On Mondays and Fridays I go to the Casa Hogar Trisker which is a state-run orphanage about 15-20 minutes outside of town. The kids range in age from 1 to 13. When you show up, many of the children approach you saying 'Tia' or 'Tio' (meaning 'aunt' or 'uncle') which is both hearrtbreaking and heartwarming at the same time. Most of the kids were taken out of their homes by the government because of abuse or neglect. Also, abortion is illegal in Panama, so in many cases these are children whose parents simply could not afford to take care of them. Some of these kids have had it real tough, but they're pretty happy at the home for the most part. It's just unsettling to see various scars and burns on kids so young that were likely not acquired on the playground. I could get into it more but I won't.
While the government does a noble job of taking these children out of abusive or neglectful homes, they really don't do a great job of caring for them in the orphanage. Most of the employees are there to collect their check and at times are difficult to find. For example, I hit a kid in the face with a baseball the other day (you can imagine how great I felt after that) and I couldn't find anyone to help me help him. I picked him up took him inside then went to the kitchen to fetch the nino some ice for his bruised eye (I was thrilled the next time I came that he had no bruise and he grabbed a mit with the utmost alacrity and enthusiasm). The employees are basically government bureaucrats who care for the children with all the warmth and tenderness a DMV employee cares for your license plates. Much to my dismay I learned today that children have died in Trisker. The latest crisis there has been that the running water supply has been cut off/damaged and sometimes downright non-existent. This problem has persisted for ALMOST 3 WEEKS!!!
I could also go on and on about the bureacratic nonsense, but I won't.
OK, enough of the sad stuff. Most of the kids are tough as nails, but really good, cute, fun kids. I bought some baseball stuff down when I came and the older boys are usually psyched to throw the ball around. There aren't many grown, young men who come to the orphanage so when Oscar or I come they usually get pretty excited. I got a football today let's see how they like that.
Eventhough these kids don't have a thing in the whole damn world, it doesn't seem to bother some of them. I believe the happiest kid in the entire world lives in Trisker. Angel, who is probably 3 or 4 is one of the cutest kids I've ever met and I almost never see him without a smile. Him and his best pal Juan have more fun than anyone I've ever seen. He came up to me saying 'Aleseme' (I think, which I didn't know until later means, 'pick me up'). After I scooped him up once I had to do it for every kid in the orphanage. Now, I'm like a ride in the goddamned Magic Kingdom.
If I had the funds and was married, yadda yadda yadda, I would try to adopt little Angel and Juan. But, supposedly adoption is next to impossible for American parents in Panama. Sometimes I wonder if they would be happier at Trisker than in the States.
Anyway, I have to head out right now.
On a lighter note: Way to go Saints!