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Historic Roundhouse - 2003
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We will archive any features we publish on this site, so keep checking back to read all about the activities involving the Orphan Train Project.

 

 


 Archives:  2006-2005 |2004 | 2003 | 2002: July - Dec | 2002: Jan - June | 2001 | 2000    


        

ST. MARIA GORETTI TO SANTA MARIA DE JESUS WITH LOVE

One of the Orphan Train’s most active conductors is St. Maria Goretti School in Madison, Wisconsin. Each year, since the beginning of the Orphan Train Project, the children of St. Maria Goretti School spend spare time raising money for the needs of their friends abroad. Last June, the Madison West Towne Middleton Rotary Foundation, Inc. (Orphan Train Project sponsor) was presented with $2283.04, which again was used to help children living at Santa Maria de Jesus Home in Mazatenango, Guatemala. This year’s funds were used to buy, transport and install a commercial stove. The new stove replaces an older, and “high risk” piece of equipment.

 

Throughout the last school year, the children of St. Maria Goretti held fundraisers. In November, Orphan Train Intermediaries Frances and Mario Hernandez sent in numerous receipts and pictures. We are grateful to the students, faculty and staff of St. Maria Goretti for demonstrating the importance of goodwill and understanding amongst peoples of the world.

 

After acknowledging the receipt of funds, Mr. and Mrs. Hernandez of the Fundaninas organization, responsible for Santa Maria de Jesus wrote:

 

 

“On behalf of the Hogar “Santa Maria de Jesus,” once again thanks a million to our friends, the children of St. Maria Goretti.”
Mario Hernandez


11/14/03

 


 

 

  ROTARY CHILDREN’S FUND & WASHING MACHINES FOR STA. TERESITA

 

The Rotary Children’s Fund of Ohio recently spent $2200 to purchase five washing machines for Santa Teresita Orphanage in Tingo Maria, Peru. The Rotary Children’s Fund also works with another orphanage in Bulgaria. Orphan Train Conductor Sister Mary Ann Leininger handled the translations, purchases and accounting. She also arranged for the pictures to be taken. Pictures include a ribbon cutting ceremony, a blessing of the machines and the joyful presence of the children who will benefit. The Orphan Train Project everyone who had a part in making this event occur. What follows is a letter of appreciation.

 

September 6, 2003

 

Officio_471-03 HPN INABIF-HUANUCO

 

MR. JOHN WEEDON

 

ROTARY CHILDREN FUND LAKEWOOD / ROCKY RIVER, OHIO

 

DEAR JOHN AND ROTARY MEMBERS

 

GREETINGS FROM PERU! BEFORE COMMENTING ON THE DETAILS OF THE GENEROUS DONATION TO THE HOGAR STA. TERESITA IN TINGO MARIA, I JUST WANT TO SAY THAT YOU HAVE MADE A LOT OF PEOPLE REALLY HAPPY AND THE WORK LOAD IS MUCH LIGHTER. I DOUBT THAT THOSE FIVE WASHING MACHINES WILL EVER LOSE THEIR NOVELTY.

 

I AM AWARE THAT THIS DONATION IS THE RESULT OF MANY GENEROUS PERSONS AND HOPEFULLY THE PHOTOS CONVEY THE GRATITUDE AND EXCITEMENT OF EVERYONE AT THE HOGAR STA. TERESITA.

 

ENCLOSED IN THIS MAILING YOU WILL FIND:

  • A LETTER TO THE CENTRAL OFFICE OF INABIF IN LIMA
  • THE RECEIPTS OF THE PURCHASE
  • THE INVENTORY REGISTRATION IN THE HOGAR
  • PICTURES AND A THANK YOU POSTER

MAY GOD BLESS YOU, YOUR FAMILIES, AND THE EFFORTS OF ROTARY TO CONTRIBUTE TO A SAFE AND HAPPY ENVIRONMENT FOR CHILDREN.

