A new orphanage in Bucerias, Mexico, held its grand opening on December 2 of last year. The orphanage, called Manos de Amor or “Hands of Love”, was the result of a two year project that the Rotary Club of Invermere started with Club Rotario Bahia de Banderas. Through the Rotary Matching Grants program, the clubs funded a much-needed kitchen facility for the orphanage.
Jeanette Riches was on a personal vacation with her family to Mexico and knew about the Rotary Club’s involvement with a local orphanage there.
She decided to visit the orphanage with her husband and five-and-a-half-year-old daughter.
They visited on a Sunday, when almost all the children were present, along with volunteers and the house mother. Riches and her family were given a tour through the orphanage.
“It was a really nice facility,” said Riches. “My daughter made a few new friends that day. The other children wanted to show her their rooms. They communicated through showing and smiling, like anyone would do in a language barrier situation, and my daughter was very comfortable.”
As Riches and her family toured through the orphanage, they were able to see the new kitchen facility, as well as the orphanage’s school room.
“The kitchen was immaculately clean, and we had stopped by to visit unannounced,” Riches explained. “I was impressed with the school room too. There was a beautiful mural painted on the walls and ceiling.”
The orphanage is currently working on getting a computer room, and a new public school is currently being built behind the facility so children can walk to it.
“The orphanage receives a lot of donations,” said Riches. “The children have nice clothes and are well taken care of.”
The children at the orphanage come from various domestic backgrounds, and many have parents who have been incarcerated. There is a low adoption rate in the area, so the orphanage works to help get children back with their families when they can.
The children themselves were described as “friendly” and “very happy” by Riches.
“It was really interesting to see how well they were doing,” Riches said.
The orphanage also acts as a daycare centre on special occasions for single parents who need to place their child in safe hands for a day while they work.
“I shed a few tears to see the kids so happy, but really there was nothing to be sad about,” said Riches. “The children were very happy, and that’s the most important thing.”
The Rotary Club of Invermere has been working with orphanages around the world since the days of Del and Bev Hoffman.
The couple often visit orphanages in Mexico to donate clothing, toys and time with Rotary Club assistance for years.
However, they were murdered in Mexico in December 1999.
The Hoffman Fund was created to commemorate their work.
The Hoffman Fund now works with various organizations and schools in Mexico to promote the Leer y Crecer program, or “Read and Grow” program.
The project helps to spread literacy and books throughout schools and facilities in Mexico to this day.