There are times when being in Proniño feels like being at a summer camp that never ends. Yes, they work (and by work, I mean mow the yard with machetes, which still seems like the absolute worst way to spend an afternoon), but they are surrounded by kids their age. Being an only (but uber social) child, this seems like it would be quite heavenly. Until I remember that this doesn’t end. Their parents aren’t coming back to get them at the end of the summer and they won’t drive home talking a mile a minute about their new friends, the games they played and how many worms they ate because of that double dog dare.
This is their home.
And instead of parents, they are taken care of by adults who are paid to be there.
Although this is not an ideal situation, today’s post is not meant to be sad. Yes, I’ve known some employees that come to Proñino every day because they need an income. They arrive, put in their time and leave. But those employees tend to find this work taxing and leave for other jobs rather rapidly. Those that stick around? They know that this is work from the heart.
Let me introduce you to a few.
Marvin is a BIG guy who works with LITTLE kids. Helloooooo human jungle gym. When he arrives, the kids swarm him. He gets down on their level, talks animatedly and has the ability to listen to four chattering children at once. (He needs to give me lessons.) The boys he works with are at an age where they need to be played with, need someone to listen to their endless stories about how many marbles they won in today’s death match and need to feel like someone enjoys being with them. Marvin does that. He does it with patience and he does it with a smile on his face.
One point five weeks ago I blogged about Edgar being found and coming back to Pronino. (Let me take a moment to express once again how excited/happy/relieved/ecstatic about this I am….) As Jilli was talking to him on the street she said that everyone had been asking her about him.
Edgar: Like who?
Jilli: Like, everyone, but especially Zuniga.
Edgar: REALLY?? Zuniga???
She could have mentioned me (because I messaged her roughly every other day about him). She could have mentioned any other gringa who has expressed concern. Instead she told him about the employee who rules Nueva Vida (the intake center at Proniño) with an iron fist, but who has been incredibly concerned about Edgar’s safety on the street. He has worked with Proniño for years and years and has seen so many kids cycle in an out. He has seen Edgar leave nearly ten times. But when he left once again, instead of throwing up his hands and giving up on this child, Zuniga took all of his stuff and put it in a place where it would be safe. Over the months that Edgar was gone Zuniga remained hopeful that he would soon return. And it was Edgar hearing that Zuniga was concerned for him and WANTED him back that helped him make the final decision to return.
Finally we have Fernando, the director of Amor y Paz, where the 12-15 years olds live. According to this picture he seems to believe in regression therapy. I kid, I kid. There isn’t a child who leaves that he doesn’t adamantly want back. The 20 or so boys who live in this house are his and he takes his responsibility for them seriously. When they get moved to Grandes Heroes, the next age level, he worries that all of his investment will be for nought. Direct quote. (And by direct, I mean this is what I translated while we were chatting when we were supposed to be listening in a meeting. So, more or less direct.)
These are some of the people who devote their days to taking care of these kids I love so very much. Their jobs are difficult, but the good ones find it quite rewarding. During Sharing Joy: One Piece at a Time we are raising $1800 towards the salaries of people like Marvin, Zuniga and Fernando. $1800 will cover 5 months of costs or 5 employees for one month. We’ll let Proniño decide the timeline.
We are still $1,320 towards our goal of $20,000 this month. To fill in more pieces of this puzzle, click here. Let’s get the edges done by the end of this week!
Is this the first Sharing Joy post that you’ve read? Well, let me get you caught up with a quick summary. So far we have talked about raising:
$1800 for salaries
$2000 for positive reinforcements
$350 for baby chicks
$4000 for the madres
And if you’re still wondering what in the world I’m talking about, read about Sharing Joy: One Piece at a Time.