 

SINCERELY,

 

SR. MARY ANN LEININGER

 

 

 


 

 

ROTARY CLUB OF HENNIKER, NH CHINESE CHILDREN

 

The Rotary Club of Henniker, New Hampshire has been helping support a group foster home affiliated with Shenyang Orphanage in Shenyang City, located in the Peoples Republic of China. Group foster care makes it possible for the children to be closer to their school and medical assistance. The Rotary Club’s contributions got the home up and running, bought formula, clothing, etc. This past Rotary year has been the Henniker Club’s second year of funding.  The children in the foster care group home are both boys and girls, which may surprise people. Not just girl babies are abandoned or sent to orphanages in China. Any child with some type of imperfection or disability will often wind up being relinquished by their parents.

 

One of the people instrumental in putting together the relationship between the Rotary Club of Henniker and the little ones in Shenyang was Rotarian Ruth Zax. According to Zax, her “original goal was to involve the Club and maybe the community more in providing tangible things for these children, but we found that it was difficult to convey to the director what we hoped to accomplish and her requests were infrequent.”

 

As it does at the start of each Rotary year, the Rotary Club of Henniker will look at the Shenyang activity and others for possible inclusion in this year’s plan of action. Chief correspondent for the project was Rotarian Janice McElroy. The Orphan Train Intermediary in China for the Henniker Rotarians is Paula Umshied. Another contact in China is Karen Friedman, a woman who does adoption studies for Americans living in China and wishing to adopt.

 

Letters sent to Club member Janice McElroy, from Paula Umshied, follow.

 

May 28, 2003

 

Thank you for persevering Janice. You should be receiving the photos soon. 

We also wish you a beautiful spring.  Here are a few photos for your enjoyment.  I took some little plants to the Foster Care Children as a Happy Spring gift.  These are the photos that turned out best. They have never raised a plant before. They were very appreciative.  They are so sweet.   And many Blessings  

 

Paula Umscheid

 

May 29, 2003

 

Dear Janice,

 

Thank you for notifying us of this.  I have been back in China now for about one month. All is well in the orphanage and in our Foster Care Home.  The children are doing beautifully.

 

I am attaching some simply photos here.  I am sorry that my camera is not very clear.  I will send some real prints this week.  Did you receive our report in the plastic portfolio with the text reports, photos of Foster Care kids, and accounting report?  We sent it late last fall.  I do not recall hearing back from you regarding receiving it.  I left China in October and was gone for six months.    If you did not I will make another copy and send you another.  I will ask the accountants tomorrow for the copies of receipts for $500 and send those to you with the real photos taken recently.

 

Thank you so very much for continuing to be such a blessing.  Please give our very warm "Thank-You" to Henniker Rotary.

 

Many Thanks

 

Paula Umscheid

 

July 31, 2003 (Contributions to this article by Ruth Zax)

 


Lau Hu

Lili

Da Bao





WISCONSIN ROTARIANS VISIT ROMANIA
by Lou Mindar

It started out innocently enough. Viroqua Rotarian Lou Mindar was at a District 6250 conference and sat in on a presentation being given by Orphan Train Chairman Ed Fink. After Ed’s presentation, Lou asked him if he had any orphanages in Romania that needed help. Ed told Lou that no orphanages in Romania were part of the Orphan Train program, but he encouraged Lou’s club to consider sponsoring an orphanage in Guatemala or Bulgaria.

 

Just a few days later, Ed received information from Rotarian and Peace Corp volunteer Mary Cobb Dunn about an orphanage in the Romanian countryside that needed help. Ed passed the information on to Lou, and the Viroqua Area Rotary Club in Viroqua, WI has been supporting Forget Me Not House orphanage in Cudalbi, Romania ever since.

 

If the story ended there, it would still be a happy story, but the story is far from over. In March 2003 Dr. Anna Burtea and Dana Ariton, the program director and executive director respectively of Heart of A Child Foundation, the organization that operates Forget Me Not House orphanage, visited the U.S. In addition to receiving training at Mooseheart in Illinois, Anna and Dana visited with Rotarians in Viroqua and Madison.

