I’ve been blessed to travel the world since a small child, but nothing could have prepared me for the life changing trip to the orphanage with Work, Play, Love/Give Orphan’s Hope. Just arriving at the airport, being transported in the orphanage’s rough running van, climbing mountains I wasn’t sure we would make it up, instantly I knew I was in a very different place.
I was worried that not knowing a lick of Spanish would hinder me from having the fullest experience with the orphans, boy was I wrong. Entering the gates of the campus, sounds fancy but it wasn’t, I was greeted by countless children begging for my attention. Running up to me, not knowing who I was, where I was from, hugging my legs, smiling, jumping in excitement.
Love is the universal language of these kids, so it didn’t matter there was a language barrier. Being a single parent of two children, I was dumbfounded that the orphanage, while not new by any means, was very organized and cleaner than most teenager’s rooms. I was also shocked that during the school year the older children get up every morning before school, around 5 or 6 to clean the campus.
My heart was broken over and over tho, realizing simple daily pleasures in my life weren’t available to these kids. The kids shared toothbrushes (until we got them their own). There was no warm water to bathe with. Most the children had rotten teeth. All the school aged children walked miles to and from school through terrain and areas I wouldn’t dream of walking thru willingly in my own country. All the possessions of a child fit in a locker, but most weren’t filled up even halfway.
- I shared many precious moments with the orphans…
- Listening and singing to American music, the kids new all the words to.
Dancing, doing yoga at any point during the day.
- Playing with the church group that brought games and food for the kids to enjoy.
- Taking walks in the village and seeing these orphans giving back to those even less fortunate than they.
One of my favorite memories on my trip, was taking several of the children to the city for a shopping excursion. With just a couple hundred dollars we were able to let the kids pick out their new wardrobe, complete with shoes, socks, pants, shirts, sunglasses, hats and more. They were more than thankful and honestly taken back, because they had never been able to get new stuff they could call their own.
Before our shopping trip was over, we took the kids out to eat. The kids hadn’t ever ordered from a menu, one child ordered an entire roasted chicken. We realized that one child who was with us, it was his birthday, he’d never had a birthday cake, much less a birthday party. So of course we ordered desert, sang to him, and I fed this grown child his first bite of birthday cake. It was a moment I will remember forever.
My trip was mixed with feeling pain for the impoverished children, but thankful and my heart warmed, knowing that this non profit is making such a big impact to improve their quality of life one donation, one trip and one child at a time.