GVI Healthcare project in Playa del Carmen, MX
Having heard about GVI through a friend back in the UK, I decided to sign up for a month. I chose to work on one of the GVI programs in a Special Needs School called `Centro de Atención Integral` (escuelita) in Playa del Carmen, Mexico. Having had experience working with children both in Main Stream and Special Needs Schools, I wanted to see the difference between schools in the UK and Mexico as well as gaining knowledge that I could take back home and use in my work and pass on to my colleagues. I’ve also always had a great fondness for the Latin American culture so being able to further explore the area was a big plus.
Escuelita includes children with both physical and mental disabilities. A daily routine at the school changes every day, so I got the chance to assist with Physical and Sensory Therapies most mornings and in the afternoons Dog, Music and Art Ther
apies as well as spend time playing and dancing with the children; in the summer months they have Aqua and Horse Therapies as well.
Before I arrived, I was very unsure about what GVI would be expecting of me as well as being pushed into a house with a bunch of strangers and foreign environment. All of my uncertainties were soothed immediately after my arrival. I was warmly greeted by the friendly staff and my new GVI family. I found that the most challenging thing for me during this whole expedition was the language barrier but I was able to overcome that by having the Spanish Lessons in the afternoons which GVI so kindly provided.
Living in the volunteer house has been a fantastic experience. Being able to meet new friends from around the world and communicate with the locals, as well as enjoying proper home cooked Mexican food once a week has been amazing. We also go on GVI family outings such as salsa dancing or going out for a taco dinner. I was able to immerse myself in the Mexican way of life in such a way that I wouldn’t have wanted to live anywhere else while staying in Playa del Carmen.
With having weekends off, I managed to venture further afield and see a little bit more of Mexico’s outstanding inland cities and amazing coastlines. My first weekend here, I went to Cozumel Island with some of the other volunteers. While there we went on a boat tour and got to see some fabulous snorkeling spots. The next weekend, I went to Holbox Island which is known for its dolphins, flamingos, and of course their lobster pizzas. My last adventure was in the city of Merida followed by a tour around Chichen Itza. Merida was a beautiful, somewhat European looking town where we wandered around and admired the old-fashioned architecture. As you know, Chichen Itza is one of the Seven Wonders of the World with links back to the Mayans and Aztecs; it was an inspiring moment to be able to step back in time with my new friends.
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