Lucia Bruzzi

BY Lucia Bruzzi

Today is the day that Ale and I left Miami to travel to Mexico for our very first Why Not Teens mission. The purpose of this trip is to volunteer at Casa Hogar, a foster home in Cancun that houses kids that have been either sexually or physically abused.

DAY 1:

When planning this trip we set two major goals: 1. to bring a telemedicine device that looks like a luggage to the orphanage; 2. to bring materials such as toys, scrapbooks, colors, etc.. to Casa Hogar in order to entertain the kids throughout our staying and beyond. Unfortunately, we had some issues to fly the device, therefore we will have to put our first goal on hold and find another way to transport the device throughout our 6 days at the orphanage. Being our very first mission, Ale and I don’t really know what to expect. We know what we have to do and how many kids we have, but we don’t have any specific information regarding the rules we will have to follow throughout our visit. But, nevertheless, we are super excited and can’t wait to start this journey.

DAY 2:

Afternoon of June 5th, 2017. Is strange and heart-filling seeing how people, that don’t know what a family is, are the ones to make you feel most at ease. From the moment we walked in since they all call their teachers either tias (aunt) or mama (mom), they instantly started to call us the same making us feel comfortable with our surroundings. We were also able to talk to the person that is in charge of all the academics: July. All the kids go to school in the morning except for a group of 4 children. This is because they all need special attention since their development is a little bit behind compared to where it should be. For this reason, in the morning they assigned us to these 4 kids and our job is to help them learn as much as they can throughout our time at Casa Hogar. The kids go from 4 years old all the way to 11 so we tried to do activities that would involve everyone such as coloring, reading, writing and much more. The moment of the day that was most eye-opening for Ale and I was when we gave out a pair of shoes for each kid. It was truly one of the most heart-stopping experiences of our life. In our 17 years in this world, we have never felt more needed and appreciated as we did today. As soon as they received their sneakers, they automatically and without hesitation came to us, hugged us and thanked us like no one ever did before. It’s hard to explain because in our privileged world we are not used to seeing and feel such raw, heartwarming recognition. We are used to thanking people if they give us gifts or offer us something, but most of the time we don’t necessarily mean the gratitude because we know that without that object our life wouldn’t really change. But, for these kids, it is not like that. They are used to move from house to house without knowing where they belong and if they belong because that’s how they have been raised since they were born. They have the strict necessary to survive and that’s it because if they allow themselves to have more it would mean more weight to carry when moving from one place to the other. But now that they are at Casa Hogar they don’t have to live that life anymore, but that doesn’t matter, because their past scared them in a way that taught them to be appreciative of everything they have, because they know that nothing is forever. Therefore every gift for them is life-changing. So, the only thing that is left for us to say is that today was the best first day of our lives!!!

DAY 3:

So now that we are more familiar with the surroundings we are ready to live another wonderful day!

Now that we know the schedule and what to expect, we are a little more organized, which means that we were able to organize activities that are more appropriate for the kids.

Early this morning, we worked with the 4 kids with special needs. After that, the other kids come back to the orphanage from school and we have various activities planned for them. Part of our job is to make sure and help the kids do their homework. So now that we are more familiar to the surroundings we are ready to live another wonderful day!

Afternoon of June 6th, 2017. We are on our way now back to our accommodation re-exploring the lovely episode that we were able to live today. In the afternoon we got to be part of a wonderful experience that we don’t think many people can say they have lived first hand. Everyone that was part of the family of Casa Hogar (which now includes us also) met in a circle and the “tias” announced that 5 kids out of 22 were being adopted. Everyone broke into tears which made the whole event both beautiful yet bittersweet at the same time. The kids that were getting adopted were crying of joy and hope but on the other hand, there were some kids, that weren’t getting adopted, that were crying for the feeling evoked by that news. “Why did they choose them and not me” one said. But at the same time the kids that were getting adopted rushed to hug us as if we made that life-changing experience possible. Overall, even the kids that weren’t starting a new life with a new family were very supportive and excited for their brothers and sisters that were.

