Guadalajara’s Hogar de Niños
by Karen Gleason –
When New Frontier editors found out that Graphic Designer Ignacio Villamar would be home with his family in Mexico during the Christmas holiday, they saw an opportunity to share with readers some of The Salvation Army’s work there.
In Guadalajara, Ignacio visited The Children’s Home, Hogar de Niños, which is home to about 50 children ages 4-18. The children come from orphanages, broken homes and extremely poor families who cannot support them. Here they receive proper nutrition, education and health care. Equally important, they stay out of trouble, build a future for themselves, and develop a relationship with God.
Majors Eliseo and Ruth Sanchez are directors of The Children’s Home, which is the only such Salvation Army facility in Guadalajara. Sanchez explained that the Army’s work there is important both to society in general and to each child in particular: “We keep the kids from becoming street people.”
Although the staff and the children knew what day Ignacio would visit, they did not know exactly what time he would come. When he arrived, a group of children were outside the home cleaning up, dressed in old clothes. They were excited to see Ignacio and wanted to make a good impression. They immediately went inside to clean up and change into their uniforms, even though Ignacio told them “you don’t have to do that!”
The facility, which includes a library, was very clean, and the children live, eat and study there. They attend school at a local public school, with transportation provided by The Children’s Home. They receive computer training on three older model computers that the Home has on hand.
When all the children were in their uniforms, Sanchez asked them to show Ignacio how they study their lessons, and they eagerly complied.
Ignacio found the kids to be polite and well educated, and very tidy in their uniforms. The whole facility was very clean, thanks to the efforts of the children, who take pride in their home. Ignacio noted that the boys and girls have a “tight relationship—they all seem to like and care about each other.”
Besides chores, the children also share the financial duties of the Home. The Mexican government provides only 20% of their operating expenses; the rest must come from donations such as World Service giving and from fundraising. Some of the parents who have sent their children here do pay what they can. The Home itself conducts various fundraisers and runs a thrift store. The children put on musical shows.
Ignacio was honored when the children performed for him. Before he left, they escorted him to the chapel, where for almost an hour they sang Christmas songs. “The children have so much energy,” said Ignacio, “they really want to do something with their lives. I was very touched by how they were trying to impress me—it was very moving to see them at this time of year, gathered around a Christmas tree, singing to me, full of joy and hope for a bright future.”