Molly Stark is a volunteer living at the AMAUTA School residence in the city center of Cusco, participating in the Cusco Volunteer Program. Molly spends her mornings with the young girls in the girls’ house “San Judas Chico”. Every day she takes a 70 centimos bus ride through the scenic town of Cusco to this orphanage near Velazco Astete International Airport where she spends the good part of her day just playing and helping the children with their homework.
The orphanage offers safe refuge for girls coming from impoverished families or even worse: violent homes where they were physically or even sexually abused. Some girls were just abandoned while their parents left in search of a better future for themselves, others parents have passed on already.
“San Judas Chico” houses 42 girls, ages ranging between 5-15 years old. The orphanage has been running for 50 years as of October 24, 2013. Visiting with the children the day after this anniversary was a very special opportunity for me.
The front yard of the house has a playground which was rebuilt and funded by AMAUTA volunteers two years ago and could use some repairs now. They also have a greenhouse for their vegetables and a chicken coop as well. They all share one big room and most of the girls have bunk beds and they also share the same bathroom as well. Their only private space is a small locker for each girl situated next to their beds.
As we walked in we were greeted by 6-year-old Yobana who instantly wrapped her arms around Molly. While here at the orphanage Molly has learned a lot – although the language barrier can pose a difficulty at times – it doesn’t ever stop her from helping and connecting with the children. Other than the obvious food, shelter and a chance at education these girls benefit “from each other, like a big family the older children help the younger with many tasks” explains Molly.
As I assisted Nicole (age 13) with her English homework and Molly helped Yobana with the alphabet, I asked Molly to recall the best experience as a volunteer here in Cusco she’s had thus far. She stated that the children love to create;art seems to be their own small escape from a harsh reality. It amazed her that just bringing some colored pencils and paper could bring some much light into the eyes of the girls in this orphanage.