Archive for January, 2009

Medical Team at the Orphanage

Friday, January 30th, 2009

Yes, a medical team of wonderful men and women came from the Harrisburg, Pennsylvania area to our orphanage. In mid January, 2009, they set up a medical clinic in one of our large rooms at the orphanage. They brought everything that they needed and then some!



In retrospect, it seems like an impossible task. But, they organized a medical clinic and pulled it off. All of our kids got physicals. The team started with height & weight checks, recording all the info on individual records. Each child got a physical, got checked over and if needed, received medications. After they were finished with their check ups, the children got to choose a new toy from a toy box…. for being good patients. Some were not such good patients but they still got their toy and their stickers. All of our children benefitted from this.


After the orphanage children had received their physicals and their shots, we opened the clinic up the the local villagers. They were lined up daily to receive medical care. Many of them received creams, lotions, medicines, tylenol, cough syrup, etc. and all received vitamins and a supply of ibupropen tablets. Day after day, new patients came and received the team’s services.


The medical team set up three stations and each was equipped with a doctor, a nurse and an interpreter. Some of the children just didn’t know what was happening but the adults certainly wanted to take advantage of this great opportunity. The cost to the local village families was a roll of toilet paper and a small bag of sugar. When I say small bag, the bags probably were about a lb. of sugar. That’s all. They felt like they were paying for their care, it kept their sense of pride intact and the orphanage benefitted because we received toilet paper and sugar. Of course, if a family did not have those items, they were seen anyway.

It was a busy 5 days and we are so lucky that this medical team came to the orphanage. They made friends with everyone and their final day was an emotional one. They served the kids s’mores


and we put up a pinata. The kids had fun hitting the pinata until the candy fell.


The team received small gifts from Karen, the orphanage director.


Many of us and most of the medical team shed tears and we all shared multiple hugs when it was time to say goodbye.


They took time out of their schedules to come to Guatemala. They donated so many helpful items to the orphanage and left us bags of things to take to a local hospital near the orphanage.


They bonded with the kids and the staff. They gave us their time, their expertise and their attention. We are so grateful.

Thanks to all of you who worked on the medical team. You are appreciated.



Chickens = Eggs

Wednesday, January 28th, 2009

In July 2008, our remaining chickens were taken from the chicken coop. They were taken during the night and without permission. It was a sad day for us & the kids as that meant no more eggs for a while. I guess a local villager was hungry and was tempted by the hens. We left the chicken coop empty for the past 6 months. One reason was to make sure any new chickens that we brought in would start out in a clean, disease free chicken coop. We also hoped that whoever stole them, would forget about chickens and think that we weren’t going to get any more chickens. Well, the razor wire is up and that will keep anyone from climbing the wall of the orphanage.


We were lucky to receive funds to purchase 75 laying hens and feed. So, on Saturday, January 17th, Monica picked up the hens. She brought them back in the old van. Phew… boy did that van have a foul (fowl) smell. These are brown chickens. Brown chickens = brown eggs.


One by one, the boys carried the hens down to the chicken coop. The dog, Canelo, watched and waited, hoping that a chicken would escape so that he would have it. The boys were extra careful and all the hens were safely put into the chicken coop.






These hens are young and it will take them a couple of weeks to get acclimated to their new surroundings and their chicken yard. Right now, we’re only getting 2-3 eggs a day. Soon, their bodies will respond to their new feed (which encourages egg production) and the chickens will grow just a bit. And then, we’ll have lots of eggs.

In about a month, we should be getting 60-70 eggs a day. And that will be great for the kids. They can start eating eggs again.

So… which came first… the chicken or the egg?

Getting Caught Up

Tuesday, January 27th, 2009

I am getting caught up. After being out of the country for a couple of weeks, there’s a lot to do to get caught up.

Part of what is keeping me busy right now is sending pictures to the people that donated all the wonderful things for the kids…. backpacks, water bottles, blankets, shirts, more shirts, id tags for their new backpacks, wooden spinning tops, airplanes, chickens, medical supplies, glasses, pencils, pens, and so much more. And of course, I’m sending thank you notes and receipts for cash donations that were received while I was gone.

It is all very much appreciated. Thank you again and again.
More later in the week… I promise.


Home is where the heart is!

Saturday, January 24th, 2009

Yes, I am back home in California and Paige will soon be landing in Boston. Our two week work trip is over.

But in our hearts, it is not over. It will never be over. Experiences like this change you… for the better.

And…. you can guess where our hearts are right now.


Coming Home

Saturday, January 24th, 2009

I am sitting on the floor of Aurora airport in Guatemala, all checked in and ready to get on a 7 am flight to Houston. I have a one hour connection in Houston… with going through customs & immigration, getting my bag, rechecking it and running from international to the domestic terminal, it will be tight.

It was a GREAT trip. I’m sad to leave but also happy to be getting back home tonight.

There will be a lot more news and updates in the next couple of weeks. Keep checking in for stories and updates.

Thanks for staying connected with us.


Complete with popcorn

Tuesday, January 20th, 2009

Today was movie day for the pequenos, the little ones. Paige and I did our exercise walk to Satelite around 8 this morning and decided to buy some new movies for the kids. They watch the same movies over and over again so it was about time to get them some new ones.

On Friday night, the medianos and the grandes watched a movie in the big TV room with the Canadian university students. The Canadian students left early Sunday morning and they wanted to spend time with the kids. So… that night, the kids and students were up in the big TV room….probably about 65 people were in that room. And I have no idea what movie they watched. We kept it a secret, but while they were watching the movie, Paige and I got about 25 bags of microwave popcorn and we popped them all. Yep, we filled up two large baskets with popcorn and then took the popcorn up to the TV room. The kids were excited and boy did they eat all of that popcorn. And… they had a big mess to clean up on Sunday morning. They had to get to it before the cockroaches did.


