Megan left her heart in Ecuador when she was 18, and returned two more times to the country and children who captured her heart. Read on for more about her life-changing experiences.
“On a whim, as an 18-year-old, I went down to Cuenca to volunteer. I could never have guessed how much that decision would change my life. While there I became the Cunas’ leader (when you volunteer you are generally assigned to oversee one of the orphanage sites). Spending everyday in the cunas, surrounded by innocent, beautiful infants taught me so many valuable lessons. After coming home from Cuenca I thought about “my babies” every day and talked about them to anyone with ears.
Two years later I found myself going back to Cuenca. This time around I was the Casas’ leader–this meant I was with the same children as before, just they were now toddlers instead of infants. Being with those same children and seeing the incredible progress they had made helped me to appreciate the volunteers and orphanage workers SO much. I mean, how could the kids have learned what they had without the makeshift family that surrounded them everyday? Because they showed me love, I knew they had known love. Because they laughed, I knew they had felt happiness. Because they helped one another, I knew they had seen kindness.
I left Cuenca thinking I would never go back. I remember looking out the window of the airplane at the streets below, following the highway with my eyes to where the orphanages stand. My heart wanted to burst with the true sorrow I felt for leaving that beautiful city and all that it meant to me. I hoped and prayed that others would find their way to OSSO so that my kids would continue to be watched over.
Luckily for me my OSSO story didn’t end there. Five years later I happened to be walking through a career fair during my last semester of college while an OSSO presentation was going on. I stopped to chat with the representative and found out that OSSO was looking for an Assistant to the Project Directors in Cuenca. (!!!) I immediately interviewed for the position and six months later landed back in my beloved Cuenca.
Going back to OSSO, in this position, gave me a different perspective of the program and its magnitude for good. I was able to see first-hand what was donated to the children in need. I was able to meet and greet every volunteer that came through the program and see how the volunteers’ lives were changed through service. I was also able to see the impact each volunteer had on the children’s lives. I was able to see the hours and hours of hard work put in by the OSSO staff. I was able to see sacrifices and miracles.
Most of my days, as an Assistant, involved working with kids, helping the volunteers, running errands, and interacting with the staff of the orphanages. Basically, I ran around a lot. But in retrospect I realized that even though I was constantly busy, even though I was tired, I was never unhappy with where I was. Never. That’s because going back to Ecuador was going back to where my heart was.“