When I signed up for childcare work in Costa Rica, I thought I’d be working with orphans – which is by no means an easy task. Nevertheless, I thought that can try to emphatically understand how orphans feel and try to provide them with the love and attention they deserve.
On my first visit to the orphanage, I learnt that it is in fact a home for assaulted children who are currently wards of the state. I was taken aback when I found out that these young ones have been removed from their abusive homes and taken into the legal custody of the government. The stories of these children are heartbreaking, to say the least. The volunteers are given strict guidelines on how to deal with the children, who are all receiving therapy and are in the process of recovering from traumatic experiences.
There were eleven darling children when I was there for a couple of weeks. Despite the tragic pretext of why they were living at the center, they were full of love, mischief and energy. A little girl was adopted by her grandmother a day before I got there, which gave me and the other volunteers a surge of hope.
Volunteers work three-hour shifts in the mornings or afternoons to provide some relief for the tías (the “aunties” who take care of the kids). These women work for about two consecutive months with only three days off. Resources (like fresh produce) are scarce and there are barely enough hands to keep the children occupied, clean and safe 24 hours a day. The tías are remarkable women who are doing so much for so little in return.
Upon returning to Kuwait, I submitted one of photos I took for a contest on the IVHQ website. If you voted last week, you can vote again, or you can use another e-mail address. You can tell your family and friends. Help me get the word out! If I win, I’m hoping to donate the $100 to the center where I volunteered. It may not sound like a huge sum of money, but let me put it in perspective for you: $100 is about ₡49,000. That’s a box of locally grown strawberries, every day, for almost two months! And you wouldn’t believe how much those kids love strawberries.
You can find my photo by clicking here or going to the IVHQ website and searching under the images. I titled my photo “Right here, right now” because although these kids come from different places they are all at the center now and they are one large family. Right here, right now, they are loved. They’re being cared for, washed and fed. When I was there, they let me into their lives and wholeheartedly trusted me. They challenged me, made me run around on hot days and taught me Spanish. I learnt how to somehow carry three children at the same time, keep a large group occupied and find different activities on rainy afternoons. Every day, they put a smile on my face and taught me patience. I pray that their worst days are over and that the best is yet to come.