 

Those visits resulted in members from the Viroqua Area Rotary Club and the Madison West Towne-Middleton Rotary Club traveling to Romania in June to set the groundwork for building a new orphanage building for Forget Me Not House. The Rotarian’s trip was partially funded by a Discovery Grant from Rotary International.

 

“Forget Me Not House is actually three small buildings that make up the orphanage,” Mindar said after returning from Romania. “The orphanage is in a very rural community that offers very few services that are needed by the kids living at Forget Me Not House. In addition, the orphanage only has access to potable water two hours a day. The kids deserve better, and we want to help get it for them.”

 

During their trip, Rotarians Rachelle Richardson, Larry Pinger, Mindar and his wife Kim, visited homes operated by Heart of a Child for children with HIV/AIDS as well as mental and physical handicaps. They also met with members of the Rotary Club of Braila (Romania) who will be assisting with the efforts to build news buildings for Forget Me Not House.

 

The plan calls for the purchase of property and then the construction of three group homes and a kitchen facility to replace the current buildings housing children at Forget Me Not House. “That’s the first phase of our plans,” said Mindar. “The need for new housing is pressing, so we hope to complete phase one as soon as possible. But there is much more we hope to do. After just one visit with these great kids, we want to give them the world.”

 

The trip to Romania was a great first step in what everyone involved hopes will be a successful project. “We owe a debt of gratitude to the Orphan Train project as well as Rotary International for giving us the opportunity to help the Children of Galati County, Romania,” Mindar said. “Without their help, we wouldn’t have the tools we need to participate in this project.”

 

6/24/03

 

Children of Forget Me Not House


 






Photos by Larry Pinger

 


ROMANIANS VISIT MOOSEHEART AND WISCONSIN

Daniela "Dana" Ariton and Dr. Anna Burtea, President and Vice-President of the Heart of a Child Foundation in Cudalbi Village, Galati County Romania, arrived in the United States on March 1st and returned to Romania on March 31st. Dana and Anna were guests of the Rotary Orphan Train Project, the Rotary Club of Madison West Towne-Middleton (Wisconsin), Mooseheart and the Rotary Club of Viroqua (Wisconsin). The primary purpose of the trip was to learn childcare methods used by Mooseheart and to obtain information on other methods of care. Dana and Anna’s hosts hoped to learn more about Romania and the children institutionalized in that country. For all people involved in the visit, it was an opportunity for a wonderful cultural exchange.

 

Heart of a Child Foundation operates ten programs, some being the orphanage known as "Forget Me Not House," AIDS homes, help for street children, deinstitutionalization of handicapped children, family reintegration, abandonment prevention.

 

While in the States, Dana and Anna took two weeks of training in the "Family Teacher Program" at Mooseheart, the famed "Child City" in Illinois. Their primary instructor at Mooseheart was Beth Littrell.

 

The Mooseheart approach is very similar to one at Boys Town/Girls Town, upon which it is based. After finishing the training at Mooseheart, Dana and Anna visited Wisconsin. In the Madison area, various members of the Rotary Club of Madison West Towne-Middleton, the Rotary Club of Oregon, the Rotary Club of Madison South, Madison Central Lions and the Beaver Dam Lions facilitated visits to programs and activities involving children, as well as more recreational, historic and scenic activities. In addition to time in the Madison area, Dana and Anna spent several days with the Rotary Club of Viroqua, Wisconsin, “and conductor” on the Orphan Train Project for Forget Me Not House. While in Viroqua, the Rotarians there showed them a variety of things as well.

