Cameras and Baby-sized Hugs: A Visit to St. Vincent de Paul Orphanage

Last week, when I walked into the nursery at St. Vincent de Paul Orphanage in Quito, Ecuador, a group of babies toddled towards me to check out my camera equipment. Just like other kids their age, they were curious about the world around them.  They wanted to explore.

As the children crawled onto my lap and reached for my equipment, orphanage director Paulina Inapanta told me their stories. Each baby’s history was tied to a tragic tale of abandonment, loss, or severe poverty – sometimes all three. But as I listened, each sad story ended on a similarly happy or hopeful note.  Ultimately, each had been rescued by the sisters and was now experiencing the joys and opportunities of this loving orphanage.

Henry’s little hand is reaching for the camera! Henry’s little hand is reaching for the camera!

One of the kids on my lap was 14-month-old Henry.  He had arrived at the nursery only one week after his birth. Henry’s parents are poor teenagers.  They don’t have the means to properly care for a child. Like many poor Ecuadorians, his malnourished parents had relieved the pain of growling stomachs by sniffing glue – even while Henry was in the womb. This caused Henry some development problems.

“Because of Henry’s situation, I decided we should to do physical therapy with all of the babies, because we never know their entire background story,” Paulina told me.

Thanks to that therapy, nutritional daily meals and 24/7 loving care, Henry has learned to crawl on his forearms, and the staff hopes he’ll learn to walk soon! Judging by Henry’s sweet disposition and willingness to cuddle, I can tell he’s being showered with the love of Christ.

“The first thing we do here is teach them they are loved and cared for,” said Sr. Lidia, one of the nuns caring for the children. “Through the affection we give them; they discover that the Lord loves them – and that is most important.”

There was another happy note to Henry’s story. Paulina told me that he is now eligible to be adopted! Please pray that God sends him godly parents who will continue to give him the love he needs to succeed in life.

As Henry and his little friends crawled on top of me and gave me baby-sized hugs, it reminded me about how God takes care of his children. These little ones are on the road to a joyful life, doing things that babies should do – like trying to eat my camera equipment!

-Catherine M.