On February 22nd 2007,  we once again visited the Casa Hogar Misercorida Orphanage outside of Chihuahua, Mexico. This was my fourth visit to the orphanage in the last four years and I happy to report that I notice incremental improvements on every visit. The children appeared to be wearing better clothing and seemed healthier than in years past. Items continue to get checked off the list of improvement projects too.

Septic system

Since my first visit, a new septic system was installed (pictured on left), the bathrooms were improved, roofs in two of the buildings were replaced, a small clinical building was put up for health care, and now the orphanage was in the process of having an industrial strength washer and dryer installed. The washer and dryer were donated by a local group and will come in very handy. You can imagine that the laundry piles up pretty quickly when you have ninety-two children on hand (forty-eight of whom are Tarahumara Indians) ranging in age from five to seventeen.

This time around, we elected to use most of the money that we raised to help pay the orphanage's utility bills. We donated around 13,000 pesos for this purpose, which will keep the lights on, the water hot, and the floors warm for two months. Electricity and natural gas are two of the largest expenses that the orphanage must face.

Of course, we couldn't show up entirely empty handed. Paying for utilities is vitally important, but from a kid's perspective, it's a little like getting underwear for Christmas. So we picked up some basketballs, soccer balls, books, socks, candy, and toothpaste as well. Not surprisingly, the candy and basketballs were very well received by the kids.

The founder of the orphanage, Fidel Rubio, and his wife Marianna were not there during our visit. We were escorted around the premises by Noe Lechuga (pictured above), who has been working there for about three months. He helped put together a list of some of their on-going needs:

-Dictionaries (English/Spanish)
-Coloring books
-Colored pencils
-Pencil sharpeners
-Old PCs, printers, and monitors
-Tables and chairs for the library
-Three sets of bunk beds
-Socks for the older kids
-Pants, shirts, shoes, and socks for the older kids (they get a lot of stuff for younger kids already)

They also can use volunteers to help watch the kids and cook. When we were there they were having cereal for dinner, so you don't exactly have to be an Emeril to fill that bill. We're going to work with the folks at our facility in Chihuahua to see if we can help with volunteers.

The most impressive aspect of this visit (and the previous ones for that matter) was how well-behaved the children are and how clean everything is considering the circumstances. While we were there, only three adults were on hand to watch over all the kids. The older ones do a lot to maintain order and help keep the youngsters in line.

We had a lot of fun playing around with the kids. As you can no doubt tell, some of them really love getting their pictures taken and they were not shy about posing for shots. One particularly out-going girl, who spoke some English, tried to butter us up by asking what the word for "handsome" was (in Spansh it's hermoso) and then pointing at each of us and repeating it.

Thanks again to all of those who generously donated to this cause. I receive a lot of e-mail asking for more information about the orphanage and while I do my best to answer each and every one, I often don't know all the details. If you are curious about anything or wish to know what you could do to help out, they now have an e-mail address:

The only caveat is that you should use Spanish if you want to drop them a note. If possible, get a human translation too, since the internet services often lead to oft amusing and very confusing miscommunication.



(Click to enlarge)