OUR FIRST DAY IN BOGOTA, COLOMBIA
Thank you to all of the generous donors.
I thought of writing short posts from our time here at the orphanage so that we can keep you informed of our progress that we have been able to achieve with your generous help.
After my connecting flight in San Salvador got delayed by 3 hours, it was finally a relief to reach Bogota at 3.30 am last night. Garret (my associate) and I had a quick breakfast and met Catalina Ovideo (volunteer at the orphanage) and reached “Santa rita de cascia” home.
Santarita is a foster home where Dr. Fernando Quintero and his team does a wonderful job of providing special care for 55 children that suffer from different chronic or terminal pathologies, such as genetic syndromes, brain paralysis, cardiorespiratory, hepatic and kidney diseases, among others, and have been abandoned by their families in hospitals. In Hogar Santa Rita they aim to restore all of their harmed rights with the assistance of a multidisciplinary team in the areas of medicine, nutrition, psychology, social work, physical, respiratory and occupational therapy, odontology, special education and permanent nursing care as well as special volunteering to improve their quality of life and to recover the hope of living with love in a new family.
We spent most of the time today with the founder of this orphanage – Dr. Fernando Quintero. He is an amazing individual and a generous soul; always on the run managing the children at this place and dealing with emergencies. His story is fantastic. Sixteen years ago, he graduated from the medical school in Bogota and decided to dedicate his life to helping children with disabilities who have been abandoned by families. Given the poverty and desperation of these families, these children are often time simply left in the hospital where they are born….Parents being too poor and incapable of care have no choice but to abandon their newly born. Dr Qunitero got a loan of $150 from one of his acquaintances and started a small dispensary in Ciudad Bolivar (very poor area of Bogota with high crime rate).
Slowly with good work and good word, his message spread and today he manages 4 different homes that are dedicated to abandoned children, single mothers with kids who have disabilities and seniors who have no home to live in.
40% of the funding comes from the government and rest is through volunteer organizations like ours.
We discussed with Dr Quintero as to where our donations will be spent and he indicated that they need some immediate help with:
Dr. Quintero is expecting 8 newly born babies who are coming to his orphanage soon from the hospitals. They need equipment such as medical appliances, beds and oxygen support.
They need to build another room at one of the homes where they have few additional residents coming – single mothers whose kids have cancer and no other place to go to.
Without Dr. Quintero’s help, most of the unfortunate children would probably not have survived. The one’s that reach this home, get proper health care and love. A few have made it out and are now self reliant.
For e.g., a young female who is now 18 – she came as a kid to the orphanage with a tumor in her leg. She reached a point when she had to make a decision whether to amputate her leg or not. The choice was between life and death. She decided to live and after finishing a diploma in office administration from a local college, she is now working back at the same Orphanage where she started as a resident.
The others are sometimes not that fortunate but at least end up living a life of dignity.
Thank you again for all of your help!