Written by Tara Euler, Santiago Partnership Board Member
I was so fortunate to be able to attend the Casa Hogar one year anniversary this past week. It is almost hard to believe that from the opening last June, this beautiful house is now home to 17 children. There were presentations, food and music, but the stars of the day were the kids. It is a credit to all involved that this is not just a roof over their heads and food to eat. These children now have an extended family who love and care for them. From the house parents and employees of the home to the neighbors from the local church; Iglesia Emanuel and community, local law enforcement and government and medical staff of the Centro Medico Emanuel; everyone is a member of their family.
There is no shortage of hugs and smiles. The children are making strides in all areas of their lives. One thing that struck me in particular was the dance and music presentations. In order for children to express their talents in this area, their other needs must be met. A child who is hungry cannot dance. A child who lives in fear does not sing. The community has come together to welcome these children as their own. Children of staff members become sisters to the girls at the home. Boys become the sons of the local pastors and staff. These children now have someone to look up to, someone to model their own lives after.
With these relationships come hope for for their futures. A child from an abusive home now sees a father who does not hit, who does not scold but supports and encourages. A young woman experiences relationships with adults who are not looking to take anything from her, but to give to her unconditional love and support. She experiences, perhaps for the first time, a place where she can learn to live as a young woman who deserves love and respect because she is a child of God. A child from a home dominated by substance abuse now sees adults who are there every day and are the people who take care of their basic needs so that they can begin to learn. Some of these children are attending school for the very first time in their lives. They are able to be “normal” kids.
I am so very thankful to be a small part of this project. I am proud to be associated with the Santiago Partnership – an international partnership of people who care. This home has been carefully thought out from the beginning, anticipating and responding to the needs of these children. The children have access to psychologists, social workers, tutors, medical care and schooling. The impact of Casa Hogar goes beyond the children who live there, it impacts their families and helps to strengthen the broader community. So, celebrate with me the one year anniversary of Casa Hogar!