My name is Sara Brown. I just got back from volunteering at an orphanage in Costa Rica for 2 weeks and it's safe to say I'm forever changed by the experience. When I originally signed up for the trip I didn't really know what to expect. Little did I know that these children would touch my heart the way they did. La Fortuna Orphanage is a really incredible place. In many cases the children there were taken from their homes because they lived in unstable environments and are brought to the orphanage where they are nurtured and loved. Going in as an American, privileged teenager from a loving family was a culture shock to say the least. What really got to me was that these children never had a choice. It could've been you or me who was born into a family of drug addicts. It could've been you or me whose mother tried to sell her child into prostitution. It could've been you or me who was sexually abused and beaten. They didn't choose the lives of poverty and struggle that they were born into. They were just innocent children with kind hearts and bad luck. The children I got to spend time with were just regular kids whose horrid pasts are hard to fathom behind their heartwarming smiles. They like to play games and watch cartoons just like we did when we were their age. Every child deserves the love and affection of a family and the security of knowing that they have a safe home to return to every day. La Fortuna Orphanage works to provide a loving and caring environment for these children until they can find more permanent homes. I was beyond impressed by the "tÃas" who work as caretakers of the children. These women are devoted to making sure every child at the orphanage feels loved and is well taken care of. The rest of the staff, especially the manager, is absolutely incredible as well and I loved working with them. People continue to tell me what a great thing it is that I volunteered but I consider it a privilege to have been able to experience the love of these kids. Leaving was heart wrenching. I'm not someone who becomes easily attached and I've also never had the soft spot that many of my friends have for young kids. However, when it came time to say goodbye to the children that I had grown to adore I found myself in tears. It felt like saying goodbye to my best friends and the horrible feeling that I would never see them again came over me. I was completely beside myself. That's when I decided that I wouldn't let that become a reality and that I would see these kids again. I'm now working to raise money to buy school supplies, medicine, clothing, toys, and anything that these children need. Once I have raised the money I plan on personally going back to the orphanage to deliver everything. I love photography so while I was there I took tons of pictures of the kids and I now have a blog that I encourage you to visit: http://lafortunaorphans.tumblr.com/.
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