The Hogar is love. Plain and simple. There is no better way to explain what occurs in that house on a daily basis. Despite being afflicted with some of the worst health conditions anyone could endure, the children of the Hogar are the most loving, caring, well-behaved, positive and compassionate children I have ever met. Spending time with them is like spending a bit of time in Heaven (as I would imagine it). It would seem at first glance that there would be so much moaning and groaning, complaining about being in pain or not feeling well, or sadness over the way that a face, hand or leg has been disfigured, but that isn't the case at all. There is virtually none of this. Never did I hear a child complain about not feeling well, cry over the way they look, or even think twice about the condition of their health. Instead I heard a lot of laughing. I heard girls talking about cute boys, and boys talking about pretty girls. I heard conversations over puzzles, coloring, games and homework. But never any complaining or whining. They have accepted the hand they've been dealt, and moved on; enjoying the life they have been given and all of the joy that it includes. They focus on the positive.
There are a lot of lessons to be learned in the Hogar. Each person that visits there probably faces a different outlook once they leave, and that is why I say that it is the children, and not the volunteers, that are there to help. While they may not even know that they are doing it, the children of the Hogar San Francisco de Asis are life teachers. Being with them provides a lesson in life that just cannot be learned in any other setting.
Despite anything else that happened during my time at the Hogar I brought back with me the memories of the children, my time with them, and the lessons that I learned from them. That is all that is important to me. My time there was priceless, and the children are the faces of angels. Dr. Tony truly is a saint, and I am honored to have met him and spent time with him each day. It was my first time in Peru, but it will not be my last.