Back in October we had an amazing experience in a place called Latacunga. The other FHC orphanage is located there. We had very well detailed instructions on how to find ourselves at the orphanage about 3 hours away (thank you Megan!!). We were surrounded by farmland and many cows walking the roads. The scenery is, like almost every area of Ecuador, amazing. I can’t explain how diverse the landscape here is, you travel a few hours and are in the jungle or near a snowcapped volcano, or hotsprings or the beach etc., etc., etc. Here we were able to have a very clear and gorgeous view of the volcano Cotopaxi. We are incredibly grateful for this entire experience.
In Quito the orphanage houses children up to the age of 6 I believe, Latacunga is quite different. Not only do they house younger children but they also have an entire floor “Casa Esperanza” which is devoted to their older special needs orphans. What happens to a special needs orphan after the age out of an orphanage? I don’t know, but here they keep them and care for them. It is such a beautiful example of love. Casa Esperanza was a difficult and incredible experience. It can be overwhelming at first when you are met with so many individuals with a plethora of disabilities, mental, physical or both. I met a young woman who was nonverbal with cerebral palsy, so she is in a wheelchair, but her mental capacities are normal. She is able to communicate with her ipad, and she is not much older than my oldest daughter. She was beautiful and loving and she won my heart.
There are special needs kids on the younger floor as well, and that was a unique experience all its own. One of the little boys with special needs was blind and I’m not sure what his other issues were, but he was constantly being hugged and loved by another normally developing child. These children are all working together, living together, and loving together and they are not afraid of someone different.
Grant was up in Casa Esperanza the first day while I was downstairs. After they all ate I guess they sat down and one of the Tias turned on the t.v. and it was playing a South American version of ET (entertainment tonight) where what is valued and praised are some of the most superficial aspects of society. It was a stark contrast with all these individuals who are looked over and undervalued. Humbling.
I don’t know what it takes for us to understand the beauty and value of all people. Being parents of a special needs child was a very difficult challenge and an experience I will never regret. She was a gift to us and she cultivated a compassion for others like her. Don’t be afraid of these beautiful and different souls. They are everywhere and they need love, just as we do.