Today we rented a car and drove out of Panama City to visit Hogar San Jose De Malambo. Here are the highlights:
1. We did not die in a car accident with a Diablo Rojo (Panama’s brightly painted public buses driven by mostly ex-cons who rule the road).
2. We actually found our way out of the city and over the Bridge of the Americas thanks to these stellar directions. (This is not as easy as you think as there are NO SIGNS that make any sense pointing you in the correct direction.)
3. We eventually made it to the orphanage after getting lost for 45 minutes. We finally pulled over to a grocery store parking lot and asked someone for directions. A dirty white van, brimming with loads of people and piles of groceries, graciously escorted us the last two miles to the orphanage. That’s pretty nice if you ask me.
4. Meeting the Sisters and ladies who care for these children was a delight – almost as delightful as meeting many of the children. The openness and warmth beaming from their beautiful and trusting faces touched me deeply. I want to take them all home, but I don’t think they will fit in the RV. (But I can fundraise for them and send cookies and coffee to the people who help out.)
Here are some pictures… and a little video of mi madre driving us there. You may wonder why we are so jubilant in the video. Go driving in any Latin city and you will understand. We feel like we can do anything now.
You may also wonder, “hey, where are all the pictures of the children? I want a refund!” When I asked if I could take pictures, I was told not to capture their faces out of respect for their privacy. What does that leave? Hands. Shoes. Feet. I think I got a set of knees in there, too. Very cute knees.
There were three young boys playing together in this room. One boy was blind and having a good time twirling in circles and laughing. He loved that I reached out and touched him, and he even clung to me for a moment. The three-year-old boy, on the left in the photo above, was playing with a plastic bottle filled with dried beans. Shake, shake, shake!
Here are Emanuel’s doses. Each child has their own tray in the refrigerator.
What happens when the orphans grow up? Here is Alina, our tour guide, who is also a former resident. She came here when she was eight-years-old. She is now studying physical therapy at the university. It seemed that every child we passed especially loved their “big sister” Alina!