DAY 4:

Today was a fun day. It is exciting to see how much these kids can learn in a second if they are treated with respect and love. Since the first day, the kids have learned so much. Thanks to our help and care some of them even started reading and writing. They are so smart and such quick learner! To add, it is amazing to see how well they can work in groups and be kind to one another even after the childhood that they had.

DAY 5:

Today two people from the WNT team are going to try to bring the device from Miami to Mexico. As said before, unfortunately, the first device didn’t have all the paperwork to pass through customs. But hopefully today we will be able to receive it.

Unfortunately, the device that we had in mind was a bigger device, but due to customs, we will only be able to bring a smaller telemedicine device. Which might not be the end of the world, because we actually think that it might be better and more accurate for Casa Hogar. So, today during lunch, Ale and I will be revising and studying the instruction to understand how the device works. In this way, if the device does come through we will be able to instruct the nurse at Casa Hogar on how to use it. Thanks to this device hopefully we will improve and facilitate the medical aspect of Casa Hogar.

Afternoon of June 8, 2017: Today the 5 five kids were adopted! It was an indescribable experience being able to see the families pick up what they are now their kids and start a new life together. There was so much love and happiness filling Casa Hogar today. Especially coming from the kids that were staying at the Orphanage. They all made cards, bracelets and various gifts to give to their friends that were leaving, to let them know that no matter where they go they will always be family to one another. We were also able to play outside with these humongous bubbles that we brought all the way from Miami and which the kids loved. Also to top the day of, once we got back to our accommodation, we met with the rest of the WNT team, which was able to hand us over the device. Therefore we are looking forward to installing it tomorrow!!

DAY 6:

Today we are bringing the telemedicine device and we are going to try to connect it to Miami Children’s Hospital and, if we succeed, then we will examine some of the kids under the supervision of Doctor Maggioni at the Children’s Hospital in Miami.

Today we are going to try to get the ball rolling by training the nurse to be familiar and use the device properly so that she can be in contact first with Nicholas Children Hospital. But, the ultimate goal is to get and a liagent here in Mexico, connected through the telemedicine device, to a doctor here in order to have a better plan on how to treat the kids. In this way, we will be able to create an independent system that will facilitate and support the medical process.

Afternoon of June 9, 2017: We were able to install the device and connect with both Doctor Maggioni and our ATM assistant. It was really exhilarating to be able to adventure the first use of a telemedicine device in the world. Everything that we saw in Mexico, the doctor at the telemedicine station in Miami was able to see (for more reference look at pictures on the website). We managed to test the device on two kids, and the results were more successful than what we ever imagined. So yeah, we can say that we got the ball rolling!!!

DAY 7:

This experience taught us how important it is to live the moment. It also made us visualize and undergo a reality that seems so far from the reality that we are used to living every day.

Today is the saddest day of our whole trip because today is the very last day that we will spend with the kids at Casa Hogar. We initially planned a pool party, but the weather might not allow us, so we will see how the day turns out.

It almost seems as if the weather is portraying our current emotions. We are so heartbroken to leave the kids, especially now that we all got very attached to one another. But at the same time, we are grateful and extremely happy about being able to live this experience. Is for this reason that, we decided to ask the principal if there is a way to stay in touch with the kids even after we leave so that we can always be updated on how everyone in Casa Hogar is doing.

Afternoon of June 10, 2017: We were able to do the pool party! Today was such a happy day even though it is the day that we had to say goodbye. Anyway, the pool party was extremely fun, the kids got to play and enjoy the day. We had a whole water slide, we bought them cake and gave them gifts. We can conclude that this was one of the best experiences in our entire life. The feeling that we felt in these 5 days will always be with us. This experience taught us how important it is to live the moment. It also made us visualize and undergo a reality that seems so far from the reality that we are used to living every day. It’s for this reason that we will try our best to stay in contact with our new family in Casa Hogar and we will do our best to go back for a future mission!!



Sign up to find out how you can get involved with Why Not Teens!