Wednesday, June 20, 2012

The Girls of Esperanza

I’ve been in Mexico for six years now and my life has been enriched in so many ways, but one of the greatest gifts of all was meeting and getting to know the girls from the Esperanza Orphanage in Mexico City.

We have a friend with a wonderful property out in the country beside a lake and surrounded by fields and hiking and horse trails. She has two trojes, which are small purépecha-style cabins, a gazebo, and a lovely rustic country-style house. She also has cats, dogs and horses. Her little bodega, tool/storage shed, has bicycles, life jackets, kayaks, horse tack and tents. The gigantic tree in the middle of the front yard sports a long swing.

Now I ask you, is this the perfect place for a camp for kids or what? It most definitely is and our friend kindly hosts a group of 30 girls from an orphanage in Mexico City for one week every year, the week after Easter. When she told us that she needed volunteers we were a little unsure because back then our Spanish left a lot to be desired, but she assured us that it wouldn’t matter.


Our friend was absolutely right. Kids are kids no matter where they are from and have their own way of communicating. A smile and a hug are universal!

todd angie
Todd and Angie

With each successive year our Spanish improves and we get to know the girls more intimately. Their backgrounds are varied but the one thing they all have in common is that they come from bad beginnings. We are not encouraged to ask questions about their past but if they wish to share things with us it is up to them. Some do and some don’t but we know enough about them now to be amazed at how grounded they are now.

This is due mostly to the two nuns who run the orphanage and Veronica, the social worker there. Madre Roble and Veronica are mostly concerned with the children and the other nun, whom I have not yet met, is the administrator. This is the entire staff of the orphanage. The girls are never adopted out of Esperanza and know that they will grow up there together as a family.

Madre Roble and Veronica

They get kids with special needs that may need different schooling or physical therapy. Madre Roble takes this in stride and loves them all equally. Everyone has something to bring to the family and they are all very close and protective of each other despite their differences.

 Looking out for the little ones



The kids range from about 4 to 19 or 20 years of age. Out of necessity they lead a pretty structured life in Mexico City so at the camp we want them to be free to do what they want, when they want. This requires a lot of volunteers and preparation on our part but what ensues is sort of organized chaos. The kids can make crafts, go bike riding, hike, go horseback riding, swimming and kayaking. We also take little side trips when we can.

A Day at the Waterfalls


mud pies
You can see where this is going!


Uh huh



lunch time

We’ve been doing this for several years now and have watched these kids grow and thrive. Todd has made trips to Mexico City for the quinceañeros, the HUGE celebration that happens when a girl turns 15, as several of the girls have adopted him as their dad and he must play that roll at the celebration. They do these celebrations for four kids at a time because it is very costly and money has to be raised for the party.

Needless to say we have come to love them all and look forward every year to camp week. We keep in touch in between by phone and email and Facebook. Although teenagers have their own language, no matter what language they actually speak, and sometimes I have absolutely no idea what they are saying. I’m just always glad to hear from them.


  1. Wow. wow. wow.

    Great photos and great to hear about this slice of happiness.

    I keep reading about your life and I am amazed.

  2. Thank you. I hope I can keep it interesting. I have read your blog as well and I gather your life has changed, again, pretty radically of late. I hope it all works out well for you.