The Children of Villa Infantil
By Barbara Outland Baker
Some arrive at one-month-old; some at twelve. They might come bundled as three siblings rescued from the streets, or they might dribble in one by one. Relative to his or her pre-existing quality of life, each orphan has arrived through a gate to paradise. Their lives, now surrounded by love and acceptance, are dependent upon the donations of the generous, and they are maturely grateful.
According to Azucena, one of the older girls, the children take care of one another. With the three Sisters needing to multi-task every waking moment, the kids have learned how to make their sanctuary work for all. The older ones have learned how to follow the rules and teach the newer and younger ones how to get along for everyone’s sake. Azucena jokes that the girls are far better teachers than the boys; they make the best baby sitters for the toddlers, too!
Eleven-year-old Edgar arrived at Villa Infantil at five-months-old. Now an eleven-year-old, he serves as an acolyte, chosen by Padre Basilio, the priest who is key to the orphanage’s success. Edgar shared that the life of the church is a solid part of the children’s lives, from praying the rosary before Mass to taking Holy Communion starting around eight-years-old. He also enjoys playing the clarinet and Ukulele, and is studying music to fulfill future dreams. For all the boys, they mostly enjoy watching soccer on TV, but know that they must take turns choosing the program.
For the school-aged kids, their school day begins at 5:00 AM: they clean their rooms, brush their teeth, eat breakfast, and attend school. All students have their own donated materials, from backpacks to books, to paper and pencils. Once home, they do their homework, possibly with a Sister’s or visitor’s assistance. Going to public school provides a wonderful part of their day. All of the children take their education seriously and have career dreams. Nineteen-year old, Margarita, for example, just received her official acceptance into the psychology program at the Marist University of Guadalajara. She is a perfect role model for the younger children and a testimony to the coordinated efforts of the local schools and Villa Infantil.
Back at their home, however, the remaining after-school children must take on household duties. They tidy up the buildings through assigned jobs, always thoughtful about respecting one another’s small space. They do their laundry, polish their shoes, bathe in the afternoons, and may assist with cooking. While the thirty-eight children are normally polite and efficient with their chores, the Sisters might sometimes assign time-outs for the purpose of reflecting on their actions. Their surrogate mothers feel that it is important that the orphanage remains an environment that teaches cause and effect. The way of self-responsibility is the measure of getting along in this playground paradise.
Villa Infantil de Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe y San Jose, Highway to Morelia km 89 between San Pedro Tesistan & San Cristóbal, Mpio. de Jocotepec, Jal. Tel. (33) 1382-3014
Madre Paty, Cell. (333) 197-8665
Padre Basil Royston email@example.com