Today’s guest post isn’t sharing a craft or a recipe, rather she is sharing a group of people that are very important to her- and could really use your help. The Hogar Orphanage is in desperate need of volunteers to travel to El Salvador and work with these amazing children and adults with disabilities. Please read a bit about this amazing place, and forward to anyone you know of that would be a good fit to volunteer! If you don’t know of anyone, and you have a blog, please consider having Rachel guest post, or hosting her blog button!
Please help me welcome Rachel Nielson, who oversees the project and helps coordinate volunteers:
Rachel with a Hogar resident
I remember clearly the first time that I walked through the gate of the Hogar del Niño orphanage in El Salvador.
I remember walking around the orphanage and seing all of the residents–I say seeing them instead of meeting then because there were far too many to meet. I saw young, physically disabled kids in wheelchairs playing with a little basketball hoop. I saw older, mentally disabled adults rocking back and forth. I saw a room full of babies, lying on the ground on plastic mats, crying to be held. I saw Geovanny, wearing a tie and smiling. I saw Alonso, waving me over with his eager eyes, wanting to talk though he isn’t able too. I saw what appeared to be cages in their bedrooms. I saw the workers hugging and talking to them.
I was totally overwhelmed.
I met with the director, and, in my poor Spanish, tried to tell her how much I wanted to help. I tried to tell her that the Hogar and its work on behalf of the residents was beautiful.
That’s when I burst into tears.
I am not a crier, but the swell of emotions was just too much. On the one hand, this seemed like a safe, clean place for the residents where at least they had food and some love (unlike so many disabled beggars I’d seen on the streets of El Salvador). On the other hand, how could they sleep in cribs that looked like cages? How could all 150 of them be given enough attention by just 30 or so well-intentioned workers? Why weren’t the physically disabled kids in school? How could I possibly make any sort of a difference there?
I remember the director handing me a tissue with a smile. She told me to come back the next day.
I came back almost every day during the summer of 2005. I fell in love with these faces:
My life was never the same.
Today, I direct a volunteer program which sends American volunteers to live and serve at the Hogar for three-month shifts year round. I feel passionately about what we do. We work to improve the quality of life of the residents by planning classes, organizing activities, and giving much needed one-on-one attention. We blow bubbles, paint murals, give hugs, dress up in costumes, teach English classes, play Uno, organize scavenger hunts, and try to give the orphanage residents something to look forward to every day. Many of the children at the Hogar were abandoned by their parents as babies, and they will stay at the orphanage until they pass away. We work to make their lives happier, more fun, and more full of love.
We are always in need of volunteers. We are especially in need of volunteers right now. Please take a moment to look at the following links, and let me know if you can help.
Get to know the orphanage residents and the work we do with them: http://hogarproject.blogspot.com/p/meet-ninos.html
Find out about our volunteer requirements and apply to go to El Salvador: http://help-international.org/hogar-del-niño
Get ideas of how you can help spread the word about this volunteer opportunity: http://fyionrachandry.blogspot.com/2012/02/i-need-your-help.html
Thank you so much for your help!