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Stacy Edwards - General Care Projects in Mexico

'If Projects Abroad said to me 'Describe your time in Mexico in four words.they would be 'Time of my LIFE!'

I have so many fantastic memories and I could tell people about them all day, everyday. From 'La Mutualista' where the volunteers met for salsa, to 'Libelula' for the free cookies (!!) and my time travelling around other parts of Mexico, all of it was absolutely amazing.

Me and Julian

From the moment I'd booked my place, I knew I'd made the right choice. Jerylee, the Mexico Desk Officer made me feel comfortable with how things work in Mexico and answered all of my queries straight away. The staff were all really friendly and approachable, and they were supportive through the hard times! Unfortunately, during my time abroad, I suffered with stomach infections, but I was properly looked after and was visited in the hospital frequently by my friends and staff.

My host family were so cool!! On quite a few occasions, my room-mate and I were invited out to clubs or parties that the family had arranged. We were made to feel completely at home and Lety, our host mum, was definitely the best cook in Mexico!! They're like my second family now.

Me and the boys at the orphanage

Mexico itself was a culture shock for me, but a good one. Everyone is so friendly and welcoming, I got the odd look, but it was a look out of interest - why was I there? The cultural traditions were a pleasure to watch and participate in.salsa, tequila drinking (of course!), religion and fiestas until the early hours of the morning! It wasn't uncommon for the guys to be flirtatious, but it was all in good spirit.

For my placement, I worked at the Casa Juan Diaz orphanage and the University of Guadalajara - Cucea campus. In the three months I was working, I met the most inspirational people and had the most fun I've ever had.

Me and some of the kids

At the University, I taught English for a few weeks and also ran a conversation club so the students could practice their English. We had varied topics to discuss from Mexican politics to what we're afraid of and funny topics such as most embarrassing moments.those clubs usually ended up with the whole group in hysterical uproar! I learnt a lot about Mexican views and culture and also made some fantastic friends for life.

Although my overall experience was brilliant, I think a huge part of my love for Mexico comes from the boys I worked with at the Casa Juan Diaz orphanage. I love them with all of my heart and miss seeing their little smiling faces everyday.

Every afternoon, I'd arrive and all the boys would turn around and wave excitedly shouting 'Hola Stacy'. I'd get the occasional kid who would run and jump on me to give me a kiss and cuddle. It all made the experience totally worthwhile.

My friends at Guadalajara University

There are so many times I could reminisce about. The most vivid memories I've got from the kids are their excitement over the simplest of things. As soon as I took out my camera, they all pulled their best pose and shouted 'yo yo', my sunglasses or 'lentes' went down well with the boys and their posing sessions and they took great pleasure in listening to Daddy Yankee on my Discman. We had lots of fun playing games such as volleyball, frisbee, football or basketball, and the boys found my attempts at looking good at them hilarious!

Not all times at the orphanage were happy. Hearing the kids' stories, why they were there was upsetting, but it made me love them even more and want to bring happiness to their lives. The boys are amazing. I realised it really doesn't take a lot to make them feel wanted, just a kiss and cuddle everyday and showing that you love them. It brought a smile to my face seeing them take every moment as it comes and appreciate what they do have in life.

I'll never forget 'my boys'. I think of them all as my own because of the impact they had on me. I felt so special when I was with them. Unreal experiences like being asked to bless one of them before he went to bed, sitting with them during mass and being given bracelets from a few of the boys (which I haven't taken off!) are cherished.

Bettzy and Martha who I worked with at the orphanage are two of the most inspirational women I have ever met. The lengths they go to for the boys are admirable. They are currently setting up their own foster home and I'm sure it will be so much fun for the kids.

Rhoda, Betsy, Marta, Aubrey and me the orphanage girls

On my last weekend in Mexico, we took 11 of the orphans to the Turtle Camp. It was incredible. It was great seeing their faces light up when they saw the turtles and realised we were by the sea, within an hour, they were all soaked and covered in sand, but it was all worth it. I had to leave a day early to catch my flight home, and it was the hardest thing saying goodbye to my friends and my little guys. They all gathered together and began singing 'Ti Quiero Stacy Ti Quiero', my eyes filled up and as I walked away, I realised 'I've made a difference to their lives'. It was an indescribable feeling.

The experiences and friendships I have made are so special to me. Mexico was truly life changing and I'll never forget it. I'd recommend it to anyone!'

Stacy Edwards

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