My first stop at an Orphanage was in Miacatlan for a 3-day visit with over 450 children. Although I never really knew what to expect, to be honest from the time I moment I arrived I was a little stunned. Let me hold that thought for a moment. First of all, the orphanage (or more accurately known as the Home) is incredibly large. I arrived and saw a huge wall that literally covers an entire block, printed with “Nuestros Pequenos Hermanos”, (which is the name of the Orphanage- translated as ‘my little brothers and sisters’) across. I was greeted by a lovely lady named Andrea, the orphanage coordinator, and given a tour of the various buildings and farm. The kids seemed so curious about me at first, and a few even followed along and introduced themselves.
After meeting some of the children, I was informed that we needed to head towards the church in town because the regular Priest at the Orphanage was absent. Can you picture 450 kids all walking together into town to go to church? Including children as young as 3 years old.
Mass went off without a hitch and we were back to the Orphanage for dinner. I was amazed at how the Orphanage was able to serve food for 450 kids in just a matter of minutes. The dinner consisted of pounds of scrambled eggs served from large steel pots, as well as a side of bread. I will tell you- I certainly realized the incredible contrast between the ways these children were living and the way most of us get to live. For instance, at the Orphanage, there are 45 children to a room- consisting of bunk beds 3-bunks high. There are no doors on the bathrooms or showers. The meals served consist of very simple things such as spaghetti for breakfast or a stew for dinner (Most of the food is actually raised on site at the Orphanage farm). All of the children have a very small metal locker in which holds all of their belongings. Generally, each of them only have a few shirts as well as a single pair of regular shoes (and of course a designated outfit for church).
Throughout my stay at the Home, I was able to appreciate that the children, although having so little material items, were able to share with each other. For example, I saw 400 kids playing on the playground together amongst roughly 5 soccer balls, yet everybody was playing along fine together. Notice the photo of the 3 kids huddled around a little bit of string, trying to teach each other how to play cats and cradle. I cannot imagine most American kids that I know living without any electronics, no heating or air, and only eating the most simple of meals 3 times a day (All the while, almost never leaving home). I could go on and on with all of differences in the way we live. However, I’m in complete awe of how every child seems considerably happy, hardworking, fun, fit, and kind. I never saw once saw a child over the age of 5 cry the entire three days I was there. In fact, I witnessed an incredible amount of organization, as well as love and kindness. I was nearly brought to tears when I saw a 13 year old boy trip and fall while playing ball with another boy- yet he just waited on the ground and another young man came and graciously gave him his hand to help him up. No laughing, no jokes- just kind help. I could give you numerous examples of this gracious behavior, just in the short time I spent there.
For five hours, I watched the kids under 5 play in the dirt- laughing, helping, and talking together. Once they realized how fun I was, they crawled all over me like a jungle gym. We played games for hours with my hand as a “magical mechanical device”, or “hide and go seek” behind my back. When lunch time arrived, four of the kids took my fingers and guided me into the lunchroom. A 5 -year old asked me several questions to make sure that the simple meal served was okay for me. All of the kids lined up together before going into the dining room and waited for everybody to finish their meals. I don’t believe my words will ever describe how powerful NPH systems are in providing a beautiful, wonderful, and simple home for these kids. I believe most Americans would be confused by the lack of amenities, however all of us would have their hearts touched- seeing how much NPH is helping change these children’s lives. How many of us know what it’s like to be born in a country with as few resources as Mexico? Or how many of us know what it’s like not have your parents around, or anybody to take care of you?
My amazement was in the way this organization provides an opportunity for these children to build a life- and experience family connections, responsibility, community, education, and kindness. I am committed perhaps even more now than ever for myself and for my company to make a difference for these children. Will you join me in helping raise money for these children in any way you can? Although this organization never turns a child away, they are not actively looking for any more children to admit due to of lack of funds. I’ve heard a few friends say, “Oh, I’m low on money.” Could you imagine how much money someone would save if they just lived as simply as these kids for one month? I bet most of us would have a tough time doing it for one day. I’m asking for your pledge: Organize a group together, begin your own Fundraiser. Perhaps a walk-a-thon or a car wash, or maybe even a simple Poker Party like I had held I believe would make a huge difference in these children’s lives. Maybe you’d like to join me next time I come down to one of these orphanages and visit- the kids will welcome you with open arms and open hearts. I know the experience has changed my life forever.