If an 80 year old woman can do it, you can do it too.
I have been back in Arizona only a few days and my mind keeps going back to the orphanage in Costa Rica. My eyes get watery when I look at pictures for the umpteenth time, then I laugh and dry my tears. There are so many good memories, but I wonder, did I do enough for the children? Or is there still something more I can do?
When the bus dropped me off at the locked gate in front of their building, the little kids would stand there with outstretched arms, waiting for someone to unlock it and allow me to enter. They clung to my legs or grabbed my shoulders, asking for a ride. Some of the children asked for paper and crayons to show me their artistic talents.
Daniel and his sister were brought in by the Red Cross because they were badly mistreated by their family. Daniel really knows how to give a meaningful hug. He drew a picture just for me, and wrote “I love you, tourist” on the bottom in Spanish; he saw all of us outsiders as either tourists or teachers. One day, Daniel got in trouble over a pair of sunglasses and he tore up his room in anger. I was told to leave him alone until he calmed down, but a few minutes later I slipped in his room and we sat on his bed, crying and hugging each other. Daniel looked up at my tears and I could tell from his eyes that I was probably one of the few people that had ever cried for him in his life.
The younger children had different ways of showing their affection. One little preschooler liked to play with my hair and put pretend makeup on me. Then she would turn my face to her and look at me like I was beautiful. The children also liked to lay across my lap for back rubs, or sit on my feet for a ride.
The doctor made a visit every Thursday to check on the kids. The doctor and I had a nice conversation one day as he was giving 17-month-old Jefferson a check-up. He told me these kids need lots of love and he volunteers one day at the orphanage, and works in the Emergency Room at a local hospital the rest of the week. He believes that life isn’t perfect, so he takes the day to surround himself with these little kids, leaving everything else behind. Some of the older boys come back to play with these little ones whenever they can and one boy came back and mopped the floors several times. I asked why he did that and it was a plain, simple answer. “I just want to help!”
One of the little guys, Erasmo, goes to preschool and whenever he would come "home" he ran towards me, his eyes wide open and mouth even wider, to give me a High-Five! One day he came in from school and gave me the normal High-Five. “Book!” He said, and then jumped on my lap to show me his workbook accomplishments which were marked with stars. Erasmo wanted me to read him the story about “Mickel Mouse”, and several of the other children gathered around to share in his excitement. I read Mickey Mouse in English knowing full well they could not understand a word of it. To make up for the language barrier, I read the story with exaggerated facial expressions and different voices for each of the characters. They all seemed to enjoy it and the story ended with lots of laughter.