Meet the Niños

Since 1987, the Hogar del Niño near Los Planes, El Salvador has been dedicated to
serving children and adults with disabilities who have been abandoned by their families.
Father Vito Guarato, a Catholic priest who founded the orphanage, envisioned a refuge of
security, protection, and family for the residents. Through his dedicated efforts and the
support of countless volunteers and donors, the Hogar is now a loving home to about 140
residents with varying mental and physical disabilities.

Our organization sends a pair of volunteers every three months to live and serve at the Hogar.  Volunteers plan activities, teach classes, and give the orphanage residents much needed individualized attention.  

We'd love for you to get to know a few of the niños below:


Aida is a talented singer with an impressive ability to recall and imitate music. If she hears a song on the radio just a couple of times, she can memorize it. Her impromptu musical performances often include loud vocals and wild dance moves. She loves to tease and laugh, and her vibrant personality gives her the reputation of both a “troublemaker” and a “darling” of the Hogar.


When visitors enter the Hogar, they will immediately notice Alonso waving and beckoning to them. Eager to make new friends, Alonso welcomes others through his memorable smile and animated eyes. Although he cannot speak or walk, he participates fully in activities and particularly loves music and dancing in his wheelchair.

 Ana María

Ana María is a “mother figure” in the Hogar: She will comfort children who are lonely, sad, or sick, but she will also scold children (and workers!) who are misbehaving or shirking their responsibilities. In spite of her mothering tendencies, Ana María is young at heart and insists that the Hogar celebrate her “quinceañera” (15th birthday) every year.


Antonia is a spunky preteen with a flair for drama and an infatuation with romance. A true “girly girl,” she enjoys listening to cheesy love songs, painting her nails, and chatting with friends. Impressively, Antonia is also very athletic and keeps up with the orphanage boys in their games of soccer and football. Antonia was abandoned at birth due to her health needs, which include hydrocephalus and dyslexia.


Emilia came to the Hogar in 1997 after she and her siblings were found locked in an abandoned house. In spite of her difficult childhood and resulting disabilities, she is full of laughter and gives tight hugs to everyone she meets. She enjoys art, music, and interacting with friends.


Fátima, a six year old girl with cerebral atrophy, lives in a specialized area of the Hogar for babies and young children with significant health needs. Although she cannot speak, she communicates her emotions and personality through her expressive eyes. She is ticklish and loves to listen to music.


Carlos is an extremely intelligent and motivated young man. He is an honor-roll student at the community school in the town near the Hogar. Carlos does not allow his physical disabilities to inhibit his dreams for the future, and he hopes to study English in America and eventually become a doctor. A typical teenage boy, when asked what makes him happy, Carlos responded, 
“Life, beans, and computer games.”


Jessica is very independent and intelligent. Because of her physical disabilities, it is difficult for her to speak clearly or to move quickly in her wheelchair; however, she persists until she is understood, and she participates in all of the activities at the Hogar including school, physical education, and fun with friends.


Sonia and her twin brother, Daniel, were abandoned in the hospital shortly after their births. They have lived at the orphanage for two years, but they must live in the Hogar’s heath clinic due to their complicated medical needs and disabilities. Sonia loves to interact with others and grins when she is held or cuddled. She has microcephaly and a mental delay.


Steven, a four year old boy with Down Syndrome, has captured the hearts of residents, workers, and visitors to the Hogar due to his precious appearance and personality. He is friendly, smiley, and loves sports and playing outside. After he was born, his mother kept him for several months but eventually abandoned him at the hospital because she could not provide for his mental and physical needs.


Victor is one of very few residents of the Hogar who is legally blind. When he meets new friends, he takes their hands in his and “memorizes” them. He identifies others by the feel of their hands, as well as the sound of their voices. Every day, Victor sits under his favorite tree next to his closest friends, and they chat and laugh together.


Xiomara is a woman of unexpected talents: She is a gifted cross-stitcher, often sitting with the orphanage seamstress throughout the afternoon, creating beautiful and detailed designs. When she is not in the sewing room, she might be found helping out in the Hogar kitchen or participating in a physical education class. She received a medal in the Central American Special Olympics for her 100 meter sprint.
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