Most of our followers know that for the first two years of living in Cuenca we volunteered for children; you can see many of our videos where we were working with children and volunteering our handyman abilities fixing up the children’s home. However, most people don’t know this one small detail and that is we did not volunteer at an “orphanage”, we volunteered at a “children’s home”, which is a bit different than an “orphanage”. We were not completely aware of that going in but as time went on we figured it out.
|Frank, Brandon, and Alex drawing with the children|
The difference is an orphanage is a place that provides a home for children without parents, and a children’s home is a place that provides a home for children who have a parent(s) but it has been decided that they can’t be in their parent’s home (at the time) because of one or both parents with alcohol or drug problems, low or no finances, domestic problems, abuse, etc. In some instances the parents actually take their children to the children’s home because they feel life will be better for them there, at least for the time being.
|Frank reading a book to some of the children|
Sometimes circumstances change for the better. When we were volunteering, we witnessed two different sets of parents coming to get their children from the children’s home; they were going home! Happy times seeing families get back together. We still see two of the children from one of the families helping their parents from time to time and they seem happy to back with their parents.
|Brandon with some of the children|
We quickly figured out that sending too many foreigners would swamp them, and they would and do quickly put up barriers making it harder for others to come after them. So as an afterthought, we decided to make a short list of all the homes we knew did not charge an up front fee, and we put them in the DIY Cuenca Landing Guide.
We figured that by scattering the demand over several homes instead of one or two and limiting it to book buyers we could slow down the bottleneck. And it worked for a while. Unfortunately or fortunately, Cuenca is not a very large city and the number of homes in the guide eventually became too small for the demand. To this day we still get several requests on a regular basis.
Some of these homes eventually put up the additional barriers and now the number of homes in the guide that still don’t charge upfront fees has dwindled to about two. If you are aware of any new homes that don’t charge upfront fees, we humbly request that you not make that information public on forums for the reasons stated above. If you like what we’re doing about it, let us know privately and we’ll add them to the guide. Thanks for understanding.
Keep in mind that “pure religion” as described in ancient writings would be to visit “orphans” and “widows” in those days widows had no social security check , pensions, or any societal ledge to rest on other than the goodwill of those with a good spirit, besides family members. ***
On another note, last week I came across this from Gringo Tree (Tribelr) and it might be worth looking into if you want to volunteer your time to help children. It is a program that is partnered with Hearts of Gold and they need volunteers to help with children after school. The post did not say anything about an upfront fee, so it might be a good volunteer opportunity working with children to pursue. Click the title: CETAP -Lucy Needs Volunteers for Afterschool Programs
Another possibility for volunteering working with children is to contact some of the Catholic churches in Cuenca directly, as there are a couple of orphanages in Cuenca that might not charge an upfront fee. They’ll want to interview you and make sure you are a good candidate for volunteering for children, which is to be expected.
Until we write again...
If you liked this article, we think you’ll also like these.
We're an Expat Family of Five, Living Frugal, Healthy and Happy Abroad. We live in Cuenca, Ecuador and travel the Ecuador coast whenever we get a chance. We just adventured throughout the country of Panama for five weeks! Come along and enjoy some of our experiences with us!