Over the last 18 years, Chrysalis Therapeutic Boarding School has conducted dozens of international service trips with our students. It is hard to imagine a service opportunity more meaningful than what we experienced at Casa Hogar Alegre. All of our hearts were touched as we bonded with and improved the living conditions for the children. The time spent at the orphanage left an indelible impact on all of us and was the highlight of an amazing experience in Chiapas Mexico. Below is a letter one mother wrote to us about the power of service.
I wanted to share my feelings about the Mexico trip with you. Thank you for giving me the opportunity to document this special experience.
When I found out that we were going to the southern part of Mexico for this trip, I had no good feeling about traveling there. As a matter of fact, I was dreading going. I imagined getting serious food poisoning, becoming fodder for mosquitoes and finally, experiencing beastly heat. Instead of realizing my fears, I was completely transformed by this trip.
We arrived at the orphanage late at night, so we didn’t get a chance to meet the children until the next morning. We awoke to the sounds of singing, playing, and joyful yelling on the playground. When we got to work painting, we would see snippets of little faces peering out at us or teasing us playfully. We couldn’t wait until the work was done so we could interact with our little hosts. When playtime came, we were all rewarded with warm hugs, fun activities, and some of best horsey rides these kids had ever received. Wait, didn’t I just have doubts about this trip? I forgot all about them. This dreadful trip suddenly morphed into pure joy. Seeing the glowing faces of the children in the orphanage, as the Chrysalis girls gave them horsey rides, made my heart swell. We had a great couple of days reaching out to the girls, establishing transient but meaningful relationships and just enjoying their company. We wished we could have stayed longer but our time flew by.
We traveled on to the ruins, but the orphans remained on our minds until we could return to see them. Finally, on the night before we returned to the U.S. we had a piñata party at the orphanage. The Chrysalis girls quickly located the girls that they had connected with a few days earlier. The orphans ran swiftly to meet their new friends. Language was definitely not a barrier and no translation was necessary to read their illuminated faces when they found their special friends. Even though we stayed two hours longer than we had originally intended, time was not merciful and we had to say our hasty and heartbreaking goodbyes. It was at this point that I realized that this trip had not only changed my life and the lives of the orphans, but it had forever altered the lives of the Chrysalis girls. The feelings were so profound that the tears flowed freely. There was no one that witnessed this beautiful, meaningful event that wasn’t completely moved.
Thank you for giving me the opportunity to be transformed by this lovely visit to this extraordinary orphanage. I am a firm believer in giving back to the community because as St. Francis said, “It is in giving that we receive” and I have never received such a reward for giving back to the community. This orphanage is truly a worthy recipient of our volunteerism and our monetary donations. I’m thrilled that Chrysalis has “adopted” Casa Hogar as its charitable cause. As Winston Churchill said, “We make a living by what we get… but we make a life by what we give.” Those who embrace this philosophy truly know what it is to live.
With warmest regards and endless gratitude,