This past week and a half, we have found ourselves being invited to all sorts of events where we could truly just love and support these boys. A large problem with the volunteers that come down, and its certainly not with all volunteers, is that they come down, love on the boys and develop strong relationships, and when they return home they get caught up in life and forget to send letters and stay in touch. The boys thrive on the relationships they develop with volunteers, and really benefit from being loved. These are kids who in many cases have ended up on the street because their parents didn't have the means or desire to care for them. Nobody should have to grow up without feeling loved on a regular basis, and while its of course a reality in our world, it doesn't have to be for these boys. I know that after three trips down here, each trip extending in length, and one much longer trip planned for later in the year, there is no way I could forget about this place. I have seen some of my favorite boys grow from kids into young men, and I can't imagine not being a part of their lives as they transition into adult life as well.
This week we were invited to go to the boy's school twice. The older boys asked us to come, and spent the day hanging out with us and introducing us to their friends, and they kept saying they weren't going to perform anything they just wanted us to be at their "Student's Day". At the very end of the day, after lying to us for hours, the boys went up on stage and did a break dance performance. They are so multitalented that its impossible to imagine how any of them could have ended up on the streets. Knowing that its because of ProNiño that these kids not only have futures, but also have a chance at childhood gives me that feeling where your heart feels too big for your chest. My eyes water with tears of joy looking at their faces, knowing who they are, and being able to call them my friends, and I know I'm not the only one who feels that way.
Yesterday we went back to school for another student's day celebration, and this time four of our favorite boys weren't there. We ended up spending most of the day with the younger boys, the two older boys that were there, and also with the girlfriend's of most of our boys. At the end of the day after hours of hanging out with these girls, we pulled them aside for a serious talk. Since they are our boy's friends, and since we are leaving on Monday, we asked them to watch out for our boys since they are like brothers to us and not to break their hearts. Both girls started crying, and I think that in that moment we all realized how special they are to each of us. They have such charisma and strength of character that everyone can't help but love them.
Tomorrow is our last day, and our despedida. I luckily know with certainty that I will be back, and for even longer, but the longer I stay the less I want to return to the states. I don't know that another place exists in this world that is so full of love. Where else in the world can a person receive a hundred genuine hugs per day?