Sometimes it’s hard to remember that Rita* is only nine years old. She’s smart, confident, and independent, and often I have to be careful not to give her as much responsibility as she asks for. Other times she is like a little sprite, playful and impish, and then she seems more like her nine-year-old self. Rita is always consistent in her loving and affectionate nature, however; that you can always count on.
Rita is extremely helpful and responsible. Whether she is walking with Gordon* (one of our youngest children) to the comedor or helping to bathe the younger girls, reminding her housemates of the schedule and their chores, or getting herself ready and then doing extra chores, Rita is always on top of things in Hogar One and is a great help to the madrinas (caregivers). Rita has remarkable self-regulation for her age. She recognizes when she is tired and puts herself to bed accordingly. One night we were all watching a movie together in the hogar. One minute she was standing next to me with her head resting on the couch, the next minute she was curled up asleep in her bed.
In addition to self-regulation, Rita has a significant amount of confidence in herself and her abilities. She is not afraid to practice speaking English with anyone. She shows no hesitation or fear when it comes to playing soccer or tag, no matter who is playing—even the older boys. Rita is tough and resilient; she rarely cries when she gets hurt, but rather picks herself up and keeps on playing. She demonstrates a determined concentration while engaged in many activities, from sports to completing puzzles to doing her chores. It’s wonderful to see such confidence and independence in a young girl.
Rita’s youth is evident in the spritely and mischievous way she loves to joke with people. She loves to take my water bottle and hide it when I am not looking. She ends up doubled over in laughter when we play soccer and I stub my toe. One day she and Susana successfully managed to push me off a bench—talk about determination! Even the way she shows affection is playful. Whenever someone comes up behind me and hugs me, or covers my eyes to surprise me, it’s almost always Rita. She is close to one of the university boys, and before he left for school, she snuck up behind him and stole a kiss on the cheek, which he promptly wiped off. He did admit to me later, however, that he would miss her a little bit.
Rita is as feisty as she is loving, as helpful as she is determined, as rascally as she is responsible. I remember the day she arrived at Amigos de Jesus, and it was a blessed day, both for her and for us.
~ Genevieve Volpe, 2015-16 volunteer
*name changed to protect privacy