Immediately, we were in heaven! This was what we felt called to do so many years ago! When we first visited Peru, we felt the call on our hearts to serve children, specifically street children and abandoned children. And here we were!!! The orphanage houses 80 children - babies to 14 years old. Government regulations say that when the kids turn 15, they have to leave the orphanage and find their own way in the world.
Everyone has a story -- some were abandoned at the orphanage because their parents were in extreme poverty and couldn't care for them, some have been molested/raped by family members, some are alone due to the death of parents, some were found on the streets or in trash bins as babies... the stories are heartbreaking, and there are 80 stories to be heard!
Monica is 10 years old (they think). She was abandoned as a toddler because (best guess) she is a hermaphrodite... she was born as both sexes - male parts and female parts. She is really precious and very loving. She made Billy a paper crown with glitter letters and completely stole his heart.
Charlie is the oldest in the orphanage at 23. He is an exception to the rule. He has Down's Syndrome and cannot survive on his own. They found him when he was (best guess) 4-5 years old. He was literally living with a pack of dogs on the street. He couldn't walk - he crawled on all fours like the dogs. He couldn't speak - he growled and barked and whined. He had the social skills of a dog - he fought over food and bit people who came too close. Today, he is a loving sweet young man who loves to give hugs, dance, and play the drums. He is lucky -- new legislation states that the orphanage can no longer accept children with mental or physical handicaps because they don't have a full time nurse, a counselor, or any special training to deal with those issues (and can't afford to get them). If children come with these issues, they are turned away.
There are 7 siblings who were brought to the orphanage because the youngest child was born with a cleft pallet and required too much attention and care. The mom decided that she couldn't take care of everyone, so she gave them up. She wants to work and save money to have the baby's lip fixed (not the pallet - too expensive), but it is doubtful that this will ever happen.
There is Oscar (11), who hugs Billy a hundred times and sometimes won't let go. And John (13), who voluntarily checks himself in to the orphanage when life on the streets gets too bad or he gets too hungry. He lasts about a week or so, then checks himself out to try it again. If the weather gets bad or he can't sleep or eat, he comes back.
The kids make their own shoes - they work on them in a workshop/class in their spare time. They live in "casitas" of 8-10 kids with a substitute mom who cooks for them and helps them with school work. They wash their own clothes and clean their own houses. They all take care of each other. They are super well behaved!!! It is really an awesome place.
We rented a bus 3 nights this week to take the kids to the live concerts that the U of Georgia kids were holding downtown. They danced until they literally couldn't stand up anymore! One boy actually fell asleep between the drum set and a native drum during the concert - how do you fall asleep in the drum section???!!! They loved every minute of it and were sad to see it end last night.
We are going to take Kid's Club "on the road" and do it at the orphanage once per month... we don't have enough workers/helpers to do it more often yet. Pray for workers!!!! And pray for our new kids - we're already in love with them.