 

A partial list of places, events and experts visited include the following:

  • Preschool of the Arts, a Madison daycare facility fashioned after an Italian model for including the arts in teaching young children;
  • Wisconsin High School Girls Basketball Tournament;
  • Centro Guadalupano (a gathering place in Madison where newly arrived people from Hispanic countries can learn English, computer and other skills, while socializing with others);
  • University of Wisconsin Children’s Hospital;
  • Ronald McDonald House, where parents of sick children are able to stay while they youngsters are undergoing treatment at the UW Children’s Hospital or at other area hospitals;
  • Visit to construction site to see what techniques might be taught to vocational students in Romania;
  • Visit to Three Gaits Riding Academy, where handicapped youngsters are taught how to ride horses;
  • Dane County Transitional School in Madison, a program for children having difficulty in the standard school setting;
  • Dane County Boys and Girls Club, offering a variety of youth programs for the hours after school, weekends and summers;
  • Green Valley in Beaver Dam, Wisconsin, offering employment opportunities for the handicapped;
  • Discussion time with Dr. Seth Pollak, a University of Wisconsin Psychologist, who has studied adopted children from Romania, Russia and Bulgaria;
  • Discussion time with therapist Nancy Young of the Mental Health Service for Women and Families concerning family counseling issues;
  • Discussion time with psychologist Gail Brown concerning the OASIS program and how it helps children and families affected by child sexual abuse;
  • St. Mary’s Health Care Center for the elderly;
  • Eagles Wing Preschool;
  • Viroqua area schools;
  • Vernon Area Rehabilitation Center;
  • Lifelink International Adoption Agency;
  • Coulee CAP program;
  • Reception and presentation to Rotary Club of Viroqua;
  • Presentation to the Rotary Club of Madison West Towne-Middleton;
  • Visit with Tom Wildt of St. Charles Youth and Family Services of Milwaukee about “Treatment Foster Care.”
  • Visit to Madison Area sites, e.g. State Capitol Building, State Street, the University of Wisconsin and Monona Terrace;
  • Visit churches of various faiths; and
  • Travel through the picturesque farmland of Vernon County.

The Orphan Train Project is grateful to the many people who made Anna and Dana’s visit to Illinois and Wisconsin special. We estimate that more than forty people provided meals, ideas, information, housing, transportation, instruction and cultural enrichment. We are grateful to each and every one.

Sometimes in life you encounter people whose dedication to others is beyond comprehension. Daniela Ariton and Anna Burtea left us all with a sense of awe!

 

April 1, 2003

 

Faces of Madison


 


(L to R) PreSchool of the Arts Director Becky Van Houten, Mark and Beth Littrell (Mooseheart), Daniela Ariton, Dr. Anna Burtea an OT's Ed Fink

At Wisconsin High School Girls Basketball Tourney

Sharing Cultures at Centro Guadalupano in Madison

Anna, Rotarian Stuart Herro and Dana at Centro Guadalupano

"Dana" Ariton, Barbara Behren (Clinical Director UW Children's Hospital) and Dr. Anna Burtea

Dr. Burtea and bed at UW Children's Hospital

Madison's Ronald Mc Donald House for visiting families of sick children

Dana and Anna are house guests of Rotarian Rachelle Richardson

MWTM Rotary Pres. Deb Dieter (seated) with Diane Fink, Rachelle, Anna and Dana

Dana and Anna present Ed Fink with train made by Romanian children

Dana and Anna with Rotary and Other Madison Hosts

Dana and Anna with Rotary District Governor Perry Henderson

Dana, Tom Wildt of St. Charles of Milwaukee and Anna
     


 MARSHFIELD SUNRISE PROVIDES SHOES


Orphan Train Intermediary Sylvia Marinova sent the following letter to Dr. Rick Mueller of the Rotary Club of Marshfield Sunrise. It is typical of the good work done by the volunteers who serve as intermediaries. (Editor’s Note: The receipts, in Bulgarian, are not included with this article, though they were received by the Orphan Train Project).
 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dear Mr. Mueller,

 

Herewith I would like to send to you the paperwork of your extremely generous donation to the orphans at Ivan Kjulev Orphanage in the town of Gotze Delchev, Bulgaria.

