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  Written by Julie Barclay on 26 Jan 2015

RainbowKids is honored to introduce our first featured organization, Nuestros Pequenos Hermanos. 

Since 1954, Nuestros Pequeños Hermanos™ (NPH) has cared for thousands of orphaned and abandoned children. The first home opened in Mexico, later followed by homes in Honduras, Haiti, Nicaragua, Guatemala, El Salvador, the Dominican Republic, Peru and Bolivia. To date, over 18,300 children have been cared for by this unique and loving family.

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Children of all ages are embraced by this loving family, Nuestros Pequeños Hermanos™, which in English means "Our Little Brothers and Sisters." Some have been abandoned. Others have lost one or both parents and have no one to care for them. Many have physical and emotional scars that eventually heal as they begin to trust their new family.

Through the principles of love, security, sharing, work and responsibility, the children begin to thrive. A careful balance of these five principles helps the children succeed and live in harmony.

Love and Security

The boys and girls are raised in a loving environment, secure in the knowledge they will never be forced to leave the home. They are promised they will never be separated from their siblings, nor given up for adoption. In addition to a good education, their spiritual and emotional needs are nourished, preparing them for adulthood with tools to break the cycle of poverty that once was their destiny.

Sharing, Work and Responsibility

The children are encouraged to share their time, talents and belongings with others inside and outside the NPH family. Every child at NPH has a daily job, from dusting and mopping to cooking and farming. The older youth give a year or more of service as house directors, medical assistants, craft apprentices, office staff and other important roles. As a result, the family needs fewer volunteers and paid staff. The children find pride in contributing to their family's survival. They keep each other accountable in their work, studies and relationships with others.

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NPH houses around 4000 orphaned children throughout Mexico and Central America. The children are not adoptable. That is not the philosophy of NPH as mentioned on their website:

“The children who find their way to NPH have been orphaned, abused, shuffled from one family member to another. They are seeking love and security, a place to call home. When they come into the care of NPH, they are told they will never be asked to leave. The children grow and learn their culture and language and become contributing citizens in their own countries. Several children arrive with brothers and sisters; it is the priority of NPH to keep the families together.”

Many of the children of NPH are, however, available for sponsorship.

Recently, through NPH, Aurora Zacarias shared her story with RainbowKids. Aurora is an ex-pequeña who grew up at NPH Mexico. She graduated from university and now lives and works in Monterrey, Mexico:

Please let me introduce myself, my name is Aurora Zacarias, and I was born in Mexico City in 1977. I am the youngest of my siblings, and have an older sister Elena, and older brother, Alejandro.

I did not become a member of the NPH family until 1988, after my mother died and my father abandoned us to go to America. What we thought would be the darkest hour, was in fact the year that my life changed for the better. As they say, when one door closes another one opens. When we walked through the doors of NPH, our lives changed forever. Let me tell you my story.

Like many children in Mexico, I was born into poverty. Having one bed for the three of us, it never crossed our minds that there was anything better for us in life. Although we attended public schools, rarely did we have books to read or pencils to writewith. Our days and nights left no hope for dreaming.

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Christmas time was especially tough for my family. Traditionally, children receive candy, toys or clothing from their parents for Three Kings Day, but we never got anything from our parents. It was sad because we thought it was our fault, we must have behaved badly or done something wrong to not get a gift. Looking back, I guess it was a good thing that we didn’t understand how poor our family was.

My mother passed away when I was 8 years old. She had hepatitis C, but we never noticed that she was seriously ill because we didn’t have access to a doctor.

My Dad tried to take care of us without our mother for the next two years, but there was often no work and he turned to alcohol. He lost his will to fight. He gave up on himself and on us.

One day our father sat us down to tell us that he was leaving to the U.S. to find work. He promised us that he was making this decision to give us a better life, that he would send money to us. He gave us 20 pesos and 1988 was the last time we saw our dad. We have not heard from him in 23 years. He abandoned us. We don’t know if he’s even alive.

Our grandfather and uncles took care of us for a short time, but it was very clear that they didn’t want the responsibility of three more children. They were poor and struggling themselves. At that time, we were really lucky if we had one meal a day.

Soon, they gave us two options. The first was to move to separate towns in Mexico where we had extended family. Because they were poor, we would have entered the workforce at a young age, and lived our lives working the fields without an education. We would be separated, and may have never seen each other again.

Our second option was to be given up for adoption, and grow up in an orphanage. This of course also meant that we might be separated forever. Imagine being 10 years old, and trying to decide between these two options. Again, when one door closes another one opens. One of our aunts had heard about NPH, and that’s where, by the grace of God, we ended up.

