Hogar

Located on the outskirts of Guatemala City, Hogar Miguel Magone provides shelter for over 80 children aged between three and sixteen years old. The majority of children sent to the Hogar are victims of abuse or neglect. Other children end up at the Hogar after being kidnapped from their families – a growing trend in Guatemala. Hogar means home in Spanish.

The children are fed, watered and cared for by local teachers, volunteers and service personnel and attend a local school, which they walk to every day. The food is basic, but keeps them healthy and usually comprises of re-fried beans, rice and as many vegetables the cook can fit in without the children noticing. Bread is also handed out, which is cooked daily by the children in the Hogar’s bakery.

I often wanted to know more about how each child ended up at the Hogar, but never asked. As an outsider I was immediately accepted by the children who wanted me to constantly play games with them, help with their homework and at times just wanted a hug. My time at the Hogar taught me how incredible young children are at adapting to their situation, however hard and difficult that may be. If you are interested in volunteering at the Hogar or making a donation, you can contact them through their website www.hogarmiguelmagone.com.

A few weeks before, the twins had their hair cut short due to head-lice, which didn't go down well at all. But today they were happy as their parents were coming to visit and they'd been given the nice dresses to wear. For some reason though their parents didn't show up and the twins were really upset.

Volunteers bought some Piñata's, which the children absolutely loved. It was every child to themselves whenever some sweets spilled out.

These guys were quite content playing with odd pieces of Scalextric track, found in an old LA Gear shoe box. I was quite shocked at the amount of broken or incomplete toys that were donated to the Hogar.

The slides at the Hogar are a big hit.

Apparently the burns on his face had nothing to do with why he was taken into care. I went to the hospital with him one day for a check-up, which he really didn't enjoy. It took quite a bit of encouragement to let me take a photo of him.

One of the children found a stick insect, which provided endless entertainment for the children. In the end I made them put it safely back in the vegetation before something bad happened.

Close friendships are forged at the Hogar between some children.

Eighty plus children equals a lot of washing. An American charity had donated these 100m clothes lines, which were invaluable to the Hogar. Hanging the clothes out also served as punishment to any naughty children - something they all dreaded.

Child standing at the window.

Spot the piñata.

Julio with his lion.

The Hogar encourages good dental hygiene and are in constant need of toothbrushes, which are donated. For some children though the battle has well and truly been lost.

Meal times at the Hogar are hectic. There’s always one or two that aren’t happy with what’s on offer plus the mandatory stray dog that sneaks into the canteen and vies for scraps fed under the table.

A smiling child.

I had heard this child had been abducted from his parents. Such a sad story if it was true.

We made masks with a group of girls, who were more than happy to pose for a photo.