Orphanages Explained

They take a lot of explaining because their name is misleading
BY: DANIELLE WILLIAMS

First, the term “orphanage” needs to be cleared up.  Rarely will you see a sign for “orfanatorio” these days for the simple reason that there are very few orphaned children.  These establishments are properly called “casa hogar”, meaning home, generally followed by some religious phrase.  The question remains: why so many casas hogares? It’s because many children are neglected, abused, or abandoned.  In our area there is also the curious phenomenon of American children of deportees being dumped, the latter not the case in my story.

For some time I had been hearing a remarkable story of a children’s home in a trailer without electricity or water. It was a horror story.  It was headed by a couple who, having lost their daughter to kidney failure, decided to start a home in her memory and named it after her, Casa Hogar Jazmin Elizabeth.

In May of this year, I asked to visit.  The situation was no longer dramatic. That summer, a group from Oregon had built a rudimentary two story dwelling for Jose Navarro, his wife, Irma, and the seven children in their care.  Situated in the upper reaches of Plan Libertador in North Rosarito, the place is not easy to find. I found Jose Navarro, the director, at the foot at a block wall which looked like the cornerstones for a second building.   Jose explained that in order to be recognized by DIF he needed to have the required living space and amenities. DIF is the charity that is in every town in Mexico, and always headed by the mayor’s wife. It is also always dedicated to the family, and pitches in to help many family oriented charities

I made the commitment to help finance this construction. A first fund raiser supplied resources to advance the structure to the point where, with four exterior walls erected, a concrete floor could be poured. The labor had been provided by Jose himself. As of this writing, all is almost ready – minus the funding - for pouring the ceiling.

  Jose’s drive and courage have attracted the attention of many people of good will. For example, one generous person who wishes to remain anonymous has taken on the payment of Hogar’s electric bill. Most of the food is donated.  A couple of organizations do help:  Unity 4 Orphans is in the forefront of providing emergency items, school uniforms, and other necessities; Hearts of Baja provide chicken and other foodstuff from time to time.

At times, there is a surplus of donations. Once a month, Jose will share what he cannot use.  He has made trips to the people living at the Tijuana dumps as part of his outreach effort.

The next fund raising event is a 1950’s party entitled One o’clock, two o’clock, 3’o’clock Rock on October 30 at 3PM at BOTTEGA SANTINI, km 40.  It will be MC’d  by Christopher Spanos as DJ. Besides dancing, a number of activities are planned: Name that tune, a raffle, Pennies from Heaven or Change for change where people are asked to bring their bags of pennies, with a prize for the heaviest bag.  The big money maker will be the auction of a week-long safari in a reserve in South Africa. Tickets for the event are $10. 619-955-7192 or dew112@hotmail.com

The proceeds will be used to purchase windows and doors, the stairs, and to finish the electricity and plumbing.  We are hoping that within a year, Casa Jazmin Elizabeth will be a full-fledged home receiving up to 25 children.  Several more fund raising events will need to take place.  These promise to be fun.  The year will close with a posada, the politically correct term for bar crawl, to benefit them.

Without a doubt, Casa Hogar Jazmin Elizabeth attests to the fact that nothing is impossible where dedicated, creative, and generous individuals forge ahead with a common goal. Jose and Irma Navarro welcome visitors.  Jose speaks English. Drop in or call 661 116 5899.