Piggy banks provide change for Honduran orphanage
There are a few people in the world who grab hold of life and truly make a difference. Mother Teresa was one of them, and Susan Bruno might be next in line. Amidst the stormy days of early January, Bruno, a West Shore resident who has been following the work of Mother Teresa for nearly a decade, boarded a twin engine piper airplane set for Santa Rosa de Copan, Honduras. With her were Incline Village pilot Rob Lober and Dr. Ed Weiss and Dr. Judi Foy from the High Sierra Chapter of Flying Doctors, a nonprofit organization that flies more than a dozen missions a year to administer free medical and dental care.In that tattered city, the four visited the Hogar San Jose children’s home, a halfway house for more than two dozen malnourished children whose parents have not necessarily relinquished custody, but cannot afford to support them.”The children are clothed and fed. There is laughter, and they are happy, but there is no enrichment,” Bruno said. “None of these children deserve what life has given to them.”Before the group’s arrival, Hogar San Jose received running water only once or twice a week for a few hours at a time. And it was never hot. The roof was leaking into cribs. There was no schooling or discipline for the children – just four exhausted nuns of Mother Teresa’s Order working tirelessly to feed mouths and wash endless sheets and garments. By the time Bruno and her crew were finished, all that had changed.”These sisters have a presence that is really interesting. They are tiny little women, but boy, they command a presence that I somewhat likened them to parting the Red Sea,” Lober said. “The sacrifice they make is unbelievable; they give up everything, and they are so happy and secure. You can look in their eyes and see the passion.”Help from TruckeeTo gather some of the money needed to fund their extensive project, Bruno asked for help from some of Truckee’s own needy families. Eighty families associated with Club Amiguitos – a multilingual group associated with Truckee State Preschool, Lengua Viva, and the Truckee Donner Recreation & Park District preschool – assisted Bruno in collecting money in handmade piggy banks. More than $2,100 was raised, and to supplement that amount, Bruno’s family contributed an additional sum.”I am going to take this money and change the world with it,” Bruno said she told her family.What happened in Honduras felt nothing short of miraculous, she said. “I went on the assumption that frustration was the only given,” she said. “You can’t go there with the Home Depot mentality.”But in Santa Rosa de Copan, a city that can be likened in size to a Third World Fresno, the team found all they needed. It took days of searching of course, but they found water storage tanks, carpenters, a tankless water heater, and all the knowledge they needed. Weiss and Lober wasted no time transforming the shabby children’s home into a place of clean comfort. “We were able to pretty much get what we needed electrically, but then (Lober and the sisters) had to go to another city, two hours away, and visit several stores before they could find the heaters,” said Weiss. “Most folks had never heard of the items that we needed, and if something doesn’t work, you can’t return it or exchange it.”After just five days and the installation of the new water system, Lober, Weiss, and Foy packed their belongings and headed back to Northern California.”(Leaving) was tough. You could stay for years, there is so much to do. And I really missed the sisters; I became quite attached,” Lober said. “But we went down with a purpose and made an impact.”Bruno, however, had other plans.With three more weeks and all the remaining money, Bruno purchased the supplies and labor needed to establish a Montessori preschool at the children’s home, including uniforms and flushing toilets.”How did the sisters feel about 80 families in Truckee? [They were] pleased that people are opening their hearts and giving to children who have less,” Bruno said. “We really did change the world.”
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