While it’s been a few days since I left Monterrey, there’s still a lot to say about my time there. I stayed at Back2Back, an organization that helps resource and facilitate orphanages in Mexico (and in Nigeria too!). It’s a beautiful area, nestled in a valley of the Sierra Madre Mountains. The people there have amazing hearts for kids, and it was really a joy to be around people that give so much of themselves.
Pulling into the gates of Casa Hogar Douglas was a huge relief. The cold, wet, confusing, and stressful ride into Monterrey left me exhausted, but I was immediately thrust into the middle of some more chaos-except this was the kind of fantastic chaos… A pizza party for sixty orphans. It would be difficult to describe the noise, excitement and general din associated with that many kids in a small room eating Domino’s. (Yes, there’s Domino’s in Mexico. Subways too…kind of disappointing, really…but I digress.)
The next day was spent at Rio III, the nickname for an area on the outskirts of Monterrey. Apparently the land bordering rivers is owned by the government, and the poor have claimed it as their own, setting up shanty towns. Trash literally fills the streets, and at times the smell is overwhelming. You can see where those few that are fortunate enough to have electricity have stolen it via makeshift cables off of the main electrical poles. Homes are built of unpainted cinderblock and whatever else happens to be laying around.
But as ugly and awful a place as it was, the people were incredible. The kids were some of the most sweet, and energetic little people you could ever hope to meet. Even living in a place that to me looked like hell, they wore smiles that were bigger than the tears in their jeans or the stains on their shirts.
We spent the day handing out food, groceries, and clothes. It was really an incredible opportunity to spend time one on one with some amazing kids.
All in all, it was a pretty incredible opportunity to meet people who live in a world that is so completely different from mine in most every way. Even as I was experiencing it, I wasn’t sure it was real. It felt like I was living out someone else’s memory or watching someone else’s home movie. So much so that I asked a friend to take this picture. So I could remember that I was there, and that this experience belonged to me, and no one else.
More photos from the trip can be viewed at here.