 

Here is the financial part:

 

$250.00- your donation
bank rate: 1.67BGLevs/USD on 05/22/2003

417.50 BG levs Donation
438.00 BG levs Spent ( Invoice # 218/27.05.2003)
-------------------------------------------------------------
-20.50         Sports shoes shop donation

 

As per the request of the director of the orphanage the money were spent on purchasing sports shoes for 43 boys and girls. He sent an accurate list with information on size, gender and quantity. The children and the staff taking care of them were very happy to receive The Gift. Thank you enormously for your kind generosity on their behalf.
The kids in this orphanage are really special and they do deserve and appreciate such efforts.
The orphanage is located in the center of the town of Gotze Delchev and the children are not deprived of social contacts.
The staff, taking care of the children is incredible. These are very devoted people.
I had the opportunity to talk with them and with the children.
The number of teenagers graduating school this year is 5. On the last picture you'll see one of them (Krassi) with the accountant of the orphanage (Penka). The boy wants to apply in a University in Blagoevgrad and we talked about different options.

Attached to this e-mail you will find the Certificate for receiving the donation from the Orphanage; Invoice # 218/27.05.2003 and photos. I am sending the materials to you by post. Please let me know if you have any questions!

 

I am really honored for being part of this project.

 

With best wishes,
Sylvia
Sylvia Marinova


 

ORPHAN TRAIN PROJECT TRIP TO PERU
By Glenn Koepp
Project Coordinator
Member - Rotary Club of Madison West Towne-Middleton

 

 

Peru was recently added to the list of countries with orphanages receiving support through efforts of the Orphan Train (OT) Project team members. This small group of volunteers from the Rotary Club of Madison West Towne-Middleton strives to encourage service clubs, schools, businesses, and other groups of people to donate money and goods to help improve the lives of orphans.

 

Making the OT Project successful often requires personal visits to orphanages to document their needs, establish connections with local intermediaries, and verify that previous donations were used as intended. In April 2003, four OT Project volunteers, Jeannine Desautels, Vergie Schulte, Glenn Koepp and Jeanne Koepp, visited four orphanages in Peru.

 

The orphanages visited included San Juan Bosco and Inabif in Huanuco, Santa Teresita in Tingo Maria, and Hogar Juan Pablo II in Lurin. Each orphanage housed between 50 and 80 orphans between the ages of 3 and 17.

 

Visiting these orphanages in a limited amount of time required hiring a driver and translator, traveling more than 730 miles by van, and crossing the Andes Mountains at 16,000 feet elevation two times! The scenery was awesome but the mountainous roads were often a challenge. Vehicles had to drive within a few feet of vertical drops of several hundred feet, with no guardrails! Several sections of road, which had washed out during the fall rains, were still being repaired. Truck drivers even stopped to ask us if the road behind us was open!

 

Since starting the OT Project in 1997, team members have "matched" more than 40 orphanages in 9 countries with over 50 service clubs, schools and businesses. Hundreds of people have willingly donated their time and money to help improve the lives of these orphans. In the past 6 years the OT Project has raised nearly $300,000 which has been given directly to the orphanages. In addition, OT volunteers have contributed countless hours and more than $90,000 of their own money to travel to Bulgaria, Romania, Guatemala, and Peru to visit orphanages and promote the Orphan Train Project.

 

May 31, 2003

 

INABIF

SAN JUAN BOSCO

SANTA TERESITA



MI CASA RECEIVES SHOES FROM PAT ROGANMI CASA RECEIVES SHOES FROM PAT ROGAN 

 

 

 

 

 

Pat Rogan of Rogan Shoes, Madison, Wisconsin, purchased and shipped 3000 pairs of shoes to Mi Casa, an orphanage in Guatemala City. This was previously reported in January on the Whistle Stops page. We are happy to report that the gift has arrived.

