I loved him like he was my own child, which is ironic; since I am only 17. I loved him, and still do love him more than I have ever loved anything in my life. This love is what changed everything.
I spent five weeks in Honduras; the last week being a week filled of children’s home visits. I met Victor at a government-run home called Nueva Esperanza. Think of a poorly run orphanage in a third world country; that is Nueva Esperanza. Now, think of the most mature, patient, and loving 12 year old; that is Victor. We connected immediately because he had patience to sit through a conversation of my broken but developing Spanish, and he would do anything he could to help me understand. Victor and I spent that whole week side by side; whether it was talking about his past, or his future, teaching him English, or simply just playing.
I thought that I would go into that orphanage and show the children hope. I do not doubt that I did that, but in return, Victor gave me hope. He gave me hope for his life and for other children in his horrible situation. I thought that going into that orphanage, I would show kids the love that they deserve and have missed out on in their life. But in return, Victor showed me love. Victor showed me how much I could truly love someone. I started that week in the orphanage thinking, “What can I change here?” and my heart ended up getting changed instead.
The bond between Victor and I is inseparable; even from different parts of the world. His birthday is at the end of October, and towards the end of my trip, I promised him that I would be back around then. That is a promise that I cannot break. The children in those homes deserve a familiar face; a face that returns with open arms when they said they would. Tearful promises were made between Victor and me the day that I left. I promised him that I would come back and look for him, keeping in mind that he could be in another children’s home by then, or possibly on the streets. Through his tears, he promised me that he would wear my bracelet forever.
Within this past week, I have received news that Victor ran away from Nueva Esperanza. As much as this breaks my heart, it also gives me hope that he will be found and taken to another children’s home, one that is safer and healthier, and a better environment. If you are interested in reading more stories similar to mine, full of brokenness and hope, or if you would like to donate to the nonprofit organization I worked with, The Children’s Home Project, visit tchp.wordpress.com.
• Colleen Henderson, 17, is a senior at Desert Vista High School in Ahwatukee. She spent five weeks in Honduras this summer. This is the first of two stories about her trip.