I stood outside the orphanage for a few moments to take in the crumbling building and see what changes had been made in the three months that I had been gone. Except for the missing huge pile of dirt in the front yard everything looked the same as when I left. I knocked on the front door and a child peeked out the tiny imbedded window. “Es Fortunato!” I heard from inside and the door popped open. A few of the kids came rushing out of the newly created dining room as I entered, Hermana Edith following with a smile, the children asking questions and hugging and asking if I remembered their names. I told the nun that I had encountered Ana, Merlin, and Nicole carrying buckets full of corn kernels out on the street, as I stood amid a pile of shucked corn husks scattered on the floor. Yes, she replied, they were on their way to the miller’s; they would return with flour to make corn tamales, their dinner for the day. Someone had donated a pile of ear corn, she said, inviting me inside. I told Hermana Edith that I had been reassigned to La Paz and would be here for two years and that I intended to resume my volunteer activities at the orphanage. The interior of the orfanato had been made habitable in one corner of the large abandoned building. They had a kitchen, a bathing area and bathroom, two large bedrooms of sorts, and a room where makeshift cubicles had been installed containing clothing for each child. The children led me around, proudly showing off their meager accomodations, the partially painted walls crumbled and flaking from 25 years of neglect. I learned that someone had donated a few baby chickens that were now everywhere underfoot and had promptly eaten the garden the nun had planted from the seeds I had given her when I left for La Masica, including all the seeds. I told her I would return on the weekend to make plans and left, a lump crowding my throat.
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