AMIGA OF THE WEEK~ ALEXA D'AMBROSIO

1. How/When did you first become involved with Amigos de Jesus?

I first learned about Amigos de Jesús from my Grandpop, who attended retreat with Father O’Donnell. After my Grandpop passed away, I began to learn more about the Hogar through Father O’Donnell and my dad. After attending an event at the Camden Aquarium during one of the children’s visit to the U.S., I knew I wanted to be part of the Amigos de Jesús family. I was inspired by Amy and Wilson, and over the next few years I was blessed to meet the children in their visits to the United States and go to the beautiful Hogar in Honduras.

2. What are some of the things you do for Amigos de Jesus?

When I first became involved with Amigos de Jesús, I worked to help develop a bilingual library for their school, raising money to purchase books from the amazon wish list and running a book drive. Over the next few years, I helped plan and host the children’s visit to the U.S. (including operating a cotton candy machine!) and the “Broadway Sings for Amigos” event, which will be happening again this year. Most recently, I received a scholarship from school to purchase art supplies for the Hogar and create an art history curriculum, based on their Honduran heritage. The art projects, inspired by ancient Mayan art history, included bracelets made out of jade and other Mayan materials, shirts decorated with initials (since Mayans were advanced with their writing systems of hieroglyphics), and mosaic boxes.

3. Describe your most recent trip to the hogar? What projects are you working on?

In my most recent trip to the Hogar, I got to see all the amazing children again who changed my life during my previous visit at Easter. Being away from children of Amigos for two months was definitely hard, but when I returned I instantly remembered the extraordinary feeling of seeing all their smiling faces. I had the opportunity to spend time with the first grade students developing art history projects, including decorating the shirts and boxes. For National Honduran Identity Day, the following day, the first grade represented the Maya. It was so much fun being there on National Identity Day! Beginning with carefully orchestrated dances, the day continued with each classroom becoming its own museum exhibited. One class could only take “five people at a time,” and once entering, I met the tour guide who led me through the different stations. Everyone was dressed according to the given group being represented.

4. What is one of your favorite Amigos de Jesus memories?

I remember playing checkers with Kalvin* when all of a sudden, I didn’t know what to do for my next move. He said to me in his wonderful English, “so basically you’re stuck.” I also remember one day Juan* pulling me in the direction of the horses saying something I couldn’t quite make out about the “caballos” but feeling just as enthusiastic as he did. Also, I remember how special it was to view Artur's* beautiful art gallery, set up on a folding chair and the bench. Each picture was bursting with vivid colors and gorgeous scenes of the Hogar or anything else he decided to draw!

5. How would you describe the children of Amigos de Jesus to someone?

Whenever someone asks me about Amigos, I always find it hard to do it justice. I can never find the right words to capture the essence of the children and of the hogar, but I will try my best! Generous for sure—everything the children have, they are willing to give away. In the art projects, the children would be the first to give away their own newly created masterpieces. Or on National Identity Day, I was offered tastes of food on numerous occasions. The children are also wise beyond their years. I remember Kalvin telling my mom “the children have magic.” Or I remember playing soccer with Carla* and being absolutely terrible, but her telling me “all that matters is to be happy and to be true to yourself.” Radiating!  The children radiate with their smiles. They give me so much and make me feel so full. I can’t thank them enough for warming my heart with pure kindness. And, love and faith, which embodies every ounce of their being.

6. Anything else you would like to add?

It’s the most amazing place in the world. I had loved Amigos even before I went, but when I went, I simply fell in love.

*Names changed to protect privacy