Sunday, August 8, 2010


My favorite part of visiting El Salvador each summer is hanging out with outrageously cute and hilarious kids like this one:

Mattias makes this face often.  It kills me.
But my second favorite part of visiting each summer is hanging out with whatever pair of volunteers is currently living and working there.

I oversee the American volunteers who serve at the Hogar, and I am consistently amazed by the quality of people who apply to the program.  They apply to serve for a three-month shift of the year.  The volunteers provide the kids with individualized attention and stimulation that they would not otherwise receive; the volunteers also come up with larger-scale projects using their specialized skills to benefit the lives of the orphanage residents long-term. 

This past week, I worked with Mark and Shanna Warr, a young married couple from Utah.  In addition to working with individual kids each morning, teaching a class to a group of orphanage residents in the afternoon, teaching an English class for the workers and the higher-functioning kids in the evening, and planning activities and games each night, Mark and Shanna decided that they wanted to paint a mural in each of the dormitory rooms.  I thought this was a great idea because the kids spend so much time in their rooms waiting to have their clothes changed or their teeth brushed, etc, and the rooms kind of remind me of a prison or a mental hospital…no color, “cribs” that look more like cages, no bedding…it is depressing to be in there.  

This is Mark and Shanna, in the process of painting with the help of Roberto
and one of the orphanage workers!
Mark and Shanna asked the kids in each room what they would like to have painted on their wall. With the kids’ input, Mark and Shanna found images online, projected them onto the wall, traced them, and then painted them (with the help of the kids wherever possible).  I have to say, I am amazed by how the murals turned out.  Mark and Shanna are extremely talented!  When they proposed the murals to me, I thought they would slap up some handprints or something—these murals are masterpieces, and they painted fourteen of them!  (I was only there to help with one mural, and it was a ton of work, so I can't imagine how many hours went into all fourteen!)

Photos don't really do them justice, but these are some of my favorites:

Outer space
Disney Princesses

Do you think Xiomara was excited about her princess mural?
Winnie the Pooh
The Little Mermaid...kiss the girl!
Dinosaurs...the boys didn't want anything to do with princesses!
Under the Sea
Dump trucks and bulldozers...typical male.
Of course, soccer--what else?
Finding Nemo
I myself helped to paint Dorree.
I did the solid color; Shanna did the shading.

Super heroes!
Yes, one kid in the orphanage has a cool idea how he lucked out.
I'd take a race car over a cage any day!
Maria Antonia specifically requested horses!
 Pretty amazing, huh??

I was so impressed with the Warrs and had a great week working with them!  To see all of my photos, (including shots from our "Night of the Movie Stars" where we escorted each kid in on the red carpet and served him/her an umbrella drink and gave him/her a special award), click here.

I am glad to be home with Ryan--but sad to be back to reality.  At the Hogar, I get to blow bubbles, color, and play all day long.  Here, that's just not really practical. 

I will miss the kids' hugs!


  1. WOW!! No wonder you were excited! Those are awesome. I loved catching up on all your recent posts, as usual. You were way too nice to that prego!! Just kidding ;). Love you Rach!!

  2. What an amazing project! Those are so wonderful, and colorful! I'm sure it made the kids so happy to have their rooms brightened up.

  3. Wow!! Those murals are absolutely amazing!!! What a great trip!

  4. Rach...OK! YOU, my dear, are AMAZING!!! I added your adoption button onto my blog if you don't mind. I can't imagine two better people to be blessed with the gift of a child. ((((HUGS))))

    ~Mortie...Burt :)

  5. Phenomenal! And, don't worry, you aren't back to reality for long, Cal and I will be there soon! :)

  6. Oh my gosh! I can't get over those murals. The picture with Xiomara is the best--classic! In fact, Sam and I loved the whole slideshow on flickr.


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