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I remember our first day at NPH very well. I had never been to such a beautiful place. I remember the open space, the gardens, and plenty of space to play. I had never imagined in my wildest dreams that we might end up in a place like NPH.

From the beginning, our new brothers and sisters made us feel very welcome, and asked us a lot of questions, and made us feel as if we were life-long friends.

For the very first time in my life, I had my own bed. I was able to go back to school at NPH, and never again went without a pen or notebook for class.

I also remember our first Three Kings Day at NPH. We each got our first Christmas gift! This finally eliminated all doubts of whether I was a good child or not! I was a good child.

Our new family gave us love, taught us to be responsible, and look out for each other. Every day we woke up early, got dressed, had breakfast, did our morning chores and then went to school. After school we’d eat, do more chores and then did homework. The rest of the time was free to develop our interests.

My favorite activity was dancing, and I was part of the NPH dance group for five years. Back then, and still today, the dance group travels to the U.S. for fundraisers, helping Fr. Wasson ensure that future generations of pequeños also have a secondchance at life.

I traveled to the U.S. for the first time when I was fourteen, as part of the dance group.

NPH takes great care in teaching the children important values. Fr. Wasson always made sure that even kids like us, who came from very little, knew the importance of giving back.

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This is a picture of me with baby Felipe during my year of service. All pequeños give a year of service back to the home before going to high school. During my year, I took care of kindergarten age pequeños. Each day I woke them up, showered them, took them to school, helped with homework, showed them how to do chores, played with them, and made sure they ate well. I learned to be a mother at age 15, a quality which would help me later in life.

I could never have done all of this without my two Guardian angels, Susan Campbell and Naomi Hult, my Godmothers from Friends of the Orphans. They have proven their love, support and commitment for the past 23 years of my life, and we still communicate every two weeks. They still remind me often of my pigtails when we first met, and Naomi still carries a picture of that moment in her wallet.

Throughout my time at NPH, their support brought me joy and hope. Their faith in me made me stronger. Their letters and visits meant the world to me, and taught me that I can have dreams. And dream I did!

My brothers and I took every opportunity NPH gave us. We finished high school, and I’m proud to say that my sister Elena, my brother Alejandro, and I are all college graduates!

Elena graduated with a degree in Accounting, and currently works as the Sales Manager for an international logistics company. My brother Alejandro studied medicine, and graduated as a medical doctor in 2002. In 2004, he was invited to become the Family Doctor for our home at NPH Mexico, a job he had for five years and didn't think twice about accepting. Alejandro is currently in his second year of residency as a Pediatrician, so that he can continue his dream of helping the needy children of the world.

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For me, the youngest of the family, I graduated in Business Administration in 2002. But I was still hungry for more, and had always dreamed of improving my English to speak my Godmother’s language.

My sister Elena took a second job to help, and in 2004, with extra support from my Godmothers and money I had saved, I moved to Toronto for a study abroad English program. I moved back to Mexico in 2005, and have worked as Treasury Manager for a U.S. manufacturing company for the last five years.

Last year, another dream came true when I bought my first home. My Godmothers were so proud. Every accomplishment has been an accomplishment for me, and for them! This year, I fulfilled another dream and went to Europe. Who would have thought that my faith would have brought me all the way to the Vatican.

I also thank NPH supporters, like Susan Campbell and Naomi Hult, my Godmothers, for being there every step of the way. NPH and my Godmothers were my family when I did not have one.

I know that coming to NPH changed my life, my brother’s life, my sister’s life, and the life of thousands of children after us. I hope that you decide to be a part of that change as well.

Thank you!

 To learn more about sponsoring a child or volunteer opportunities through NPH please visit their website www.nph.org  or check out their blog at nphusa.blogspot.com


 Author Bio: Julie Barclay’s life has been dedicated to children. A former public school teacher and summer camp counselor-in-training director from the Pacific Northwest, Julie has worked with varied populations of children, always advocating for those most vulnerable. After having a biological daughter and son, Julie and her husband welcomed home an infant son from Korea in 2002.

Just over a year later, the Barclay’s family grew again. After seeing the photolisting of a 6-year-old boy with a heart condition in China, the family welcomed home their third son. In 2008 the Barclay clan welcomed their 5th child and 4th son, a 6-year-old from Ethiopia.

In 2013 Julie’s life was touched by adoption one more time. Through a genetic testing service, a cousin had found her and reached out with a Facebook message, “I believe we are cousins, would you like to connect via email?” The sender? Martha Osborne, founder of RainbowKids.com

Since that day, Martha (adoptee and mom to 5 through Intercountry adoption) and Julie have created a seamless blend between their families. Together, they have joined their passion to advocate for vulnerable children and have expanded RainbowKids from an adoption advocacy website, to a dedicated child and family welfare website.

 




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