With the groceries stuffed in the trunk of Yanett’s car and the overflow in the backseat  we headed out to the district of Ventanilla where La Sagrada Familia is located. Traffic was fierce – seemed as though everyone was out that Saturday. After what seemed like hours Yanett turned the car off the main road up the dirt, rock filled street lined with shantys of homes on either side to the gates of the orphanage. Once inside we greeted the directors and the car was unloaded by kids that lived inside the “compound.” Asking how many kids were living there now I expected to hear a little more than 763 which is how many were there in August. The total now … upwards of 813! And growing. That is almost 1 every day since I was here in August. When will it taper off? When will the numbers cease to climb? How long can they continue to take in children and provide a place for them??? The numbers are staggering and this is happening all over Peru. More and more children are being abandoned. And yet, oddly, I find myself thankful. Thankful for the directors of this orphanage who have the desire and passion running through their veins to provide a home and food for these children. Thankful that the man who started this over 2 decades ago had the vision and the passion. That he felt the stirring in his soul to DO SOMETHING.

We walked around the “construction” – ditches that the older boys were digging to lay piping for water supply and irrigation.

Orphanage - laying pipes
The continual striving to be self sufficient is impressive. But about that the kids are being taught building skills, learning the importance of giving back and contributing to the place they call home.

On our way to see the children ages 2 and under, older kids streamed toward us showering us with hugs, kisses on the cheek and saying hello, some momentarily stopping their chores of washing and hanging out the laundry to come over and give us a hug and welcome us. What a way to be greeted!!

Walking through the door to the dorm that holds about 35 children from newborn to 2 years old the screams, clinging to our legs, hugs and continual motion captured our attention. Game On! For the next couple of hours we were immersed in continual motion and constant attempts to gain our attention. We brought coloring books and crayons for them – something to do as a controlled group activity! Which actually worked. See for yourselves.

Orphanage - kids coloring with steph

Orphanage - kids coloring They were excited to show off their work too…… Orphanage - girl coloring

Orphanage - more coloring
Orphanage - boy and girl coloring

Orphanage - yanett and kids coloring
Orphanage - coloring

Orphanage - coloring standing up
Coloring is even good standing up!!!!  After they had colored for awhile, the teachers gathered up the books and crayons and announced it was time for lunch………and with that the kids all lined up to get their hands and faces washed.

Orphanage - after washing up Several of them helped set up the table with their little chairs. Toooooo cute. And … lunch was served.

Orphanage - lunch table And all 35 of them were fed at once – at the table, in a high chair or on the lap of one of their teachers.

Tomorrow -the menu – and what they “look forward” to each and everday.