Take five girls between the ages of 5-9, one 6 year old boy, four 16 year-old girls, a bus driver (oh and his sister), la señora (and her daughter), a nun and me, and put them all in a half renovated house with one working tap inside and what do you get?
My incredible experience at with Malambo Children’s Home.
16 of us visited Agua Dulce on the Coast of Panama, to my great surprise the housing situation worked out! We took the girls to the river everyday to swim. I’ll always remember climbing the Tamarindo tree and throwing down fruit to a bunch of grinning girls with their arms stretched to the sky. We played guitar and danced and tried to learn some english. At times it seems like English is the answer to everything, but what they needed more than that was a little love. And, as Jaz lead me to realise, just as much as they needed some love, it was learning how to love that was missing (and if I’m being honest, a few good manners).
We made it back to Panama City eventually, and our 5 girls became 13. During my time with the kids at Malambo, I met four very incredible teenagers. The four 16 year old girls needed just as much as the little ones did. They are basically all mothers of 13 girls and they are only 16 themselves. They cook for the girls, clean the house, shower them, do their hair and supervised them 24/7.
I came to know Malambo as the place where nothing is yours. The girls would always be part of a mass, but needed individual recognition and love. I learned that your time becomes your time with them, your arms an extension of constant hugs, your seat always made for two, your food, drink, your sunglasses your towel, everything is for sharing. I couldn’t have shared it with a more amazing bunch.
Thank god I met Nina. She was my first ever couch surfing host and I couldn’t have hoped for a better experience, she introduced me to the amazing kiddies of Malambo.
Nina volunteers at Malambo, which is a kids home 40 minutes of out Panama City. So I went along with her and asked the head nun if they needed a hand. It was the 5-9 year old girls who needed help with their English. So two days later I was back at Malambo amongst kids who are tougher that I ever have been. Their circumstances ranged from having a sick parent and a working parent, to having nobody at all.
It is no doubt the people you meet who make your travel. The ones that blow you away, who you may never see again, and the ones that you know you will have to meet again somewhere along the way. Either way, people can change your thinking, open your eyes, hang on to your heart. More often than not on a travellers road, you know these people for such a brief amount of time, but the magic of the road means they can make the difference of a lifetime.
Nina and I with Elizabeth, Anna, Elena, Dariana, Chelsea, Coco, Ashleigh, Nicole and Tatiana.