On January 7th 2017 I became a mother, giving birth to our beautiful baby boy – Damian. While that day made me a mother, I have been “Mami Katy” since August 2010 to my babies at Salomon Klein. Becoming a mother to my own child has brought back memories and sentiments about my days at Salomon with a vengeance.
Memories of the beautiful children I referred to as my babies for 5 years (and still do today):Martin – who I watched grow up from a playful one year old who would mimic ever face I made to a mischievous six year old who knew he was my favorite and would purposely run in the other direction and turn around with a big grin like “come catch me!” every time I came to visit. Edson – whose disability never overshadowed his brilliance; always the oldest and most alert in the Sala, yet forced to crawl everywhere until I brought infant sized walkers back from the US and he took off with a newfound independence that only continued to grow. Gonzalo – who at one year old was the most chivalrous young man I ever met, constantly rescuing the girls in the Sala from the other boys who would bop them on the head with a toy and then proudly look back at me as if to say “see what I did!?” Adriana – whose smile captured my heart from day one, but was so fortunately adopted by a loving couple from Europe who continue to foster her relationship with another girl from Salomon adopted by another couple. How a whole bathroom full of 20 one-year olds sitting on plastic toilets would scream out “Mami Katy!” every time I arrived to help in the mornings….and then how they thought that every light-skinned light-haired foreign girl who came into Salomon Klein was called “Katy” and greatly confused all the other visitors.
Memories of the incredibly strong women who work there day in and day out. Emma – who has given her life to Salomon Klein as a fearless advocate for the children and surviving Salomon Klein’s split with Amanecer only to come out stronger on the other side. Sabina – who I worked alongside of for 14 months (but has worked at Salomon for over 15 years) and became like a Bolivian mother to me: coming in on her day off to wish me happy birthday, constantly telling me stories of things the kids would do when I wasn’t there, and who never complained about the nearly impossible task of trying to meet the developmental, emotional and physical needs of 20+ kids at a time - but instead always greeted them with smiles no matter how tired or overwhelmed she was. Lucha – who has the merciless job of constantly mopping and cleaning and may seem cold, but warms up to you one you show a willingness for hardwork and aren’t afraid to get your hands wet.
These people and my experience at Salomon had a profound impact on shaping who I am today and the type of mother I want to become. I had promised myself when I left in June 2015 that I would stay in touch and active in helping Salomon. Much to my chagrin, I have failed to maintain that promise as “life” got in the way. I hope this short article will be the start to redeeming that promise to myself. That you will read these brief anecdotes and realize the humanity behind the name of Salomon Klein and the lives that you will be impacting with a donation. When I return to Bolivia for a visit this June, I don’t know if Martin or Gonzalo or Edson will still be there, but I know the tireless women who constantly put these children first will be. And any donation you can make will help them in their nearly impossible feat of providing love, education, and stability to the lives of hundreds of children. I hope one day you are as fortunate as I was to get to visit and take part in the amazing work happening at Salomon every day.
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