They come without birth certificates bearing their name, just a brief story of tragedy and neglect. Burned in a crib, left on a doorstep, or nearly drowned by a mentally unstable mother, all of the children at Hogar Belen carry their horrific nightmares as their only credentials.
As Sister Loretta approaches her 80th year, a time that most people hope to be comfortable in their rocking chairs, she is still raising anywhere from 150-300 children on a dilapidated farm that regularly has no running water. Responsible for housing, feeding, clothing and educating each one of them, Sister Loretta relies totally on charitable donations to care for these children. Displaced from their original home in 2001, when a devastating earthquake hit the nearby town of Moquegua, Sister Loretta and the children are still living in temporary accommodations.
As tirelessly as she works, she is hopelessly underfunded, understaffed, and overwhelmed with the volume of work needed to care for so many children. They lack so many basic details we take for granted here in the First World: health care, dental care, transportation to school, books, clothes and toys. Sister Loretta is further burdened by an archaic school system that insists on regulation uniforms, books and equipment that greatly burden her meager resources. Consequently, Hogar Belen often starts the new day without a single penny in the bank. While this situation could be seen as tragic, the greatest tragedy would be our failure to act and extend our support to Sister and the abandoned children of Moquegua.