias” to everyone and they all smiled and said hello or good morning back. I had finally gained the respect of everyone at the hospicio and yet I had to leave. I thanked Paty and Elena for giving me such a wonderful experience with some oven mits and spatulas. I then went directly to the babies. It was sad to hug and kiss them for the last time. They were all so cute and were all so happy to see me (unlike my first day of work). Unfortunately Ana Lucia had a fever, so instead of the usual smile I get where it looks like she is having trouble breathing because she is so enthused, she just gave me a regular smile. I helped clothe the babies and then had to finish with the inventory.
I had been working on that inventory for about 2 weeks and could not wait to be done. I finished counting and recording all of the items in both the little kid and the big kid rooms. The Excel document consisted of about 5 sheets and about 400 rows per sheet. I finally finished by typing in the last of the library books. I then had to explain to the ACIs (“moms”) and teachers how the inventory was organized and how they can put the date at the top of the next column and change the numbers depending on whether things are added or taken away so the head people can see where everything is going.
I then spent the rest of my time putting photos of all of the kids and some of the ACIs (“moms”) on the walls in everyone’s rooms and in the hallway. I had about 200 hundred photos and everyone was swarming me trying to look at all of the photos before I got a chance to put them up and then asking if they could keep the photos for themselves (the children and the ACIs). It was very difficult to get all of the photos up before the kids got back from school since the moms kept picking up the photos and moving them out of their piles and I had to convince them that it would be better if the kids got to see the photos of themselves everyday instead of them taking the photos home so only they got to see them.
The photos brought mixed results. Everyone loved them, but they all wanted more. They kept asking for more photos (for all of the photos I have ever taken of them), and for photos of other kids for them to keep. The moms tried to take all of the photos before I got to put them up despite the fact that I had photos for the moms already. The little kids (3-4 year olds) were so excited to see photos of themselves. I tried to put up photos of just the children but I ended up putting about 2 up where I was in the photos with a group of kids. Sergio did not realize that I had put the photos up and while I was in a different room putting up photos he grabbed my hand and brought me to his room to show me that I was on the wall. It was so cute! Then I went back to putting up the photos in another room and he came right back in, grabbed my hand and showed me I was on the hallway wall too. He was so ecstatic. They would grab their friends, point, and shout, “There you are!”
As I was completing the photos in the babies’ room (the final room), I was asked to come into the big kids’ study room. I was in such a hurry and I thought they needed me to fix some inventory problem, but when I arrived, all of the kids and moms were in there with the teachers and they all said, “Thank you Kara” (in English this time) and gave me a sign that said “Thank You Very Much Kara” with all of their hand prints on it. It was sooooo sweet! I was overwhelmed. And they all ran up and hugged me goodbye. It was more than I ever hoped for. It was the perfect goodbye! And the teachers, Wendy and Beatriz hugged me goodbye and gave me flowers and thanked me for everything. They apparently really appreciated all of my organizing and inventory-ing. They were so sweet! All of the “moms” and teachers and head people thanked me and blessed me and said such kind words. I was so overwhelmed I could not think of the words I wanted to say. It was the perfect goodbye!
And then when I was running out the door so I would not miss my ride they informed me that I had to go see Mari in the social work room. I thought I would have to spend about an hour answering questions and filling out an application like I had to the first day. I thought I was definitely going to miss my ride. I ran into the room and Mari handed me a certificate of completion and a Hospicio de San Jose t-shirt! I felt so honored and I was so happy to have a shirt to remember everyone by everyday.
I then rushed out the door to catch my ride. I did not have enought time to think or cry. I was so overwhelmed by how appreciated I was and how kind they all were.
I wear that t-shirt everynight to bed now.