The orphaned boy read his homework out loud in excited bursts. A nun stood beside him, nodding her approval. I smiled.
Most of Mexico’s orphans live nightmarish lives. The Mexican Commission to Defend and Promote Human Rights has exposed conditions at government institutions for orphans as “extremely inhumane” and the U.S.-based Disability Rights International says many Mexican orphans in the "care" of child-welfare authorities are forced into slavery or prostitution.
In contrast, Villa Infantil Guadalupe y San Jose, a church-run orphanage near Guadalajara, Mexico, buzzed with happy children riding swings, climbing a jungle gym (pictured), kicking a soccer ball, and teasing each other over snacks.
A Google search had turned up this home to 23 abused, abandoned or orphaned children, ages 4 months to 16 years, and its website listed its needs: shampoo, bath soap, toothbrushes, toothpaste and all-purpose cleaning soap.
I arrived by taxi and passed boxes filled with these necessities to staff members. The head nun thanked me graciously and another took me on a tour of the orphanage’s clean, brightly colored rooms. I left Villa Infantil wishing all of Mexico’s orphans were as fortunate as the ones I encountered on a gloriously sunny day “south of the border.”