 

The Orphan Train Project and Mi Casa are grateful for the generosity of Pat Rogan and Rogan's Shoes, our "Special Conductor for Shoes." Thanks Pat!! 5/21/03

 

 


 

 

 

 SANTA MARIA DE JESUS THANKS ST. MARIA GORETTI SCHOOL

 

 

Last June, we reported that St. Maria Goretti School, of Madison, Wisconsin, donated $2794.71 to help their friends at the children's home in Mazatenango, Guatemala, known as Santa Maria de Jesus. The Orphan Train Project has received an accounting for the expenditures, along with pictures and a letter of thanks. The letter, addressed to St. Maria Goretti School, the Orphan Train Project and the Rotary Club of Madison West Towne-Middleton read as follows:

Please accept the expressions of our gratitude and joy for your generosity in providing us with these resources: The chicken processing unit (to alleviate our work); the painting of our buildings (to enhance our environment); and the piano (to cheer our souls). We, the girls in the Hogar Santa Maria de Jesus are 37 now (April 2003).


The girls of Santa Maria de Jesus

Opening the gift from St. Maria Goretti Children

Madre Celina plays the first song

Orphan Train Intermediary Frances Hernandez and Madre Celina are delighted

PAINTING


Preparation for painting

160 inches of rain brings lichens and smudge

Green paint gives a new look

Newly painted Reception Building and Dining Room

CHICKEN PROCESSING


Processing chickens before donation

New reinforced concrete bench with 8 faucets

Better working conditions


Aury, Elly and Claudia Say Thank You St. Maria Goretti

Orphan Train Intermediary Frances de Hernandez (far right) speaks to girls


VILLAGE OF SAN JUAN BOSCO HELPED BY MADISONIANS

 

 

 

 

For many of us born in North America, a healthy water supply and the availability of learning materials, including books, is taken for granted. We all know that this is not the case everywhere in the world. As previously reported on the Whistle Stops page of the website, the Burish Family Charity of Madison, Wisconsin has become a conductor on the Orphan Train for San Juan Bosco Orphanage in Peru. The $2500 given by the Andrew Burish Family will be used to improve the well and water facilities in the Village of San Juan Bosco, located near Huanuco. Funds not used to improve the supply and flow of healthy water will be used to start a library. Pictures of the current water situation, and other pictures from the orphanage, are shown below.
The Village of San Juan Bosco is home to 60 boys and girls. The director and founder of this orphanage village is Father Oswaldo Rodriquez Martinez. Our Orphan Train intermediary is Sister Mary Ann Leininger, a nun from California, who has been working in Peru for more than 32 years. She herself directs a government-sponsored orphanage in Huanuco.

 

During the decade of the eighties, drug trafficking and terrorism reached its peak in Huanuco, causing an increase of poverty, massive displacement of families, death and destruction. In a 2001 national census, Huanuco was determined to be the second poorest of the 24 departments of Peru. While the national average of children with nutritional problems is 25.4%, the number in Huanuco is an alarming 42.8%.

 

Father Oswaldo, starting as a parish priest, created a lunch program for children who were working in the streets. Later, he extended the program to include orphans and those in extreme need. Eventually, this program was serving 300 children per day.

 

When Father Oswaldo became the principal of one of the well-known schools in Huanuco, he created a space for street children to sleep at night at his school. This place became known as Nazareth House.

 

In 1993, the children's Village of San Juan Bosco was opened at its present location with donations from institutions and generous individuals. The village receives a very small monthly budget from the City of Huanuco, which pays for the basic necessities and some personnel.

 

Most of the children at the Village of San Juan Bosco are there because the Shining Path and/or the military either killed their parents during the political violence. Some have parents who are in jail serving very long sentences, while others come from environments of extreme poverty, child abuse, etc. Father Oswaldo started the village 12 years ago.

 

In the near future, an Orphan Train team hopes to visit the Village of San Juan Bosco. 2/26/03

 

 


 

 

 ROTARACT CLUB OF EDGEWOOD COLLEGE TAKES ON PERU

 

 

 

From climbing the steps of the ancient city of Maccu Piccu high in the Andes to delighting in the spirit filled faces of orphaned children living in the depths of poverty, five members of Edgewood College Rotaract had their hearts touched and perspectives of the world challenged and expanded in Peru, January 2003.

 

The Rotaract, sponsored by the Madison West Towne-Middleton Rotary, is a service-based organization for students between the ages of 18 and 30. In its efforts to craft service projects aimed toward global neighbors, the members of Rotaract fundraised $1,600 for their travel expenses, and gathered clothing and toys to donate to a Lima orphanage through a local Madison Girl Scout Troop.

