El Carmen

Describe a significant setback, challenge or opportunity in your life and the impact that it has had on you.


This summer, I had the opportunity to escape from the routine of daily life and spend a week in Mexico. However, this week was no Acapulco vacation. I journeyed alongside several dozen members of my youth group to El Carmen, a small village on the Mexican interior, far from the tourist-friendly coastal cities. It had none of the amenities that an American takes for granted, such as ice-cold water and plumbing strong enough to flush toilet paper. But we were there on a mission: to bring love, friendship, and structural improvements to twenty children who resided in an unfinished orphanage by the name of Casa Hogar.

Casa Hogar is located in the middle of nowhere. Only after driving miles down an unpaved, rocky trail, dwarfed on either side by harsh, mountainous terrain, did we arrive at the concrete orphanage. Designed as a haven, most of the children who take refuge there are not actual orphans, but rather sons and daughters removed by the government from unhealthy living conditions. Because Casa Hogar specializes in severe cases, its location makes it an ideal fortress for children fleeing from not only impoverished circumstances but abusive, unstable parents.

Fernando, like many of the "orphaned" residents, was...

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