Since 2007, the Melaleuca Foundation’s signature cause has enhanced the lives of so many precious children. It proudly serves as the sole financial sponsor of a remarkable orphanage in Quito, Ecuador named the Santa Lucia Children’s Home.
The many children placed there have received the nourishment they need to thrive in an environment unlike any other. At Santa Lucia, abandoned children find a home. There are no vast dormitories with rows of beds. Instead, the children live in family units with their own space, clothes and toys. For many of these children, it is the first time in their lives that someone has loved them. They experience the structure, support and affection that comes with being part of a family.
The caregivers at Santa Lucia, who watch transformations in children’s guarded personalities, say it’s like seeing the sun come out from behind dark clouds.
Baby Maria de los Angeles: A little angel
On September 2, 2018, a tender two-month-old baby arrived at the orphanage with a heart-wrenching story of physical abuse, illness and abandonment. This baby’s future could have been tragic.
Fortunately, when she arrived at the Santa Lucia Children’s Home, her transformation began when she received a name. The orphanage’s head nun, Sor Inez de Calderon, consulted with the other Dominican Order nuns and professional caregivers before naming her Maria de los Angeles. They saw her as their little angel.
Tending to Maria’s neglected health became their first priority. Suffering from a severe respiratory illness, she needed prompt medical attention.
Because of the financial support from Melaleuca Foundation donors, Maria was fortunate to gain access to several pediatricians and specialists in the area who immediately began to treat her condition.
To put this in perspective, Sor Inez believes that if Maria had been placed at any other Ecuadorian orphanage, she wouldn’t have received the required level of health care, been treated so quickly, been seen by the right physicians, or experienced the recovery that she did. Sor Inez fully credits the Melaleuca Foundation’s donors for this baby’s miraculous improvement and blesses them for providing the resources to handle medical emergencies like these.
During this sensitive time, Maria’s housemother, Ana Calderόn, as well as another nun, Sor Lourdes del Rosio Loor, rallied around her. Unless a doctor was examining her, Maria was constantly cradled in the arms by one of these loving caregivers.
Maria formed a “spiritual bond” with Sor Lourdes when Maria developed chicken pox, according to Sister Inez, who frequently observed them together. She said they even formed a made-up language, with Maria imitating Sor Lourdes’ coos and sounds.
Because Sor Lourdes had lost her voice after a thyroid surgery, the caregivers were astonished when they heard soft singing coming from Sor Lourdes cradling little Maria. Even more beautiful was listening to the baby attempt to repeat the sounds. The nuns said the duet was like two songbirds caring for each other.
A bright future
Throughout Maria’s diagnoses and recovery, the nuns prayed that she would have a healthy and bright future.
Fortunately, they didn’t have to wait long for their prayers to be answered. Within a couple of months, Maria’s health took a turn for the better. Over the following weeks and months, her lungs healed, and her health stabilized. Today, the nuns report that Maria de los Angeles is a healthy, energetic and fun-loving toddler!
Adoption is coming!
Once Maria’s physical health improved, the nuns took their hands-on approach in another direction by investigating Maria’s past. The orphanage’s case worker oversaw Maria’s situation and completed her paperwork in record time. The Santa Lucia team left no stone unturned in their research, clearing the way for Maria to be adopted after legally proving that no family member had claim. The court’s decision came after just six months.
Today, Sor Inez happily reports that Maria is in the process of finding a loving forever home. The adoption team has already had two encouraging interviews with possible families. They believe the right parents will come along soon to carry Maria home to a wonderful new life.
A story of hope
The nuns and caregivers at Santa Lucia readily accept forgotten children like Maria with open hearts and minds. How difficult is it for them to say goodbye, even in the best of circumstances?
“We love them with all our hearts,” Sor Inez said, “yet we must keep our eyes on what will be best for them. In this situation, we trust God that this little girl will be placed in a good family, and that brings us hope!”
After all, Maria’s story is one of hope. It proves the darkest moments can lead to light.
Maria is just one of many little angels that the Melaleuca Foundation has lifted up due to the generosity of Preferred Members and Marketing Executives like you. Thank you to our donors! We invite everybody to join the Melaleuca Foundation. Visit melaleuca.org to make your monthly pledge today!