As an Oshkosh Rotary exchange student to Lima last year, I witnessed first-hand the immense poverty, but stark beauty, rich culture and sense of national spirit that hails the country. Amidst my experiences, I became inspired to come back to the Edgewood college community and induce others to act and invoke an equal sense of passion, commitment and drive to help the project.
I stumbled upon Rotaract, in my efforts to raise funds for the building of a new girls dorm for the La Sagrada Orphanage (The Sacred Family), in Lima, Peru. Seeing in it a natural extension and great conduit for the work that Rotary was doing with the orphanage. This past fall, Rotaract became officially chartered at Edgewood.

 

I was moved and inspired to action by the orphanage that is a community that embraces you like one of their own. It's a place of love, compassion and selflessness despite the fact that it is hidden among the slums of northern Lima, with streets filled with uncollected garbage and hills dotted by one-room shacks.

 

The man at the center of this unseemly haven, Miguel Rodriquez, has since 1988 been the father figure to the 635 orphans he has taken in from the streets of Lima; an action incurred after the death of his infant son.

 

During my visit last year, I was able to witness first hand the environment of children who were given a second chance at a new and better life, with a loving caregiver. I had never before interacted with such well adjusted, intelligent children who unabashedly give out kisses and hugs.

 

Rodriquez, I discovered was a man that could be equated to Mother Theresa, who gave up a life of affluence for a life of dedication and commitment to the poorest of the poor, the orphans that make up the streets.

 

Sadly, however, a week after I left the orphanage, Rodriquez was sent into recluse due to various health problems and was absent for close to a year. While gone, the 250 children that were there during my first visit had dwindled to 95. Upon Rodriquez's return, he has once again re-established himself in the lives of the children, and has gone back into the streets and revamped the number back to close to 200.

 

Given the events of the turbulent year at the orphanage, my visit with Rotaract this year came with new appreciation and awe for the children and for Rodriquez. I found him in fine spirits, good health and he was the same loving, caring man that I first became inspired by.

 

I caught tears in my throat, when to my surprise I walked into a room full of children the day that Rotaract visited, and my ears were greeted by the gleeful sounds of my name. I had briefly forgotten what a roomful of children can do to the heart, of what the feeling of joy is like, as one is dragged by little hands that reach up to stop your retreat.

 

Looking over the sea of children, whose eyes were filled with love I was touched at the thought that most of these children had come from broken pasts. Yet, due to the actions of one man, these children were given the opportunity to trust, overcome huge obstacles and thrive. The children's unconditional love and genuine excitement over our presence and gifts made me re-evaluate where I derive meaning from.

 

In the core of my experience, I was reminded to take a greater appreciation for all that we are blessed to have on a daily basis. Of how a simple interaction that profoundly changed my life the year before could have such a lasting affect on the children.


While the orphanage experience proved to be the focal point and dramatic eye opener that brought about a sense of self-evaluation, Rotaract, in addition, visited several of the Lima EIGER (International School of General Studies) branches. It was here that we were thrust in front of classrooms in order to converse with students, answer questions about the U.S. and deliver school supplies.

 

Most of the EIGER students come from low-income backgrounds, and pay only $25 a semester. They attend classes with rudimentary equipment, such as benches and only the simplest black board in classrooms that are by American standards, loud, stuffy and crude. Thus, an interaction with native English speakers is needed and highly desired, so as to give them real world practice and hands on experience.

 

In addition to Rotaract's service mission, the opportunity to fully experience the country and its culture was not lost. The group went on the road, on a tour that took us from the high altitude of the The Colca Canyon, to Cusco to explore the ancient Inca ruins of Maccu Piccu and the Sacred Valley.

 

For Rotaract members, amidst adventures of new food, meeting travelers around the world, and soaking up the beauty of the landscape, came a new understanding and appreciation.
But the true summation that encapsulated the meaning of the trip was what Rodriquez said, "looking at the smiles of children, is like looking into the face of God."