The pequenos missed out on movie night on Saturday because it was too late for them to stay up and also the room would have been too crowded. Their attention span is much shorter also. And because they missed the movie and the popcorn, we wanted to give them a special treat. So, the movie that they watched today was one of the new purchases…. Casper. Yes, the audio is in Spanish.

We brought in a big box of freshly popped popcorn and they patiently waited to eat it. It was fun to watch them watch a new movie. And yep, every single morsel of that popcorn was gone. There was no possibility of cockroaches getting fed in that room today.


Other movies? Oh yes, we did buy three other movies for the boys. One is Ironman and that will be for the grandes, the boys that are 13 or 14 years old… up to 19 years old. Another movie is Nim’s Island, one of my favorite movies. And the 4th movie that we bought today is Ratatouille. All of them have spanish audio so I hope they hold the attention of the kids and I hope that they enjoy watching their new movies.

Can you tell I sort of like to spoil the kids a little bit while I’m here? I do! I’m guilty.


What is a bodega?

Monday, January 19th, 2009

Just what is a bodega? It’s a storeroom, a celler, a closet where items are stored. We have different bodegas here in the orphanage. Basically, they are rooms with locked doors and with windows that we don’t open. And they’re in different locations throughout the orphanage. The one that gets used the most is THE bodega, the food bodega. The keys that open it have a yellow ID ring on them… so we can figure out which key goes to this particular door….compliments of yours truly many trips ago. (yes, the key situation drives me crazy… there are just so many of them). The door to this bodega is usually locked and kids are not allowed in it unless they have a specific reason for being there.

This bodega has dry food items in it. We use leche en polvo, dried concentrated milk, to make milk for the kids. The packages and bags of milk are in this bodega. The middle of the bodega is for the huge, institutional sized bags of dried items. The big bags sit on pallets and the cook can be in there scooping up pots of beans to cook, filling up the sugar container, getting milk powder to make milk, etc. Usually the bags are just tossed in there and there’s usually no rhyme or reason to the bodega. The shelves are stacked with soups, pastas, drink mixes, cookies, rice, dried beans, bags and bags of sugar, salt, coffee, canned goods, atol, cereal, miscellaneous items, etc. And there’s a refrigerator also.

The bodega is always a big problem. The cook is in and out of it, donations come in, there’s no time to sort the new donations, toys get tossed in, spare knives and other miscellaneous items end up in there and then they get lost and forgotten. And it drives me crazy.

It took us 5 days but we cleared it out. We threw out so many things, we moved all the non food items out and put them in another bodega for now, we cleaned all the shelves, we sorted, we passed things back and forth, we took stuff out and at night we had to put the same stuff back in, we cleaned the floor again and again, etc. I bought 20 somewhat clear, 15-18 gallon sized plastic bins with lids and we sorted, sorted and sorted. Each bin has one type of item in it. Of course, there are many bins of soup, many of drink mixes, etc. But.. all the milk is in the same area of the bodega. All the cereal is in one spot, the ketchup is on a shelf with the mustard and mayonaisse, etc. The bogega is organized now. I showed the cook how it’s sorted and organized and the hope is that it stays that way…. at least for a while or until I get back here and clean it again! We even have a couple of shelves for miscellaneous items. It is sooooooo much better now.

Life is so much easier when things are in their place and you know how to get an item quickly. And boy am I glad that job is finished…. my back is sore. But it’s worth it and it is very gratifying for Paige and I to see the end result. Let’s hope it stays this way.




After one week

Sunday, January 18th, 2009

This is what I look like after living here and working at the orphanage for this past week.


Hey, it’s my day off today. What did you expect? I’m going to Antigua!

Yogurt in the refrigerators

Sunday, January 18th, 2009

I did manage to take a few pictures of a couple of the refrigerators full of yogurt. Here they are.




See, I told you there was a lot of yogurt !

Illinois Vision Team at Hogar Miguel Magone

Friday, January 16th, 2009

We had a team of people here doing eye check ups. They brought 2000 pairs of prescription glasses, all sorted, numbered and labeled with the prescriptions.

It’s just amazing to see all the boxes lined up… all the glasses ready for dispensing.


The team brought a portable refraction machine. The kids, the villagers, the staff, etc. got their eyes tested with the machine. It focuses on each eyeball, reads and notates the correct prescription, prints out a presciption and then prints out a list of 5-10 pairs of glasses that would work best for the person. And of course the glasses are numbered so it’s easy to find the correct pairs. Then a team member would go and get the glasses, try them on the person and let the recipient choose which glasses they want. Everyone even got a little repair kit for their glasses…complete with a tiny screwdriver, a magnifying glass and a hand made case for each pair of glasses. Amazing.


The vision team brought reading glasses also… labeled with the corrections for each pair of glasses. People would sit and read a page, written in Spanish, and then get the correct prescription for their reading needs.


Here are two of the teenage team members, working at the computer.


Here’s Jackie, working in the vision clinic.


Yes, people had to wait a little while but it was very organized. And of course, the testing, the care and the glasses were at no cost to the recipients. They knew they were being taken care of, they knew they were receiving a great gift and they were very patient.


And of course, we had to take a group picture of the members of the vision team… along with a couple of our kids. The team members were so patient, so kind and so generous to come and spend this time with us. 99% of the people that got glasses had never had glasses in their life…. and it’s pretty amazing that they now have clear vision. Some people were in their 60s and 70s and they finally got their first pair of glasses.


And of course, the entire team will be on their way back to Illinois soon. We know that they will have lifelong memories of their time with us and with the kids. We also hope that they know how grateful we are for their time, their work and their compassion.