“Life begins at the end of your comfort zone.” -Neale Donald Walsch
Ms. Martinez: FANA, or the Foundation for the Assistance of Abandoned Children, was a touchstone of our day. Our hearts swelled with love and compassion for the children we met and worked with today. They, like us, craved human affection, conversation, and laughter and we were overjoyed to give it to them. At the end of the night, it should come as no surprise that I cried as we discussed what we experienced, since I’m the kind of person who literally cries when I see a cute puppy or a beautiful sunset. The feelings attached to today, whether at FANA or watching our students and the CASFA students interact, conjured up so many ideas about how to pay it forward. With inspiration from Grace, who joined us and contributed to SO much of this trip (INFINITE THANKS!!), our students mentioned the amazing ways that they plan to change the world. Grace shared her career and life paths intertwining through various different sectors, but mainly education, healthcare, and international travel and volunteerism. Jen S. plans to become a missionary doctor and open clinics to support those in need. Jose P. plans to start a neighborhood organization to support kids in after-school programs to help them succeed. So many of us said that we plan to research how adoption and foster programs work in the United States, and as we plan our families, consider those as options. Beyond the education or outreach that this blog has, our students plan to continue life habits and career choices with Jesus’ work in mind.
Hillary: Today was full of deep and mixed emotions, as well as fun. Thankfully we were blessed with waking up later than usual. The day started with a visit to FANA, a private child protection center. It was a strong experience that brought both joy and sadness. As much as we enjoyed our time with 3-4 year olds at the orphanage, we had more to do later that day. We went back to CASFA, our Colombian Partners’ school. We had lunch there and there was an afternoon full of dance parties and playing new games. The day ended with a reflection after dinner about our day and experiences.
At FANA, we were given a quick tour of the place which included seeing the different programs they offer. This included us being able to see young babies which was an adorable moment for many. We then got to separate into different groups working with the younger children. It was super fun and amazing experience. These kids were full of curiosity and intelligence. While working on a coloring project, a boy showed me the crayon he was using and said, “Este es Amarillo y se dice yellow.” It is surprising to see what these kids have to share. Another memorable moment was when a girl said Alejandro’s name was “Conejo,” I could not stop laughing. After FANA, we went back to CASFA. During lunch, we were singing songs such as “Despacito” and “Adios Amor.”
After cleaning up, we taught our Colombian partners’ El Caballo Dorado and it was an entertaining show. It then transitioned to them teaching us a about a craft. After the craft, we split up in groups to play traditional games in Colombia such as soccer and jump rope with a twist. It was constant fun the whole time and the last activity we did was more dancing. We wore traditional outfits and danced to songs such as the Macarena. Music proved to be a key to connecting the Cristo Rey students with the CASFA students. It helps create the family bond and unity between us. We create a memorable experience that lets us enjoy the new culture and company of new people.
Diana: From waking up early and taking a cold shower to having the best day ever filled with so much happiness, sadness and excitement is how I would sum up the day. However, I need to go into detail. The experiences from today are unforgettable and I can’t believe that I was able to do all of it just today. Going to a child protection organization, FANA, with our CAFSA partners was an experience that I will remember everyday. It was my first time visiting a place like this, I cannot put in words how lovely it was to be able to spend time with the little kids. Walking in those hallways, taking a glance of the rooms in which they go to and making funny faces in the other side of the window as they saw all of us walking by was my experience before being able to met the little adorable children.
Gathering as a group with little adorable kids was so exciting. The sun was so bright and we played games outside such as duck duck goose and broken bridge. I sat next to a little girl who had cute little rosy cheeks, Sarita. She was shy and I could tell she might want to sit aside from playing all the games with us. As time went by, I would motivate her to participate in the games and she did, while grabbing my hand. I could see that she started to develop a sense of trust with everyone after playing some games outside which made me so happy.
While back in the classroom with the little kids, we made some bracelets using fruit loops. After all the activities and breaking the piñata, it was sadly time to say goodbye. I couldn’t walk out without giving everyone a high five and a hug. Then I got to Sarita, and it was one of the hardest goodbyes I have ever given. Her friends who were sitting next to her said to me “I love you” and it made it even harder to leave. This day made me realize that we are all born with things to be grateful for and it doesn’t matter, the minimal things count. They really do. We all have different experiences that we grow up with but that is what makes us all unique because we learn from them even if they’re bad. The best thing that I learned from today’s experience is that even the simplest or most minimal-seeming actions can help anyone in need, so offer as much as you can without expecting the favor or kindness returned.
Today’s bloggers were Hillary, Diana, and Ms. Mtz!