My friend Steve volunteers his time at Ciudad De Los Ninos. Last Monday was a holiday and I wasn’t working, so I decided to tag along. I have never been to an orphanage before, and my experience has been solely what I have viewed in movies or on televison. I was completely blown away by what I saw here in Mexico.
Ciudad De Los Ninos is a Catholic orphanage that was founded decades ago by a priest and a nun. While the priest moved away years ago, the nun still resides here. Her name is Velia and she is in charge of the organization. Here she is in a photo with Nalleli, my guide for the day.
Velia left a good administrative position with the government at age 26 and her life changed forever when she helped to found this orphanage. She had worked for the government since the age of 15.
Ciudad De Los Ninos was initially a one room operation in the colonia of Juarez. It moved to the present location in 1970. The nuns all live on site. Each nun is a mother figure to a group of children.
The children sometimes arrive here immediately after birth as well as when they are older. Children who live here cannot be adopted out. They stay for varying periods of time. If a family is in financial distress the children may stay here until the situation is resolved. Occasionally parents are incarcerated and are then reunited when they are released from jail.
The ages vary and children are welcome to stay as long as they want. Nalleli told me that she and her two sisters have been here for over ten years. She is now 24 and works in customer service at a hotel in Mazatlan. She is hoping to move out soon along with her sisters into a place of their own. She has already bought a fridge, table and some kitchen utensils. Nalleli learned English when the Rotary Club sponsored her to live in California for a year to attend school.
The children attend either private or public school where they also learn English. Boys and girls have separate dorms that are strictly supervised by the nuns. The dormitories are colorfully decorated and feature both ample closet space and washrooms.
The kitchen facilities are amazing! The kitchen itself is huge and there is a utility room off the kitchen that contains a variety of pots, pans and other cooking utensils.
There are two dining halls, one for the nuns and one for the children. This photo is the children’s, bright and cheerfully decorated.
There is also a beautiful sanctuary where daily masses are held as well as a lovely garden adjacent to it.
The statue in the above picture is the founding priest.
I was deeply moved by Nalleli’s story and am in awe of Velia’s dedication to this institution and to the children. I look forward to visiting Ciudad De Los Ninos again soon.