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.
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