Core Volunteers Of Villa Infantil
“Sisters, I must tell you, the kids are thieves,” Pete shared.
“Oh, no, what is it?” Sister Blanca asked.
“I tell you, Sister, those orphans have stolen my heart.”
Pete Jarveis and his wife Julie are an integral part of the Volunteers at Villa Infantil. They learned of the orphanage through their parish, San Andrés, Ajijic. They, plus others, have gathered together to become an important part of the Villa.
The generosity of benefactors was witnessed after fire and flood threatened the property’s boundaries. The Sisters prioritized the need to complete the security wall along the southern perimeter. To complete the half-finished wall, 83 new panels needed to be constructed at 3000 pesos each. Within six months, the project was done, thanks to donations from as far away as Australia and Zimbabwe and many stops in between. Another example of generosity has been that of Enrique Roviroso and the franchisees of FreshSalads. They met the Villa’s need for a humble car by delivering a Hyundai sedan filled with useful supplies.
Food is an endless requirement, of course. Enter the Tuesday Organic Market: Peter and Georgina donate their excess baked goods weekly; Greg Ochs with Green Go Farms contributes bundles of fresh lettuces; and Perry’s Pizza gives pizza discounts and frequent pizzas to the grateful thirty-two children.
Pete has found his niche in organizing the maintenance of this blessed home, having recruited his ironworker friend, Manuel Castaneda. Their weekly visits handle whatever projects might await them. Every Thursday the kids know to expect this softy and his sidekick. As he gets out of the truck, Pete is swarmed with this pack of “love-thieves.” The kids each vie to be the first to claim his hugs. They crave Pete’s open arms, competing to be held and to rest their heads on his shoulder. The little girls, in particular, love to cuddle up to him, simply to enjoy a moment’s human touch. Then suddenly each runs off, satiated by this magical exchange of heart.
Then the two handymen begin the day’s projects. This could range from broken toilets to hanging lights, or replacing light bulbs. While the Sisters may have spotted repair needs, Pete is ever proactive, playing sleuth to faucets and drains, furniture and toys. He and Manuel fix whatever is broken, with Pete often digging deeply into his own pockets. They always sense the gawking eyes of those who have never seen drill bits or safe, sealed lights. Sometimes Pete might have to teach safety tips to a curious child or “employ” an interested child for a treat of 20 pesos to be spent on after-school treats.
If needing a break, the men will reenergize themselves by playing with the kids. Both men and children might run around playing tag or they kick around a tired, old soccer ball. Both adult and child might compete on the swings to see who can soar the highest. Pete knows he will lose the uplifting event, happily recalling a competitor who yelled out to the gravity-prone man, “Come on, Baby!” Despite her English cheerleading, Pete still lost, as always.
They do learn English rapidly, kids that they are. They love mimicking their expat visitors. And, during their homework time, they enjoy reading from their readers for guests. Most of the time, they are simply tender, innocent messengers, inadvertently teaching patience, gratitude, loyalty and love to volunteers like Pete. Now, if only it didn’t take him a half-an-hour to high-five and hug his way to the car, he might have more time to recruit other generous souls wanting to have their hearts stolen as well.
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