By Brenda Cintron, Designer

I recently returned from my Xref trip to the Casa Hogar orphanage in Guadalajara, where I was able to get to know new faces at the orphanage and photograph each child, most of whom have never had their photo taken. The majority of kids arrived at the orphanage for one of several reasons. They were either severely abused, abandoned, or their parents had passed away. The age of children here range from 1.5 years to 16 years. They all go to school during the week and occasionally have field trips around town on the weekends.

The Casa Hogar orphanage is 100% funded by donations, which means that they are not always able to provide adequate shoes or clothing for the children and as a result, many children run around with mismatched clothes and worn down shoes. There also seems to be a shortage of staff members. The older kids help take care of the younger ones and in many ways they are children raising children. During my stay I only saw about 4-5 adults among 84 kids. Two of the adults were volunteers who left at 3 pm each day, another was a staff member who left at 5 pm. Although not sufficient, staff and volunteers here clearly have a heart for these children.

On our first day the children were excited to see that they had visitors. I had intended to play games so that they would feel comfortable around us, but to my surprise the majority of them welcomed us instantly and started asking us questions and wanted to get to know us better. One of my favorite and most vivid moments was when I was photographing a group of children and a little 2 year old boy came up to me and held my hand tight not wanting me to let go of him. As I sat down he let go of my hand, smiled and leaned his head towards me and sat on my lap. It’s moments like these that make spending time with these children precious.

My time in Guadalajara was an eye opening, heartfelt, sentimental, and enjoyable experience. I am anxious to return to Casa Hogar to give the children brand new shoes and their photographs. I look forward to raising money to help these kids with the help from my fellow co-workers and friends. Next month I will set up a gallery of all the children photographed and give more information about how you can make a donation.