 

(Editor's Note: The author, Jessica Benton Cooney, is a senior at Edgewood College in Madison, Wisconsin and charter president of the Rotaract Club of Edgewood College. She led a group of fellow students on the described journey to Peru. The Rotaract Club of Edgewood College is a "conductor on the Orphan Train Project for La Sagrada Orphanage in Lima Peru). 1/23/03

 

ROTARY ORPHAN TRAIN BRINGS CHICKENS AND CHILDREN TOGETHER

 

 

January 21, 2002
To: Ed Fink
Orphan Train Project

 

Ed,

 

Thank you for your Christmas greetings. I shared them with the Sisters and the girls.
They are always pleased to know that folks are thinking of them. We have been extremely busy with the chicken and rabbit project. We are off and running. The donations arrived with perfect timing for us. Because we had started the building foundation, from there it was easy. With some volunteers and a brick mason, we finished the house within a week. We bought three types of hens: to fatten, to lay eggs, and chicks to grow. In the photos you can see the small chicks running around,the first hens to be slaughtered and the installation. As we are now improving new photos will be on their way soon.

 

The rabbit hutches had a tragedy. While we were finishing the hutches the rabbits were being kept in a small pen and a dog got them. Thank goodness the girls had already sold all but three, and so the loss was minimal (all but the heart break). Our expert said it would be best to start with young rabbits to put in the cages; because ours had been running loose with out confinement and they might eat the young if we changed them to cages. Now, we are awaiting the new arrivals. I never thought the girls would like this project but they truly love this new work. They not only feel accomplished in everything they have learned but are fascinated by the financial reward for their labor.

 

The few chickens they killed were for the Christmas party. All the girls and the Sisters were so proud that for the First time they grew and prepared an entire meal for themselves. The vegetables were perfect, the roasted chicken delicious, and they even served deviled eggs! The rest of the meal was paid for by the moneys they collected through selling the rabbits, chickens, and eggs. It is truly amazing to know that given the opportunity these Girls are going to succeed!

Now, school has started here and the needs are many, since the 'Board' does not believe in educating these young ladies. But, I do believe if we get through these two months the 'farm project' will be able to sustain the monthly educational needs for every girl. So, we are all sending you a hug and a big thank you for your hard work and generosity. You are making dreams come true.
Much more later.
Thank you,

 

Dana Mannen
The Sisters and the Girls of Hogar Divina Providencia

 

(Editor's Note: The foregoing and following messages are from Dana Mannen, our Orphan Train intermediary in Quetzaltenango. The regular conductors for this home are Ridgeway Elementary and the Dodgeville Kiwanis, whose funds along with money from Andrew Burish, benefited this and other projects at Quetzaltenango).

 

January 28, 2002

 

Ed,

 

About the donations:
So far a total of $664.86 has been spent on the chicken & rabbit coop.
$321.45 spent on encyclopedias, enter active cd-rom educational center. Sister Berta found the publisher and explained the homes situation and for the price of one edition they received 4 complete editions, up-dates for 20 years, not just an entire educational program but also arts and crafts, cooking, medical library, music lessons and many more books. Since the purchase; for Christmas the girls received a box full of short novels and stories from the publisher.
$122.00 on Christmas presents. Every girl received a backpack for school, purse, and small goodies such as beanie baby, hair stuff, candies, plus we had cake and fresh milk (a true luxury).
That leaves us with a balance of $124.29 still in the bank. We are to receive some chickens, rabbits and turkeys the first week of February for the coop. If these animals come we will need some of the money mentioned above for vaccinations. Otherwise, if you have any suggestions for the other $100.00 just let us know.
Every letter you write is shared with the home. They love to hear that someone out there cares.
We do have a lot going on down here these days but I will be in touch with more photos and stories from the Home.

 

Thank you,

 

Dana Mannen

 


First Chicks

23 Dec, Working with Chickens

24 Dec, Preparing the Chickens