Several members of the Cultural Care Au Pair community recently spent some time at the Casa Hogar orphanage in Cabo, Mexico as a way to give back to the community and help children in need through Cultural Care Kids First Foundation.
Local Childcare Consultants (LCCs) from around the country had the chance to visit and volunteer at the orphanage—many of them brought donations, and spent time doing crafts with the kids. After some bonding time, the LCCs rolled up their sleeves and helped with cleaning and maintenance around the facilities.
Kids First also provided Casa Hogar with a grant that will help provide a path to success for the young boys and girls in need in Baja California Sur. Casa Hogar is dedicated to providing active care and personal well-being to kids ages 8-19, building future productive citizens by giving sustenance, leadership and life skills by example. Casa Hogar is in the process of expanding one of their buildings and in particular creating a new classroom. The Kids First grant will fund the purchase of eight laptops for their new classroom.
All the LCCs that visited Casa Hogar walked away feeling fulfilled, touched, and inspired to continue helping children in need—both in Mexico and around the world. But one LCC left the orphanage feeling particularly moved.
Maryanne D’Amato of North Salem, New York had a profoundly eye-opening and rewarding experience at Casa Hogar thanks to a little boy named Zorn. We’ll let her tell the story in her own words …
“The night before I left, I was at my daughter’s basketball game where she fell and hurt her arm. It turns out she had a sprained wrist and fractured elbow. I was with her in urgent care until 9:30pm the night before leaving. I then left my house at 4:15am the next morning on my trek to Mexico and just kissed her goodbye in the dark while she slept. Of course, a worried, guilty mom heading off to paradise.
Fast forward to our Kids First adventure in Cabo. When we got to Casa Hogar, the Director named Jason asked if there were any basketball fans among us and a few raised our hands. It seems there was a teenage boy there named Zorn that Jason said had spina bifida. Jason told us he used to walk with braces, but he’s had some set backs and problems with his feet—and now he is confined to a wheelchair and he is very sad.
Jason said that Zorn loves basketball and chess, and if any of us would like to spend some time with him playing either, it might lift his spirits. My colleague Reba and I (a middle-aged mom whose best basketball days were many moons ago) joined him on the court with one of the staff. We had an amazing time playing and he started to smile, laugh and have fun on the court with us.
The world really does work in mysterious ways, as they say. I think my tears welled up about four times on our visit to Casa Hogar. The kids there were beautiful and funny and sweet and spunky. I enjoyed spending time with them, and making tye-dye shirts and playing.
All my worries for my daughter went away. She’ll be fine, after all—she was at home with Dad and her brother, plus she has excellent medical care and a charmed life. It gave me perspective.
I feel so fortunate that I had the opportunity to be there that day for a teenager who wanted to play a little hoops—a game I love to play and to watch my kids play. It really felt like I was meant to be there at that moment. Was this boy put in my path by the universe to ease my pain, or his, or both? I hope both.”
Before the LCCs left Casa Hogar, they carried on a special Kids First tradition—the act of quietly leaving small blue hearts behind after visiting children in need. These blue hearts are a way to make a wish and add an intention for these children—and a chance to leave a piece of ourselves with them.
Over the years, Kids First blue hearts have been left on playgrounds, on window sills, in gardens, on toy shelves and even tossed into the ocean near impoverished island communities.
Now, a piece of Kids First will forever remain at Casa Hogar. And a piece of Casa Hogar will forever be in the hearts of our LCCs and the Cultural Care community!