Last year’s Youth Ignite Award Winner ORPHANetwork was featured on Nicaraguan TV for their good work with orphaned and abandoned children in Nicaragua. Part of the segment is filmed in Hogar De Fe, where Luke Hillier came with a group to visit the children.
You can watch the video with subtitles by pressing the “cc” button, or read our transcript below:
NEWS ANCHOR: Thank you for staying with us, we will now continue with our programming. Few Nicaraguans really know how orphanages work in our country. Nestor Telles shares the story of children who were raised and educated in these centers, thanks to the help of non-governmental organizations.
NESTOR TELLES: At the orphanage “Hogar de Fe,” 55 children, most of whom suffered abandonment from their parents, have found the warmth and love of a family. This project was founded 22 years ago by Pastor Ramiro Blandon, who began this work after one day finding an abandoned child at his doorstep.
PASTOR RAMIRO BLANDON: There are children, you know, who are total orphans. Abused children, children who have been abandoned by their parents. And some families, due to conditions of extreme poverty, can’t provide for an education for the children so we help them with that.
NESTOR TELLES: Here they are educated with an integrated learning approach all the way through high school. In the modern computer lab, each student has an assigned computer with internet access.
KEVIN FLORES: Well I feel good, here they teach me a lot of different things, for example how to use a computer.
MELANIA MENDOZA: Here I receive music classes, English class, I help the ladies who work here with chores, I do all sorts of things.
NESTOR TELLES: The teacher of the computer class first came to this center as a five-year-old child. Now, during his professional life, he is contributing and giving back after himself having received a quality education.
MOISÉS BONILLA: Well, I got my technical degree, I graduated high school, I got accepted at a university and I majored in Computer Science. Now I am working here at the Hogar as support staff, helping the children in the lab, because I wanted them to have the same opportunity that I had, so that they could manage to make something meaningful out of their lives.
NESTOR TELLES: Hogar de Fe is located in the Los Brasiles community in Managua. In order to maintain this facility, $17,000 are invested each month to cover the costs for food, education, health, and hygiene for the kids. The help comes from NGOs from the United States, Europe, and ORPHANetwork, which has a headquarters here in Nicaragua.
PASTOR RAMIRO BLANDON: We are projecting, we have projections to have 60 children total during 2014. You all can see that the ministry is large, but the needs are also large. We need, by means of this news channel, that people would learn about Hogar de Fe and that they can somehow become a part of this
NESTOR TELLES: Puente de Amistad is another orphanage that operates in Nicaragua. It is located in the El Canon community near Carretera Sur 70 children live here, and the majority are adolescents, like these three sisters who have been here since they were young children. Their parents decided to bring them to this center so that they would receive nutrition and an education.
JESSICA CAROLINA MARTINÉZ: Well, I came here when I was five years old. Now I’m 14. My parents decided to bring me here so that I would have a better life. It’s been a really good experience, here they give me everything I need. I feel like I’m at home here.
NESTOR TELLES: The youngest girls have nice surroundings in their room, with bright pink walls and cuddly stuffed animals. Before going to bed each night, their caretakers read them a story. This custom helps them build character. My story was a common one, something that happens to all kids that come from low-income families.
ARELYS PERALTA: But when I found this center, well the government Ministry of Family brought me here, it made me feel like a girl who can be proud of her origins and her traditions. We don’t consider the kids here just “kids in a shelter” or “kids who need protection” but rather we see them as family, and this is what we try to establish in this center: a family.
UNNAMED CARETAKER: It is our desire that the children here don’t notice any difference at all, that they feel like they are protected here and that they’re safe; like they are part of a family.
NESTOR TELLES: Mauricio Lopez was educated in the Casa Bernabe home located in Veracruz. He arrived at this center when he was only five years old. Now he is in his fourth year studying Agricultural Engineering. He is also taking an English course. His father abandoned the family, and his mother, with four children, saw that she had no other option than to bring him to the orphanage. Today, he feels no resentment, and he maintains communication with his relatives.
MAURICIO LOPEZ: If it hadn’t been for the people at the orphanage, I wouldn’t be the person I am today, someone who is studying, someone who is moving forward in life thanks to God. Today I can confidently say that I wouldn’t at all be who I am if I hadn’t arrived at a home like this one.
NESTOR TELLES: Nubia Soto is another success story of someone who grew up in an orphanage. Just like in Mauricio’s case, Nubia’s parents went through a hard financial situation and in her home,. They were not able to provide the right kind of life for her and her seven siblings. Because of this, they brought her to Casa Bernabe, where she completed her high school studies. She was then able to finish the degree for Business Administration at the Central American University, where she completed her high school studies. She was then able to finish the degree for Business Administration at the Central American University. Today she works for an international NGO. In addition to this we also studied other technical careers, like for example English.
NUBIA SOTO: I had the chance to study English. So I see, I see how it is such a great opportunity for these children, for children who don’t have these possibilities, for parents who have no way of feeding their kids. It’s an amazing opportunity they have, that they can seek refuge in a Christian center. These success stories, of children and adolescents that were raised in orphanages.
NESTOR TELLES: These success stories, of children and adolescents that were raised in orphanages, would not have been possible without the help of the organization known as ORPHANetwork, which directs $1.5 million annually to the maintenance of 6 orphanages and the operation of 132 feeding centers.
EDDY MORALES: In terms of education, we have 7 key indicators we are working towards, one of which is that we want all of the children in our shelters to learn English. This is a campaign we are in the middle of. We have programs in each Home. We also have teachers, specifically for the kids, not the ones from school but rather tutors that come to the homes. We have English teachers even for the youngest children because we really want them to learn the language. We believe that in the future, this can give them a lot of good opportunities in Nicaragua. We believe that in the future, this can give them a lot of good opportunities in Nicaragua.
NESTOR TELLES: Alvaro Rivas is part of ORPHANetwork. When he was only five years old, he lived in the streets of Diriamba. When he did not have a home, he was raised in an orphanage. Today, his biggest motivation is being able to help kids who are suffering the same hardships he underwent.
ALVARO RIVAS: For a time I lived in the streets, and after this I was brought to one of the orphanages here in Nicaragua. And this, I believe, has helped me to improve, grow, and discover how I can make a difference. Now that I am an adult, I can understand many of the situations and needs of the children that live in these places.
EDDY MORALES: The goal is to create opportunities for a new life, both for the children in the homes and for the children in the feeding programs. Our most important goal, at the end of the day, is that we really desire for each of these children, and that all of the people that we work with, would have a personal experience with the Lord, an experience with Jesus. This is our fundamental goal.
NESTOR TELLES: ORPHANetwork was started as a project by some American college students who came to Nicaragua in 1995 during their vacation time. While they were here, they visited Casa Bernabe and saw the needs of the children there. Because of this, they decided to form a network of help, through churches, to help these children, who have promising futures. With photography by Luis Mora, Nestor Telles reporting for NotiVOS.