Apr 26, 2011

Reflections on Day One

Wow. There are not a whole lot of words for what I experienced today. What an amazing place this is; it is visually stunning.Your senses are overwhelmed by the majestic beauty of it all. I woke up this morning to the chirping of birds and the babble of water outside my window. I sat on the patio, alone, as the world woke up around me. The streets began to come alive with cars going to and fro...a dog barked...a cat stretched lazily and curled up in a pool of light from the breaking dawn. I was inhaling peace with every breath.

Eventually, the casita owner and the rest of the students woke up – we were served breakfast (so good!) and given an overview of our day. We were to be given a presentation at 10am, and then out to the orphanage by noon. It didn’t seem like too much, and I now understand why.

The morning’s presentation was given by Dianne Hart of Feed the Hungry – this place does SO much more than simply feeding the hungry. They have invested into the schools by building kitchens so that the students can have meals. Then, they needed to hire cooks to make those meals, and they 2 women from each municipality to hold the positions. On top of feeding the hungry, they also educate parents and communities about healthy eating, preventing malnutrition and teaching them how to grow community gardens so that they can plant and grow their own fresh vegetables.

They’ve also expanded and have started a scholarship program where they pay for the children to continue their education. In places where most children didn’t go to school past grade 6, they now have them in grade 10. The students have goals and ambitions now (architects, dentists, nurses, chefs) and they have hope. Hope is the most promising thing.

Her presentation was moving and stirred my soul. Please consider donating to their cause (you can choose if you’d like your money to go towards the educational or the nutritional aspects).

We had a bit of a break and then when right to Casa Hagar Santa Julia – oh my gosh...this place literally moved me to tears. The Madres have taken in these girls, most of whom are not orphaned, but abandoned. Some are removed from their homes due to violence (physical or sexual)....their stories are just horrifying. However, the Madres don’t want you to focus on the girls’ past; instead they want us to look towards the future – what can these girls be? Why were they chosen to be here? How can we help them to become strong, proud women?

We got a simple tour of the centre – it’s beautiful. The girls are learning self-sustaining life techniques such as cooking, sewing, jewellery making and more. They are all quite self sufficient and polite. I was amazed at how “together” they are. The older ones looking out for the younger, the younger ones polite and well-behaved. They were thrilled that we were there (they are so starving for motherly attention) and it was just an amazing thing to sit back and watch. They served us lunch (delicious) I ate a roasted chilli pepper (not the best idea!) and then we had a birthday “party” for the Madres (4 birthdays within a month!) – it was fun, it was heart warming, and it was so memorable.

When we left, Robin (a volunteer there who is essentially the translator for us all) told us, “You are all in our hearts, you are a part of our family.”

I sobbed. I tear up just recalling this now.

Today was a day that I will not forget any time soon.


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