“A smile costs nothing, but gives much-
It takes but a moment, but the memory of it usually lasts forever.
None are so rich that can get along without it-
And none are so poor but that can be made rich by it.
It enriches those who receive, without making poor those who give-
It creates sunshine in the home,
Fosters good will in business,
And is the best antidote for trouble-
And yet it cannot be begged, borrowed, or stolen, for it is of no value
Unless it is given away.” – Anonymous
Last Saturday, Nov. 10, UAM’s DO! student association in collaboration with OrphaNetwork visited the Brazos de Amor orphanage in Jinotepe, for the first time. Before we even got to meet the kids, we were offered a tour around the property. Walking around, it was a pleasant surprise to see how my expectations of a dusty and sad place were replaced by the reality of a vibrant, heartwarming, and welcoming environment.
The air was cool and refreshing, unlike Managua. A beautiful view was provided from one of the buildings, and the children smiled with sparkling and curious eyes as we walked by them.
Once we finished our tour around the property, we gathered the kids for our first activity: an interactive game to help us get to know them and encourage their trust. As the activities progressed, we noticed them losing their reservations and approaching us more confidently. We got to know a lot about them: their favorite colors, what they like to do, what animals they like, and whether they root for Barcelona or Madrid.
They got to know us as well. Once we finished introducing each other, we got divided into several groups based on the activities the kids wanted to play. On one side, the boys formed teams and played soccer, while another group started coed games volleyball and tag, or sat to talk about the TV series Vampire Diaries, which, we found out, is a house favorite.
We were pleasantly surprised to encounter such happy and lively kids who we could get along with easily. And we were even more surprised to see how they warmed up to us on our very first visit. Once we left the orphanage, we really felt like we were leaving new friends behind.
The experience was, without shadow of a doubt, one of the most rewarding and fulfilling we have had. It was an afternoon spent between fun and games and getting to know the children a little better; by the end of the visit, we had learned most of their names and they had learned ours. It is an understatement to say time passed quickly; when we realized we had to go, it was well after the time we had intended to leave. With some final words from each member of the student association and some of the braver kids, we parted with the promise to return and the eagerness to do so.
We can happily say that this weekend outing proved to be a milestone to our ultimate goal to introduce Bibloko as a tool for learning and fomenting thought development. Getting to know these wonderful children, in a sense, will help us achieve our goal of contributing to their education, which is the only real patrimony any person could hope to leave to another. Not only that, we are also certain that we will be learning a lot from them as well, including experiences about life such as being grateful and being genuinely happy with what we have.
Last but not least, we would like to give a special shout out and thanks to Alvaro Rivas for allowing us to visit Brazos de Amor and for guiding us the entire way. Also thanks to the staff of that wonderful place, for motivating us to interact with the children and encouraging us to be a positive role model in their lives.
Adriana Díaz and Zenelia Boza are Nicaraguan university students at the Universidad Americana’s College of University Studies in English (UAM-CUSE). www.nicaraguasevistedeverde.blogspot.com