Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Olon Orphanage #AtoZChallenge

"If you want to celebrate a happy occasion, do it by helping those who are in need"
– Mohith Agadi

Fatima greets us with hugs at the entrance while shifting the young boy she is holding to her other arm. We make our way to the boys' dormitory. Fatima gathers all of the boys together and explains that they are about to receive a special performance.

My friend Dori-Ann’s 14 year old daughter, Catie, pulls out her violin and plays Disney songs. The boys are all silent, listening raptly to every chord. When the concert ends, the boys all gather to give Catie hugs and thank her for playing.
Boy's dormitory in foreground
Montañita in background

We are in the most loving place you hope to never live as a child. If you live here, it means that you have no other home. If you live here, Fatima is devoted to you all day every day and has dedicated her life to help improve yours.

Fatima walks with us to the girls' dormitory and Catie repeats the concert. The response is the same – lots of hugs and joy. Later, as we leave, Fatima thanks Catie profusely and asks when we will return. We schedule a makeover day for the teenage girls.

Makeover day is a blast. Dori-Ann brought hundreds of makeup samples from her business in Canada for this day. The girls pick the colors they want to try and help each other with application, following Dori-Ann’s tips. When one realizes she does not like her chosen colors, she washes her face and starts over.
Focused on getting it just right

A few younger girls try to join in but the teens politely explain that they are too young for makeup.

Dori-Ann provides professional haircuts to any girl who wants one. Catie and I help where we can - primarily, we listen and talk. The girls want to know all about Catie’s life in Canada. They are fascinated to learn that she is adopted.

By late afternoon, the girls look great and have had a fun day. We feel privileged to share in their joy.

I love days at the Fundación Santa Maria de la Esperanza Orphanage. It sits on a cliff between the towns of Montañita and Olon, Ecuador.
Some of the orphanage
buildings above Olon beach
I always leave with a heart full of love and renewed understanding of what is important in life. Fatima and her team are doing great raising children who arrive at varying ages with disparate backgrounds. I am grateful she welcomes me and my friends into their loving home.

Many foreigners who live in or visit the area check one bag for ourselves and one for the orphanage when we fly into Ecuador. The government covers some costs for running the orphanage. The rest come from donations and fund raisers like Food on the table, which is still short of it's goal.

If you are visiting from the #AtoZChallenge please include your blog link in a comment so I can check it out.

16 comments:

  1. Very inspiring to learn the girl was adopted. Nice story

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  2. Hi Emily - a heart warming story ... lovely and with lots of involvement from Canada and the local government ... I'm glad they're getting some love and kindness while they stay at the orphanage ... cheers Hilary

    http://positiveletters.blogspot.co.uk/2017/04/o-is-for-orkney-islands-adapted-breeds.html

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    1. Hi Hilary, Fatima and the other ladies who run the orphanage are so loving and giving.

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  3. Such a lovely thing to do for the kids who live there!
    Also, that's quite the view, the building on a cliff...

    The Multicolored Diary: WTF - Weird Things in Folktales

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    1. That view is so amazing. It is 7 miles of straight, fairly empty and postcard perfect beach.

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  4. I like the idea of the makeup kits and how everything possible is being done to help these girls feel like they're home.

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    1. Fatima and the other ladies do a great job teaching pride in ownership. In their dorm rooms, they each have space around their beds that they can personalize (within reason) to show that it is theirs. It is fun when one of the girls grabs me to show me how they have decorated their space.

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  5. Wonderful post! It seems to a great place. Good to know about the kids living there. Glad that these wonderful ladies are making it home for the children.
    Thanks for sharing
    PMS
    Best Wishes!

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    1. Thanks Karnika! The ladies are quite special. Thank you for reading about these kids and the ladies who raise them.

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  6. You have chosen piquant words with the alphabets and helping those in need seems to be very close to your heart. Bravo!
    A little about earthquakes in my N-for-Nature post:
    http://laksluck.blogspot.in/2017/04/n-for-nature.html

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    1. Thank you for your kind words Lakshmi. Your N-for-Nature post is beautiful.

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  7. That sounds like a home more than an orphanage! Thank you for sharing about this place, Emily. It was quite touching! And it is in such a beautiful spot too!

    Btw, I just published my O post @ A to Z of Happiness: Optimism.
    Do visit it.
    Happy AtoZing!

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    1. Thank you Chicky. The women who run it are able to make it home-like primarily through donations. Mattresses, clothing, and a lot of their food come from generous folks around the world.

      It is such a beautiful place with an amazing view!

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  8. It's good of you to volunteer, and it sounds like other expats also help or donate to the orphanage. Wondering if that is in some ways better than the alternative, foster care? I guess both options have their good and bad. Beautiful location. It's nice that they have a view. Maui Jungalow

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    1. Yes, a lot of other expats help the orphanage. Foster care does not seem to exist in any official capacity here. Having seen both environments, I do see good and bad in both. The adults are the most important element making either a success for the kids.

      The views are incredible.

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