Last weekend, Rekha Aramuthu (SMBA ’15) traveled back down to Ninos de la Promesa, an orphanage in Tijuana, Mexico. After staying for the weekend, she took some time to reflect on what she observed during her time there and hopes to implement in future visits.
The first day there was a Quinceañera which was a massive event. Quinceañera literally translates to fifteen year old. This ceremony is a premier event in any girl’s life in Hispanic culture. There was excitement building up throughout the day and it was nothing short of a wedding experience. The two Quinceañeras got their hair done, received a pedicure, and dressed in their gowns. Everyone else was dressed in their best church clothes. There was emotion, drama, and lots of happiness as the girls walked down the aisle to be blessed by the pastor, each looking nothing less than a fairy tale character in their beautiful gowns. After the service at church we headed back to the orphanage and got the party started. It was a fun filled evening with scrumptious food and some great music. After a long night of merry-making we hit the sack.
Sunday was pretty mellow and we mostly played and kept a low profile after an eventful Saturday. In the afternoon there was a theatre workshop conducted for the kids. The children were quite excited, they had even made their own script which the director very graciously complimented them for. There was a run through of the script and dance sequel they learned together. It was a delightful scene to watch.
I engaged with the elementary level kids with basic math puzzles which they were very excited about solving together. However tables turned after a point and I was given math lessons. The girls taught me to count numbers up to 20 in Spanish, which was followed by quizzing me with flash cards. They even taught me shapes and colors all of which I was tested on. There was high pressure to perform well especially when eight year olds are testing your intelligence with basic numbers. I am glad to say that I performed exceedingly well.
During my stay at the orphanage, I identified some areas of opportunities which could be addressed to increase efficiency and contribute to the overall development of the children. The areas included: Management, Infrastructure, and Child Development.
Some of the recommendations include:
Management – Appoint a volunteer coordinator to facilitate projects.
Infrastructure – Both long and short term projects depending on financial constraints. A few include refurbishing the interior and exterior appearance of the facility, solar panels, desalination of water, and expanding the play area.
Child Development – Physical and Mental development through sports days, cultural activities and workshops. Possible partnerships with local colleges/communities to teach kids painting, arts etc.
I have sent a proposal to the orphanage incorporating these ideas. Hopefully they will find these useful.