Today I am going to share a blog post by Kristen Pierce, a volunteer from South Carolina who spent her summer volunteering with the children at the local children’s shelter here in Copán, Angelitos Felices. After a month filled with twice-a-day visits and excursions, Kristen fell in love with the kids and became motivated to come back to Copán and do everything she can to help change their fate. She is back in the States but has her sights set on joining us very soon – hopefully as soon as September!
Dinosaur and Dog Essentials
by Kristen Pierce
I sat staring at my little brother’s large “Brontosaurus” toy today, and not because I am especially interested in dinosaurs. No, I am just dazzled by what we think of as necessary here in the United States, including the mountains of toys I see before me. To be blatantly cliché, we should assuredly be appreciative of these “essentials” we have at our fingertips. However, what is actually essential, and do the orphaned and abandoned children in Copan Ruinas have these “necessary” things?
Most people would answer the question, “what is vital?” with food, clothing, and shelter. Do the children I met in Honduras have these things? Yes. Minus the clothing, however, my dogs are in a better situation than these children. My pets even get to sleep on the couch (all day sometimes). Many of these children fall asleep on the concrete floor, unnoticed. My dogs have clean water and get medicine for fleas, ticks, and parasites. The little ones in Copan Ruinas have bloated worm bellies from the unsafe water, not to mention the bugs inhabiting their hair. My dogs have a green yard to play in. The kids have a gravelly road outside the orphanage, but most of the time they must stay inside. If I could wish for it, I would wish the kids could be as clean as my dogs, as comfortable, as parasite free. But one thing more: my dogs get to snuggle up to their family, get doted on and loved, which to me is vital, necessary, essential.
If an animal craves attention, how much more so a human being? This is what I find to be the most necessary element missing from the children’s lives: love. Everything is a competition, everything a struggle, because there are not enough people to go around to love them all. Each is precious, special, individual, but who is there to find out about it, to really see them? There are usually only one to two people to complete all cleaning, cooking, and other tasks throughout the day while at the same time caring for over twenty children. Who has time to love them? So they become insecure, lost. The short term volunteers come for a little while, but then these children are left again, as they were by their families. Who wouldn’t develop a complex?
With a new orphanage, the children will not just be sheltered, but also cared for. They will be split into much smaller groups so that each has a designated “mother” who is able to care for them individually. Hopefully, they will also be connected to a local mentoring family who solely “belongs” to them. I believe this will drastically help meet the most important and possibly overlooked vital necessity in these children’s lives. Children are not cattle, sheep, or even dogs, needing only to be fed, watered, and watched. Children must be nurtured, loved, taught, and given individual attention, which is something easily taken for granted when you have had it all your life. What would I have become if only given water, food, and shelter without love?