“We make a living by what we get. We make a life by what we give.” – Winston S. Churchill
The first time I went to El Salvador, I fell in love with the beauty of the country and its people. For those of you who have been to El Sal, you know that both the people and the country are so much more than the sinister headlines we read or political cheap shots echoed by talking heads.
On my second visit, I shared a coffee in the capital with a stranger who was here for work but disclosed that he was going to spend the day with his coworkers at an orphanage, in the surfing village of El Tunco, called ‘Remar’.
I gave the stranger what money I had on me ($100) and hoped he’d put it toward his supply run. A month later, he sent me a thank you email with a photo of the children, which moved me to find out more.
I started to do some digging and eventually found a contact at the orphanage. Fast forward almost a year after that shared cup of coffee, and I set up my first visit. Within just a few minutes, I knew that these kids – and their smiles – would be impossible to forget.
Behind a nondescript black steel door lies an orphanage that is home to more than 120 children, many of whom are escaping abuse and gang violence, and who are survivors of neglected communities. Newborns to teenagers attend the orphanage and are given an opportunity to reclaim their lives. The orphanage also serves as a place for care and protection to young adolescent mothers, babies, and children that have suffered abandonment and abuse.
A variety of small buildings make up a village of sorts that meet certain needs and host different workshops. It is an uplifting environment that encourages the children to reclaim the normalcy of life through structure, safety and community.
The engine behind the orphanage, and what makes any of this possible, is the heart, strength and perseverance of the Director, Mary. This woman has an undeniable spirit and once meeting her, you are awed. If saints are walking the earth, she is undoubtedly one.
There is a school on the grounds, which was established from the need to bring comprehensive education to children and young adults of the Remar Children’s Homes after having suffered discrimination in the public education system. It has expanded to include children from nearby communities with a current enrollment of 300 students.
In an effort to raise funds, the orphanage has opened a Café and Bakery that serves the tourist community with hope that any/all profits will help fund the work that the orphanage is doing.
The Squeaky NYC staff has just returned from a trip to Remar. We raised $10,000 through hundreds of personal donors. Mary will be putting these funds towards electricity, school uniforms, and a washing machine. We spent the day taking photos with the kids, playing games, and being attacked with water balloons – it is a day we won’t soon forget. Our hope is that these kids know that people care about them all over the world.
If I hadn’t sat next to that man during breakfast, there’s a chance I never would have found Mary and the kids of Remar, and been able to provide this opportunity for the team. There is always an opportunity to do something nice for others – sometimes you just need someone else to remind you of it.
To all those who donated, thank you for your kindness. You make the world a better place.