They all made me smile. The way they greeted a complete stranger who looked nothing like them melted my heart. What an experience! The minute I walked through the lush garden of the church to the outdoor gym I felt so warm and fuzzy inside. It’s amazing the unconditional love a child of special needs can give. They don’t have a worry in the world! I decided when I came to Ecuador I wanted to start giving back, I was too caught up in the hustle and bustle of daily life back in the US to take the time to give back. I am so fortunate to have such a wonderful life with many opportunities. So I received the opportunity from Santiago’s nieces who have vacationed the last month in Bahia and were volunteering every day at this school.
After the kids greeted us, they stood in a line on the concrete floor to stretch. The teachers informed me (through translation) the kids were training for the Special Olympics which was that weekend. They were so excited to play futbol (soccer)! We played guys vs. girls and everyone got to play. Every time a goal was made everyone would jump up and down! I have never smiled so much in my life. Then after futbol everyone had snack and hung out. It was great for me to interact with each of them and learn a little more Spanish. Pammy, Santiago’s neice, translated and told the class who I was and that I wanted to take a picture. Once I got the camera out, the looks on the kid’s faces were priceless! They wanted to see the picture after it was taken AND they wanted to take a picture themselves. So, of course after seeing the smiles on their faces I couldn’t resist. I told the teachers I wanted to come back and volunteer at least once a week from now on and they seemed really excited! The kids played with the camera until the battery was dead and then they all gave me lots and lots of hugs and kisses. I plan on going back after their vacation this next week at least once a week if not more. Nothing like unconditional love from a child!