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Part 5: Hogar Belen

Sister Margaret O’Rourke lived and ministered in Chile for twenty-six years. During that time she lived and witnessed a series of very fortunate events that lead to the birth of Hogar Belen. Located in the Barrio Norte on grounds owned by the Dioceses of Talca, Hogar Belen is home to thirty-eight people with disabilities, ranging from 4 to 48 years of age. Most of them were abandoned as infants and all of them come from low-income families.

The staff is comprised of psychologists, social workers and a nutritionist. There are also special education teachers, cooks and drivers.

Upon arrival, it is apparent that the blue painted structures house happy people. There are people of all ages with silly face paintings eating hot dogs. A few boys ride their bikes in the small patios that connect the three structures. There are toys and music playing everywhere. The kids are generous with the hugs and kisses. They talk freely and show their rooms and toys. They know the Familia de San Jose members. Familia member Jorge Valdez talks about the modified religious education program they offer there and how soon a few participants will participate in a confirmation ceremony. The staff tells stories of how each resident got there. “She was only two months old when they dropped her off,” an aide tells pointing at an 18 year-old young lady with Down syndrome. “The family rejected her. They did not know what to do with her. I think were ashamed and very scared.” The list goes on…abandonment, desperation, shame, guilt….But then, there are those like Miguel, the boy who hugged Sister Margaret. ‘Oh, it is so good to see you!,” she says admiring how tall he is now. “I have a job!” he says proudly. A few wheelchair bound young men wave good-bye. “Go with God!” they shout.