Little did a group of women from Central Michigan University know that when they traveled to Oaxaca, Mexico, their lives would be changed forever.
Over the summer, these women participated in a program called “Los Niños de Oaxaca,” where they worked at two different orphanages over the course of three weeks.
Now back in America, this same group of women has formed a new registered student organization, Para Los Niños, which aims to financially support the children of the orphanages.
“It was evident one of the orphanages, Casa Hogar, was especially struggling,” Troy junior Kathryn Dickerson said. “For example, they only brought in $300 to feed more than 60 children in the whole month of May.”
Dickerson said it wasn’t just financial issues that affected these children.
“The need for love and encouragement was also evident,” she said. “Upon arriving at Casa Hogar each day, the little ones would run toward us immediately waiting to be held and played with.”
The idea to do something more for these children was on each member’s mind, but it was President Renae Sulkowski who took the first step in getting the organization together.
“I became involved after studying abroad there and grew close to the other students I went down there with,” the Saline senior said. “I had the initial idea to start the organization, and from there the others in the group voted me as president.”
Cass City junior Amanda Clifton said the trip was an emotional experience and impacted every single one of them.
“Many, including myself, cried when we had to leave and head back to Michigan,” she said. “Our love for the children started this RSO.”
Para Los Niños is still in contact with Casa Hogar and has received a list of items the orphanage is in need of. Cadillac senior and RSO Vice President Kimberly Alberts said the organization’s goal is to raise enough money to be able to purchase all of the items on the list.
“Right now, we are working to raise enough money to buy new desks for the classrooms there,” she said.
To raise this money, the RSO has been selling spirit beads as well as hosting a fundraiser at La Señorita’s, 1516 S. Mission St. They also hope to host more events in the future, such as a fitness class, to raise money.
“We’re hoping to do a fitness class sometime this semester, although a date and time have not been confirmed yet,” Ortonville junior Stephanie Sullivan said.
Dickerson, like the others in the RSO, hopes students can learn the importance of helping those who are less fortunate and will inspire them to study abroad in Oaxaca.
“The most important thing that one can give to another is simply love and encouragement,” Dickerson said.